Facebook — it’s where businesses should be advertising, at least according to Jim Barr, president of Seekers Media, an online tourism site.
“Why should you care about a business owner?” he asked a collection of business people at a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce last Wednesday at the Village Idiot. “Because there’s so many things you can do with it and it’s free. All it requires is your time.”
Barr founded Seekers Media after 15 years working in the tourism industry and writing travel articles for the Sun newspapers in Edmonton and Calgary.
He said he initially proposed writing a travel book to the B.C. mountains but after receiving a poor offer on a book deal, he went and started SnowSeekers.ca, a website that provides information about resorts across western Canada.
He said SnowSeekers was present on various social media, including Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn but the focus of his talk was on the benefits of Facebook.
The SnowSeekers page currently has more than 1,800 fans and he estimated their value at about $20 each. The social media marketing company Virtue has pegged the value of a Facebook fan to a business at $3.60 annually.
“In our space, within the tourism world, it allows our audience to share,” said Barr. “The biggest thing as a business owner thing is it allows the advertisers a direct connection. As a Facebook fan, I have chosen to hear from you. Having a fan page, you have opened this one-on-one chain of conversation.”
About half of all Canadians are on Facebook. While there are no statistics for Revelstoke, anecdotal evidence suggests more and more people are making use of the site every day.
Revelstoke businesses use Facebook for promotion to a varying degree. Most bars in town have a Facebook page set up, with the River City Pub and the Last Drop making the most use of their pages.
Angela Waterson, the owner of Second Chance/Escape Within has both a group set up for her store and uses her personal page to promote the store. She said she aims to keep her posts fun and intimdate.
“It reaches more my client base and my friends,” she said after the presentation. “I’m not trying to reach huge media with Facebook. “I’m trying to keep it small town, small people that are connected to me.”
The most successful Facebook page of any business in town is Revelstoke Mountain Resort, with more than 6,000 fans, who regularly engage the page by commenting on posts and posting photos.
Other businesses are just getting on board. Areaworx recently started their own page and currently have eight fans.
“I feel its really important and we need to be doing it,” said owner Gennifer Ryan, who added she was new to Facebook.
Cindy Pearce, who works as a consultant doing public outreach said she was learning how to use Facebook for her work.
“I’m being pulled along by the young people in my life,” she said. “I see this is as a great adventure for working with the younger generation and its something we all have to learn to do.”
Building a fan base is a challenge. Barr said one way SnowSeekers was able to expand its audience on Facebook was by offering contests. They also focus on the look of the page and providing engaging content, he said.
“By presenting really engaging content youíre engaging the audience and youíre going to keep them working for you by generating more interest in your page and generating more fans,” he said.
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