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Duluth conference to teach social media marketing

So, you're starting a business. Everything is falling into place, you're about to open and now it's time to hire a whiz to design a website. Wrong, said David Scott, the vice president of business development at Duluth-based Pure Driven, a busine...

David Scott
David Scott, vice president of business development at Duluth-based Pure Driven

So, you're starting a business. Everything is falling into place, you're about to open and now it's time to hire a whiz to design a website.

Wrong, said David Scott, the vice president of business development at Duluth-based Pure Driven, a business that teaches people how to use free social media tools like Twitter and Facebook to connect with customers. Prioritizing the website is the No. 1 mistake business-owners make. Yes, you need a website. But you also need a content creation plan, search engine optimization and a way to engage with an audience.

"You do not just work with a Web designer," he said.

Scott is one of the panelists who will be speaking Wednesday at the Zenith Social Media Marketing Conference at the Holiday Inn, a day-long event billed as a way to teach business owners how to turn social media marketing into moneymaking.

The conference includes three tracks -- Boot Camp, Channels and Advanced -- and has sessions like "Social Media & PR! It's LIKE Peanut Butter & Chocolate!" and "Facebook Marketing! What is Facebook Good for Anyway?" There are internationally recognized experts scheduled to speak, including Rand Fishkin, who was named on the Puget Sound Business Journal's 40 Under 40 list and 30 Best Young Tech Entrepreneurs Under 30 list by BusinessWeek; Greg Jarboe, one of 25 profiled in Michael Miller's "Online Marketing Heroes: Interviews with 25 Successful Online Marketing Gurus;" and others representing big-name firms such as Mall of America and 3M.

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The conference was organized by aimClear and the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with Charter Business and SwimCreative.

The News Tribune talked to Scott, a self-described LinkedIn expert, about social media marketing.

What are you speaking about during the conference?

DS: (We'll be speaking about) the power of social media and LinkedIn for professionals. LinkedIn is like Facebook, but for professionals. For our LinkedIn presentation, we'll assume the audience isn't a religious user. We'll cover three different aspects of LinkedIn: What it is, we'll talk about advanced aspects and pay-per-click advertising and the four different account types.

What is social media marketing and how does it differ from spamming?

DS: Social media is, by nature, just like the words indicate. If I went to a networking event, I'd shake your hand and exchange pleasantries. I'd ask "What do you do," "I do XYZ or 123 or I do this online." Once we build that, we have a dialogue. It's about engaging people. If any organization is online, the ultimate goal is to engage them. It's about being social. It's about someone looking at someone else's link on Twitter.

It's about targeting a group of individuals you want to engage with.

You go to Culver's Facebook page. There is nothing about food. It's about "what's your favorite burger." It's about engaging people.

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(Spamming) is not a form of communication.

So how do you measure success in working with a business that is trying to increase its Web presence?

DS: One way to measure is to do analytics. Most e-commerce companies -- Best Buy, GM, Mitsubishi -- they'll use analytics tools. Analytics is a tool that manages data. It tells you what people are doing on your site, what things they clicked on, how long they stay.

What are some must-know tips for businesses regarding the Internet?

DS: The consumer determines value. As a business owner, understand what the consumer wants. To be frank, a lot of small- to medium-sized businesses think they're delivering a message through marketing effectively. I think most small- to mid-sized businesses don't understand what drives them. Look in the mirror and do some introspection.

Marketing is not an expense; it's an investment. Take a look at investing in a good Web marketing company. Not a firm, not advertising. Someone who understands how to market on the Web.

If you go
What: Zenith Social Media Marketing Conference
When: Registration begins at 7:45 a.m. Wednesday
Where: Holiday Inn
Cost: $299; $249 for Chamber members. Special rate available for college students. Go to zenithconference.com. Registration closes today.

Related Topics: EDUCATIONTECHNOLOGY
Christa Lawler is a former reporter for the Duluth News Tribune.
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