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Local First tackles social media

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As anyone who uses them regularly knows, social media sites are tricky places: Addictive, risky due to security concerns, the various platforms provided an avenue for entertainment but also an opportunity to waste time and money.

But as Ruth Ellen Elinski, Northern Arizona Director for Local First AZ, pointed out to participants of a social media workshop March 1 at the Cottonwood Recreation Center, marketing on social media can pay off for Verde Valley businesses.


Elinski provided a variety of tools for participants, including representatives from the city of Cottonwood, to use to drive interest their way.

According to Elinski, paying for marketing on social media sites such as Facebook is not absolutely necessary. If used properly, however, paying for an ad can increase the reach of a business or municipal entity’s message.

“Hopefully, some of the strategies we give you today can help you avoid paying [too much],” Elinski said, showing the relative values of Local First AZ’s own paid advertisements on Facebook. “But I do think there are ways to enhance your outcomes without paying.”

Analyzing the need for organic reach versus paid reach, Elinski said, deserves consideration. Any business that does not make an effort to plan out its marketing schedule on social media sites is likely not getting all it can out of its platforms.

“Really dedicating a chunk of time pays off,” Elinski said, adding that scheduling posts for key times of the day — early morning, lunchtime or early evening — as well as limiting advertising posts to three times a week is advisable.

Nonetheless, Elinski admitted that attracting people to a business via social media is trial and error. Paying attention to what triggers Facebook’s algorithms is important to understanding one’s reach. Each “Like” a post gets is a step in the right direction, increasing the odds it will be seen again on another person’s page. Comments are even better, according to Elinski. The real prize, however, is when someone shares a post. This increases a post’s reach by an entire friendship network.

Posting upcoming events, too, presents social media users with numerous options for success and failure. Beyond providing a picture that catches the eye, all details need to be exact and to the point. What, when and where are important, but so is a poppy description.

The major key to attracting people’s notice, Elinski said, is to make sure the event is posted and advertised to followers well before the event date.

“The more time you give it, the more it’s seen,” Elinski said.

According to Elinski, making and creating networks between local businesses on social media, especially among rural municipalities in the Verde Valley, is important.

“Part of our role [at Local First AZ] is to drive tourism into our communities,” Elinski said, adding that she would like to see dollars that are currently funneled into California turned back to Arizona.

“If we have a stronger network, we are all going to be doing a lot better .... and when one of us does well, we all do better.”

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