Editor’s note: Jayson Humphrey | Founder & CEO, LiPi Promotions, LLC

RALEIGH, N.C. – Monday delivered dreary skies, but the inside of Brier Creek Clubhouse beamed with expectancy. The local entrepreneurial community gathered in a packed house to hear pitches from four of the region’s hottest social media startups, and to glean fresh industry knowledge from a panel of social media experts.

The Entrepreneur’s Series, hosted by Southern Capitol Ventures, addressed a timely topic that undoubtedly resonates with every business leader today: The Impact of Social Media in 2012.

As an entrepreneur that leads a startup in the social media management space, it was a breath of fresh air to see local investors, seasoned business owners, and other decision makers scheduling time to learn how to make social media work better for their companies. It was a worthy investment of time as the discussion answered several pressing questions.

• What strategies are most successful?
• What software products are available?
• What metrics are most important to measure?
• What is the ROI on social media?
• Should my company use Facebook or Google+?

Early in the event, when asked what social media mistakes businesses make, Christien Louviere, Vitrue’s Director of Business Development, promptly answered, “The number one mistake is not taking action.” A recent Nielsen study showed that people are spending an average of nearly eight hours on Facebook every month — almost 4 times the amount spent on Google.  

A close second regarding social media mistakes, is not establishing a plan. Too many statistics are proving the value and impact of social media on businesses. Decision makers have valid concerns holding them back from moving forward, but choose to make a plan and take action before your competitors are too far ahead of you.

Biggest Mistakes

Biggest mistakes mentioned included:

1) Not taking action.
2) Not establishing a workable plan.
3) Not providing sufficient resources to accomplish social media goals.
4) Not knowing your company’s identity within the social media community.
5) Assuming, “If you build it, they will come”.

If you have concerns about social media for your business, search for the entrepreneurs creating products and services to solve your problems.

Local Provider Pitches

Here’s the list of startups who pitched their solutions:

1. Identifying rich business intelligence through social analytics.
• Greg Artzt, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, General Sentiment
• http://www.generalsentiment.com/
2. Ensuring companies stay in compliance by storing their social media records.
• Anil Chawta, Founder and CEO, ArchiveSocial
• https://archivesocial.com/
3. Assisting small business owners with posting social media content through email
• Brett Apter, Get On Social
• http://www.getonsocial.com
4. Helping companies analyze big data and identifying patterns in the conversation that impact your business.
• Joe Davy, Founder and Chief Product Officer, EvoApp
• http://www.evoapp.com/

How To Proceed

When you decide to create a social media plan to execute for your company, be sure to allocate the proper resources to be successful. If a person’s goal was to drive to Charlotte and it takes one full tank of fuel to get there, if a full tank cost $75, it wouldn’t be a good idea to only put in $25, would it? It’s a similar concept when planning a social media strategy. Determine your goals, identify the best route, provide the necessary resources to accomplish the goals, draw up a plan, then execute it. Throughout the entire process, if you don’t consider yourself an expert, consult one. It’s a worthy investment to have a skilled guide along your journey through the world of social media!

We had the privilege of learning best practices from a panel of four local social media experts. Here are several takeaways from the conversation:

Emma Battle, Director of Online Marketing, Red Hat

• Key takeaways:
• Measurement tools: Bitly Enterprise & Argyle Social
• Five years ago, Red Hat generated 90% of leads offline, today 90% of it’s leads are generated online.

Kirsten Hamstra, Social Media Manager, SAS

• Key takeaways:
• Content strategy for starters: stick with 80% engagement & 20% sales.
• Trust your employees when creating a company social media plan.

Melissa Sowry, Content & Social Media Manager, Burt’s Bees

• Key takeaways:
• Ensure that you invest the resources to accomplish your goals.
• Only choose the platforms you can manage and resource, don’t give in to the temptation to use every platform.

Christien Louviere, Vitrue’s Director of Business Develop

• Key takeaways:
• Take action.
• Ultimate question: Who can create the most creative and engaging content? The one’s who can and drive profiles to the top of search algorithms, wins.

In the conversation, the panelists weaved several software tools into their feedback. Here is a list of five that were emphasized:

Tools Mentioned

1) Shoutlet.com
• Harness all the power of social media, all in your hands.

2) dlvr.it
• Distribute your blog to Twitter, Facebook and more.

3) BitlyEnterprise.com
• The largest link-sharing platform on the web.

4) ArgyleSocial.com
• Data-driven social media marketing platform.

5) Vitrue.com
• Helping brands cultivate their online communities.

Business Is Now Social Business

Business is now social business, and it is encouraging to see more leaders in the Triangle exploring how to effectively put these social media practices to work. If your company has had success after implementing social media strategy, tell us about it. If you are pivoting your current strategy to participate in social media, what are your most pressing questions?

About LiPi: The company is a catalyst for hyper local, social media driven, word of mouth promotions. Our team consults small businesses in social media strategy and we deliver results through comprehensive inbound marketing services, including: email marketing, blog writing, social media content management and mobile website design solutions. (“LiPi” is an acronym for Love it? Promote it!)

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