AWFS: How woodworkers profit with social mediaLAS VEGAS

- The Internet and online media are rapidly morphing into social media, and woodworkers can use them as tools to channel attention to their businesses, and grow sales.

The Internet - e-mail, web search, and online news - are now mature media, with more than 94 percent of Americans e-mailing, 75 percent reading news, and 66 percent shopping online, according to Steve Reiss, VP of Vance Publishing, in a noon presentation at the AWFS Fair woodworking show at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Reiss, whose company publishes Woodworking Network, Custom Woodworking Business and Wood & Wood Products and CLOSETS magazines, said social media - the younger form of online communications that includs Facebook, YouTube and Twitter - will follow a similar adoption curve as other Internet media.

"It's no longer a question of 'Should I care about social media?'" said Reiss. "It's now about how can I take advantage."

About half of Americans are now engaged with social media in one form or another, according to Reiss.Woodworkers can leverage social media to build their woodshop's business, connecting with prospects in more frequent and continuous online relationships, Reiss said.

Even so, woodworkers must establish a well-designed website to receive the attention they generate through social media marketing steps. In citing key elements for a good website, Reiss offered this advice:

  • Optimize your site so customers can locate you through Google or other search tools. "If you can't be found, you don't exist," Reiss said.
  • Determine what purpose the site will serve. Is it about building branding for your company?  "Too many people get hung up on the bells and whistles," Reiss advised, "and more about functions that will benefit your business."
  • Determine what action you want users to take when they reach your sight. Are you after e-commerce?
  • Build in engaging and interactive content at your site: offer coupons, or show new pictures of your latest project. "Give people a reason to go to your website."
  • Finally, integrate the site with your current business activi"It should be an integral part of your business process."

Reiss invited his audience, including those reading this article online

, to request a copy of his presentation by sending him a note - real or virtual.

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