As part of their week long events focusing on the black community, small business and economics, Black Expo 2012, along with their partner, AETNA, presented their Business Opportunity Summit: How To Make Social Media Work For Your Business. The Black Expo has become known for providing opportunities for minority-owned businesses to increase exposure, therefore hosting an event on how to use social media for business, was a natural extension.
The event was appropriately held at the IT-ology center in downtown Columbia, SC. IT-ology is a non profit organization dedicated to growing and advancing the IT profession in Columbia. The IT-ology center is perfectly equipped to handle workshops where professionals have steady access to WiFi for workshops on social media. Therefore guests were encouraged to bring their laptops or iPads. I saw quite a few iPads in the audience. However, one guest mentioned that there wasn’t a valid wi-fi code provided to to use. So much for bringing your computer…
Although, most of the event was a sales pitch for Bizwire.net, I enjoyed the practical tips by guest speaker, Greg Roberts. He demonstrated how businesses can take control of their digital image by optimizing their website’s keyword search and claiming the company’s Google page. The tips provided could be used by businesses with small or large marketing budgets.
Although the event was marketed to mainly talk about social media, I was surprised that there was little to no attention given on how to follow, tweet or ‘like’ the Black Expo or BizWire on Twitter or Facebook. There was a QR code linking to the Black Expo website on the invitation, but QR codes alone does not social media make. I was surprised at this, since that concept of Social Media For Business 101 is #hashtags should be everywhere at a social media workshop. There was none. #fail.
Attendance at the event appeared to be about 30 people in a room that could probably hold 200. I wonder if this was because the event attendance was by invitation only. Seemed like more local businesses could have benefited from this type of event. Did they consider other bloggers and local media would want to attend so that they could fill their Twitter or Facebook timelines with details on this much-needed event for minority business owners? I did ask what the response was from other bloggers on covering the Black Expo, and was told usually only ThatTeowonna covered the event. I wonder why this is the case? Perhaps Black Expo can reach out to more local bloggers to cover their event. The more exposure the better.
In its 15th year, it seems that the Black Expo is expanding their reach and are endeavoring to keep up with trends that can help minority-owned businesses grow. The timing of the event seemed very accommodating to small business owners because it was free, a light lunch (provided by sponsor Honey Baked Ham) was included as complimentary, and they provided free parking vouchers. What business owner wouldn’t enjoy that? I just wish there had been more there to take advantage of it.
I commend #TeamThomas for adding the social media platform to the #ColumbiaBlackExpo mix, but I encourage them to fill it out just a little more next year… that is if they want it to truly be beneficial to small businesses.
Ebony Looney is a social media standout and small business owner. Her 10-plus years of experience includes working as a public relations coordinator; web developer; marketing consultant; image consultant; and freelance writer. Visit her website, IdeaBalloons.com for more information.
I’m That Teowonna… and I approve this message.