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Businesses are tapping into social media – and finding success, new customers

By: Brad Smith -- The Press Tribune
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If you have a business and want to learn how to get more customers – you might want to check out the next Placer Business Tweetup Night. During the most recent Tweetup Night, held at Tres Agaves, people were in the restaurant’s patio area and wore tags with their Twitter names on them. @DelightCleaning – also known as Ray Lapoint – was one of them and has been to last the few Tweetups. “It’s all about networking,” he said. “My business Delight Cleaning is in Folsom but I work all over – including Roseville to Elk Grove. Networking via Twitter and Facebook helps me a lot and coming to a Tweetup is another plus.” During a Tweetup, Lapoint and other business owners mix and mingle and exchange business cards. They also refer one another to their respective clients. “For example I meet a guy who is a great caterer,” Lapoint said. “I have him cater a party and people love what he does. I log onto my Twitter account and tell everyone who follows me how great this guy is.” And then the caterer uses his Twitter account to tell his followers about Lapoint’s business. Lapoint said that he uses Twitter to keep in touch with his clients. If he has a cancellation and has an opening, Lapoint will let his clients know via Twitter. “I’ve gotten a number of new customers because of my clients tweeting to their friends about my work,” he said. “Using social media like Twitter is very good word of mouth,” said Josh Unfried. Unfried has been putting together the Placer Business Tweetups for the past few months. “The first thing we do is find a high-profile restaurant like Tres Agaves and approach them with the idea,” he said. “If they like the idea, then we start promoting the Tweetup on our Facebook page and, of course, our Twitter account.” Unfried looks at Twitter, Facebook and other social media differently than other people. “Like many people, I see it as a means for social networking but on a different level,” he said. “Social media has the potential to help businesses expand their customer base – and even help other businesses to grow as well.” Unfried wants to educate area businesses about the “untapped potential” of social networking. In January of this year, Unfried founded TweetFlow – a company focused on helping businesses understand social media and how they can use it. “When people hear ‘Facebook’ or ‘MySpace,’ it conjures up images of people using them as dating sites or connecting with old high school buddies,” Unfried said. “It’s much more than that and people need to know that.” Unfried said he usually needs to explain the concept of Twitter and micro-blogging to some folks. “Hey, people are smart and it doesn’t take them long to become tech-savvy,” he said. “Once they understand Twitter they’ll be ‘tweeting’ in no time flat.” Unfried said he’s relied upon the Roseville Chamber of Commerce to spread the word about social media networking benefits to those who lack Twitter, Facebook and other social media accounts. “The Roseville Chamber has been very supportive of what we’re doing and they’re referring a lot of people to us,” he said. “The Rocklin Chamber is doing the same thing too.” Unfried said that with the groups like the Chamber of Commerce and even word of mouth from people he’s helped out previously, he is helping people to realize social media networking’s potential. One person that Unfried helped is Roseville chiropractor Dr. Jared Thomas. “A year or so ago, I got a Facebook account at my wife’s urging,” he said. “I found it very challenging and one day I posted, ‘I really don’t understand Facebook.’” Thomas said a friend instantly responded with, “‘if you can’t understand Facebook then how will you ever understand Twitter?’” Thomas did not even know what Twitter was. As Thomas sought out advice on social media, he crossed paths with Unfried. “Josh really helped to get in touch with my inner Twitter self,” he said. “He showed me the possibilities of using Twitter, Facebook and other social media to find new clients.” One of those new clients is Tyreke Evans of the Sacramento Kings. “Tyreke sent out a tweet and asked if anyone knew of a good chiropractor,” Thomas said. “One of his personal trainers knows me and that’s how I got the referral.” In the last year, after using Twitter and Facebook, Thomas’ workload has increased. “I used to see 100 to 125 patients a week,” he said. “I now see 150 to 180 patients a week.” Unfried, Thomas and a few others are now working on fast track group coaching for those interested in learning how to use social media for business networking. “It’s a really good thing,” Unfried said. “It’s all about local businesses helping one another to succeed. I hope people check us out.” ---------- For more information on Roseville Tweetups or to learn more about social media fast track group coaching, contact Josh Unfried at (916) 749-2664 or josh@tweetflow.com. To learn more about Twitter: http://www.understandingtwitter.com/ To understand how social media networking might help your business: http://www.socialmediatoday.com/ http://mediasosial.com/understanding-social-media-tools/ To learn more about future Tweetups in Roseville or Placer County: http://www.facebook.com/placerbiztweetup The next Tweetup will be held 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, July 13, at La Province in Roseville. ---------- Brad Smith can be reached at brads@goldcountrymedia.com.