By Darren Lum
An upcoming workshop is looking to help businesses stand out in the 21st century with a series of “how to” digital marketing workshops.
Organized by the County of Haliburton Economic Development and Tourism department, this free offering for Haliburton County business owners and entrepreneurs goes beyond most general social media workshops and offers targeted, applicable coaching on very specific social media skills said the tourism department’s content creator Thom Lambert.
He said digital marketing is an affordable and effective way for businesses and organizations to communicate with their customers and stakeholders.
“Because of the ease with which content can be shared, it is also one of the most effective ways for businesses within an area like the Haliburton Highlands to collaborate with one another. Social media platforms continue to be one of the most important tools by which potential visitors to the Haliburton Highlands discover new experiences and make travel decisions,” he wrote in a prepared statement.
There are four workshops, offered bi-weekly starting on Feb. 3. Interested business owners, entrepreneurs, and digital marketing workers can register by contacting Lambert at email@example.com, or by registering directly through links posted on social media.
The first workshop is focusing on creating and posting Instagram reels, one of the fastest growing segments of social media. Workshops will be up to 60 minutes long and will include time for participants to ask questions at the end. Each workshop is focused on one topic. The free series is made possible with funding from the Ontario Highlands Tourism Organization through their Tourism Recovery and Innovation Program.
The workshops will be offered via Zoom and are being facilitated by local marketing expert Autumn Wilson, who is the owner of AJW services.
Lambert wrote Wilson “provides social media marketing, training and consulting. She is the past program and operations co-ordinator for Haliburton County Development Corporation, and past business manager for the Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce.”
Wilson said the best attribute of digital marketing for rural businesses is authenticity.
“In order to see success on social media, brands (businesses) need to show the people behind the business. Consumers are demanding connection. This is something that has become more prevalent since the pandemic with an increase in people turning to social media to find a sense of connection and community,” she wrote in an email message. “Consumers are looking to build meaningful relationships with the brands they follow. They want to know who they are, what they like, what their vision is, what their goals are, etc. The best thing a brand can do is to be true and authentic to who they are as a person so they build relationships with their audience. “
Wilson has been assisting area businesses for the past six years with their social media strategies, teaching people “the ins and outs” of how social media can lead to business growth and sales.
“There has been growing support from the county tourism department to help businesses improve their digital marketing so we’ve seen a lot of improvements over the years. The ongoing work to expand broadband connection in the county over the last 10 years has also made it easier for rural businesses to have a presence online,” she wrote.
The ever-changing characteristic trait of social media adds to the challenge.
“Consumers are using it in different ways and new platforms emerge all the time. Keeping up with those trends and figuring out which ones to implement for your business can be really challenging. The way to improve is to be dialed in to your target audience – knowing what they like, where they are, what they’re doing, and what they are engaging with online. You don’t want to jump on a new platform or a new trend just because it’s there. You want to make sure that’s where your target audience is before determining how you can use it for your business,” she wrote.