Lakeshore News Tonight

Businesses Learn Social Media Levels Playing Field

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October 8, 2013 — A walk through of Windows 8 by Best Buy of Highland employees was just the tip of the iceberg for businesses navigating the latest gadgets on the market and how they can improve consumer relations.

South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority and hosted the annual Tech Summit, which is in its third year, at the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond.

Chief Technology Officer Luke Weinman is the brainchild of the event, and he believes any business trying to operate in this century should adhere to the myriad of technological advances.

“Whether it’s social media or technology, digital marketing, whatever it is.  If you want to stay ahead of the times and be with what’s happening for all generations, technology is where it’s at,” said Weinman, who planned the event collectively with his team.

The summit featured short sessions on a variety of tech topics, including a presentation from Family Express CEO Gus Olympidis about how to recreate your physical brand in electronic form, a move he said can only be done by using social media.

“In order for us to stay relevant, we need to communicate in a way that our customers care to connect with us,” said Olympidis, who has gas stations throughout Northwest and North Central Indiana.

“We encourage all of our partners to be in social media, be on Google.  Do the things that are free,” Weinman exclaimed.

The information was crucial for Paco Fernandez, CEO of Paco’s Custom Clothiers in Highland.  While he has seen an increase in his business, since 1999, from one customer to 3400 customers worldwide, he insists he’s better with fashion, not with marketing.

“Being a man that is almost 60 years old, I’ll be 60 in a couple of weeks, you have to change with technology.  To the new kids, even email is past tense,” said Fernandez.

However, Olympidis explained that increasing business is not the goal.  He said businesses need to be more tech savvy because customers expect their products to be communicated with them online.  Another advantage he has discovered is social media can give the best real advice about a product, not paper based surveys.

“If our coffee brand, which is Java Wave, is contemplating a new flavor, social media is where we would go to ask the consumer’s input as to their liking or not.  So, social media essentially becomes this giant, almost like this nuclear focus group that gives you earnest, fundamental and correct advice,” Olympidis said.

“Technology is a great leveler.  Technology allows businesses of all sizes to compete.  That’s really where we see the game changing.  For organizations like ours, we’re the second largest CVB in Indiana, but with the technology we have it allows us to compete with Indianapolis, Chicago and other bigger organizations.  The same way the technology that we are bringing to businesses here today it allows them to compete better and seriously make more money.  It’s about making money and putting people back to work,” said Speros Batistatos, SSCVA President and CEO.

There can be a downside to technological advances.  Olypidis said as more companies hire social media directors, attrition of traditional methods of communication will happen.

By: Renetta DuBose

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