The medium keeps changing but the message stays the same – people want to keep in touch, get information and do business.
“I was fascinated with social media before it was called social media,” said Teresa Deak, social media maven and owner of Social Butterfly Solutions.
“I remember the bulletin board services in the early ‘90s where you would dial in on a modem and leave a message which would be posted. I loved the idea that you could talk to someone on the other side of the world by computer.”
She was working as an administrative assistant at the time and got more into computers for personal use, sharing photos and starting a blog. She started helping her husband, John Deak, to promote his real estate business and when other people asked for her advice and assistance, she started her business to help clients use social media to meet business and personal goals. She has clients across Canada and internationally.
She loves the creativity of her new business and promotes her own business image with her colourful clothes and purple-streaked hair with a butterfly clipped into the hair on the back of her head.
“I couldn’t dress this way before. I find it easy to connect with people electronically. I would say a lot of people feel that way,” she said.
She said businesses in Vernon use Twitter more than in other places in Canada, thanks to promotion by former Vernon Chamber of Commerce manager Val Trevis, while social users tend to do more on Facebook. Deak noted that more than half of Facebook users log in at least once a day and if all the more than 700 million Facebook users lived in one country, it would be the third largest country in the world. Most countries in the world use Facebook, but China and Russia use other social networks.
“You have to think about how you want to use social media. First, follow the rules or you could be shut down. For example, Facebook is for personal use, not business, although users can add a page for their business. The Facebook business pages can be found by a search engine on the Internet while personal pages cannot be found,” she said.
She said that users often do not make the best use of Twitter by not using it consistently and not getting well known.
“I advise people to use business sites to share their expertise in their field and the things that interest them personally. If all you do is offer your opinion and your services all you are doing is broadcasting. People want to interact with you and hear back from you and develop a relationship,” she said.
“There is a shift in the way consumers choose who they will do business with and location is not as important as it used to be. Use common sense with what you post. Know the etiquette for the network you are on. Don’t put out secure information or very personal information. Remember that prospective employers now check social sites.”
With most people 20 to 45 now getting the majority of their information online, it is important for businesses and individuals to learn how to use media effectively with personalized links, lists, tags and searches.
She said the fastest growing demographic of social media users is women over 55, who may have started to keep in touch with grandchildren but now find they enjoy meeting other people and shopping online.
“The true power in all these mediums is that each person has a different network which increases the capacity to reach more people,” said Deak. “I like the personal contacts I’ve made. I contacted a girl in England and then met her when she came to Kelowna for a wedding and she is now a client.
“I can find the expertise I need when I need it. People are people wherever they are, behind the computer or face to face. It allows you to meet people you would never meet otherwise based solely on interests and their words and thoughts, not on impressions about appearances, which might not be accurate. The medium is just a tool and people are now using it comfortably to do what they want to do. It’s just part of life.”
Deak’s new project is a site where she shares her photos and thoughts about gratitude and invites others to share photos, art, writing, videos and other creative projects about gratitude.
Everything will be put into an e-book which can be viewed at www.giventogratitude.com.