(Lakeland, Fla., April 27, 2009) â€“ â€œThey wanted a sequel, so weâ€™re giving it to them,â€ says Tamara Sakagawa. â€œWe plan to provide some free, valuable information so people can use social media to grow, sustain or manage their businesses.â€
Sakagawa and Chuck Welch will present a social media seminar April 29, 11:00 a.m. â€“ noon and 6:00 â€“ 7:00 p.m. at the University of South Florida Polytechnic. Sakagawa is the City of Lakelandâ€™s community redevelopment agency manager, and Welch publishes two popular news sites, Lakeland Local and Metro I-4.
The workshop is part two of Welchâ€™s social media presentation that the Lakeland Community Redevelopment Agency hosted in March.
â€œLast month was why.â€™ This month is â€˜how,â€™â€ says Welch. â€œIt’s a quick, hands-on class for those committed to social media.â€
According to Sakagawa, USF Polyâ€™s Open Use Computer Lab provides an ideal location for the workshop.
â€œThis event is really more useful to people if they can work along with the instructor.Â Â I had originally thought of making this a bring-your-own-laptop event, but that just seemed cumbersome.Â â€œ
In addition to making its computer lab available for the workshop, USFP has plunged into the world of social media. The school has a presence on Facebook and recently launched a successful marketing campaign to increase its followers on Twitter.
Sakagawa first experimented with social media last year when she opened a Facebook account. She started to wonder how it and other forms of social media could help small businesses with limited marketing budgets.Â She originally planned the first workshop for Dixieland Community Redevelopment Area businesses.Â Because the topics are so universal, she says, she opened the event to anyone in the community, with a specific focus on small business owners.
Sakagawa uses each event as an opportunity to share some information about the city, the Dixieland CRA and the Redevelopment Agency.Â She also sees it as a networking opportunity for businesses and citizens, who, she hopes, will decide to locate or shop in, or learn more about, Dixieland.
â€œI see these seminars as civic engagement and customer service,â€ she says.â€ â€œWe need to communicate with our citizens about what we do, how we do it, and why things happen.Â These events give us a chance to not only share some insight into whatâ€™s going on but also get feedback from the public. We want to know what people and businesses need, how we can help, what services have value.Â Each event gives us an opportunity to learn more about what we can do, or do differently, to stimulate investment and keep the local economy churning.â€
According to Sakagawa, the Dixieland CRAâ€™s Facebook page and a new downtown website — plandowntownlakeland.com — have helped to engage a different segment of the public. Previous forms of outreach included direct mail, addressed primarily to property owners, news releases and legal ads.
â€œWe would always see the same people at public meetings, and we would wonder how to connect with younger people or people who could not, or would not, take time out of their days to come to a meeting or workshop. The website and blog let us share concepts with an online audience and get additional and frank feedback as we update the plan for downtown Lakeland.Â Facebook has allowed us to share information with a different audience, one we hope will stop and think about the businesses in this area.â€
For more information on the workshop contact Tamara Sakagawa at 863-834-6011 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or if you would like to host a social media workshop for your organization contact Chuck Welch at (863) 614-0434 or Welch@lakelandlocal.com