Social Media Webinar for Evanston Businesses: A Recap

On Thursday, May 1st, The City of Evanston’s Economic Development Division hosted a free social media webinar for the Evanston business community. For local business owners in Evanston looking to enhance their social media presence, this webinar was a must-watch.

After detailing how the City of Evanston and the Economic Development Division utilize social media, the webinar showed how the City promotes local business and provided tips on social media. If you couldn’t watch the 75-minute webinar don’t fret! We watched it for you. Below are seven key tips from the presentation.

1) Utilize The City of Evanston’s Social Media – the main Economic Development Division website hosts a blog covering local businesses and events
• Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram are all used by the City to promote local businesses. Let them know what you’re up to. Posts can highlight local sales, part-time hiring, events, and articles.
Connect with Evanston on Instagram – Use #CityofEvanston or @CityofEvanston

2) Business Promotion Program

Want a free custom website? – Small business owners can create a custom website for 1 year free, powered through Google
Celebrate Business Anniversaries with style! – Join Evanston’s “Celebrate Your Business Birthday” program for free business promotion. The City will recognize business anniversaries at City Council meetings, the Evanston Edge website and newsletters, as well as social media. Sign up here.

3) Blogging & Blasting – Helpful Services

• Tumblr is a visually interesting platform. Check out how the Evanston Police Department uses Tumblr to generate community awareness:
WordPress – an easy to use, free blogging tool and content management system
• Email marketing services – GetResponse, Constant Contact, MailChimp, AWeber
• SMS/Texting – Tatango, ZipWhip

4) Website

• WordPress is most commonly used (1/6th of websites in the world use WP). Squarespace is another popular site.
Make your site mobile friendly – 60-70% of small websites are not yet mobile optimized
• Some sites that will help you go mobile: Dudamobile, mobify, goMobi
Tint – More than 40,000 brands use Tint to aggregate their social media feeds. Curate and display social media on your website. Useful for automatically populating site pages and keeping them updated.
Storify – Helps you live-tweet an event and track the tag to follow your social media “story”

5) Facebook

Create a page for your business – Don’t create a user profile for a business, create a page. You can also create a public Facebook group for a more communal discussion board experience.
Increase your reach! Be selective about what you post. You should ideally post twice a day. Think about content that makes people want to share. High quality images often generate greater responses.
Organic Reach – This term refers to how many people see or interact with your post naturally. Organic reach has been dwindling over time so reliance on boosting posts have increased.
Boost Posts – Facebook has an algorithm to decide what content shows up on an individual’s newsfeed. Even if you make a post, not everyone will see it. However, boosting makes your post appear on more newsfeeds.
o Facebook charges fees ($5-$10) to boost your post. Don’t bother boosting already viral content.
o You can selectively target audiences and increase the number of people who see your post.

6) LinkedIn & Twitter

LinkedIn – Create a personal and a company page. If hiring, spend some money and create a listing on LinkedIn. 3/4ths of all jobs are listed on LinkedIn.
Twitter – Most people don’t realize analytics are available. To access, click your settings wheel, click “Twitter Ads”, go to you Analytics tab and take a look at recent tweet activity. Compare and contrast to find out what best appeals to people.

7) Best Posting Practices

Time it – For Facebook it’s best to post 1-4pm. In Evanston, activity is pretty high until 9pm. For Twitter, best times are 1-3pm and for LinkedIn 7am-9am and 5pm-6pm.
Schedule it – On Hootsuite you can schedule posts to be posted automatically to all of your social media outlets. This way, you don’t need to spend nights and weekends posting material. For posting to Facebook, utilize Facebook’s scheduled post feature instead.
• Hootsuite lets you post from different platforms all on one convenient dashboard. You can manage multiple social media outlets, shorten links, get analytics, schedule posts, and save templates.

Hopefully, these seven tips can help you improve your social media. Look out for a more advanced version of this webinar offered later this month and check out other Evanston business news here!

Paige Pak, Creative Coworking Intern

Three Years!

I opened Creative Coworking three years ago. There were a few times in the first month when it was really quiet here, and I wondered if I’d done the right thing. This is an awfully large office to work in all by myself! But, members started trickling in—and, over time, that trickle turned into a steady stream. The gamble paid off. I was right in thinking that if I created a beautiful office environment in the heart of Downtown Evanston, people would join me here. But it was a gamble. A lot of people in town hadn’t even heard the word coworking when we first opened!

I’m what you might call an accidental entrepreneur. I didn’t set out, determined to change my career. Life gave me lemons, and I chose to make lemonade, as they say. With the downturn in the economy in 2009, the company I was working for closed its doors. I started freelancing from home, which seemed great for a while. Then it started to become harder and harder for me to concentrate. The kids came through and interrupted me on a regular basis. I interrupted myself on a regular basis, too. I got up to do the dishes or laundry or brush the cat or organize my closet—anything but face the looming editorial deadline of the moment. I also missed having coworkers. I’m too social to work alone for long.

So, I started looking for a better place to work. I am too easily distracted to be productive working in a coffee shop, and the library is too quiet for me. Plus, I wouldn’t want to have to pick up my things every time I needed to go to the bathroom or take a quick phone call. In 2009, there weren’t any coworking options in Evanston; the closest office was in Edgewater. Writer’s Workspace, owned by the delightful Amy Davis, is a great space, but it is just far enough away from my house that I knew I wouldn’t want to add the daily commute. I wanted to stay close to home, particularly since I have two young children.

So, my husband and I took the plunge. He is a techie by trade, so he set up everything that beeps or blinks around here: WiFi, printers, projector, phones, electronic door entry system, etc. I focused on creating the look and feel of my dream office. And, three years later, the office space we call Creative Coworking is still here, ready to become Your Office Home. (And, yes, it took me three years to get around to starting a blog.)