Dave and Ilana Bittner, co-owners of Columbia, Maryland-based Pixel Workshop, shoot, edit and develop independent multi-media projects for television, DVD, CD-ROM and the web. In this “Social Gets Local” post, they tell us how they apply social business as part of their own company’s marketing strategy and how they’re also using social tools to connect and inform their Howard County community through HoCoMoJo.com. (Dave is on Twitter @bittner, Ilana is @ilanabit and, if you’re local, check out their @hocomojo.)
Q: How has social media impacted the way you market your business?
A: It works toward awareness and as a reminder. It’s a vehicle in which we can share project info without hard selling and it reminds people that we’re here, busy and it tells them what we’re doing, but not in an interruptive or “sales-ey” way.
Q: What social media tool(s) do you use the most?
A: Twitter and Facebook.
Q: How much time each day do you spend using social media?
A: About 2 hours per day.
Q: Do you consider your time on social sites “time well spent”?
A: Yes, absolutely. Our business has been built by WOM (15 years). Social media is an extension of our existing WOM efforts and has expanded our web of influence and contacts. Social media makes it easier to find local resources and it puts us in touch with so many more people every day. Our reach is based on people who choose to hear what we have to say. They have opted in. When we go to social events offline people come up and say, “I love reading your twitter posts or Facebook posts.” We’re on their radar.
Q: What percentage of your new clients comes from social media?
A: Because of our engagement, we’re getting business that might otherwise go to an ad agency. They’re shopping and come to us because they see what we’re doing. Many times, we’re providing traditional media services and then integrating Social Media into the project/campaign where it makes sense.
Q: How are you gauging “ROI”?
A: We know when we’re getting business and buzz because people tell us. We have also positioned ourselves locally as leaders in this media and the reputation we are building makes the time-cost worth it.
Q: Can you describe your “social media successes” at the local, regional and national levels?
Local: We’ve started HoCoMoJo, a hyperlocal news and community resource for Howard County, Maryland. (It’s MObile JOurnalism showcasing the “mojo” of HOward COunty.) Print media is in serious trouble and HoCoMoJo is our attempt to fill the local gap for news, information and community engagement. We seem to have struck a chord and the response has been encouraging. Since we’re already set up with production and editing equipment, HoCoMoJo didn’t require any additional investment. We’re still in public beta, working out some kinks, but new users are signing on every day, posting new content and becoming part of the conversation.
National: Our national connections have become part of our supplemental network. We get tapped when people come to town because we’ve connected on twitter. Our engagement increases the likelihood of our being tapped as a resource for out-of-towners.
Q: What would you say to other local business owners about social media?
A: Get past your natural fears and get in on the conversations. It’s happening – and it’s up to you to be part of it. It’s like attending a giant virtual cocktail party. It can be very interesting and you can do it without leaving the house/office.
Q: What question do you have about social media that you’d like to ask your local business community?
A: The ones who are successful at social media are fearless. The minute a large company tries to do “social business” without authenticity, they’re dead. A lot of companies are adopting a “wait & see” approach. But we look at social media more like it’s the “wild west.” People are experts in social media in the same way that Louis and Clarke were experts on the western frontier. They were only experts because they explored – that’s where we are. We’re exploring. So our question is, “If you can’t quite make sense of the ROI, do you see any value in exploring the potential of this new frontier?”
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