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The private dining room at Barb’s Restaurant in Belington was filled to capacity recently by members of the Barbour County Chamber of Commerce and employees of local businesses to hear Jessica Shaffer, above, present an introduction to the use of social media in marketing.

Shaffer is the Digital Marketing Officer for Citizens Bank of West Virginia. Behind the camera is Leah Knicely, a reporter for WBOY TV-12 in Clarksburg, who recorded the event.

Shaffer discussed the importance of using social media to increase sales, to interact with customers, to monitor what is perceived about the business, and to create positive experiences for customers.  “Social media creates brand recognition, brand loyalty, and an opportunity to convert customers,” she said.

Shaffer recommended that businesses understand their target market, their own products and services, and things like the age, gender, and hobbies of their intended customers.  She suggested that the choice of a social media channel - such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Instagram - will be determined by the characteristics of their intended audience.

Shaffer said that 79% of American Internet users are on Facebook, watching 100 million hours of video content daily.  “If your brand was a person, what kind of personality would it have?  How old is your person, and what are their interests?  What relationship would your brand have to potential customers – as a teacher, coach, friend?  And, how do you want your customers to think about your business?,” she asked.

Shaffer said there are built-in analytics to measure how your social presence is performing.  Facebook, she noted, breaks down the gender and age of the people who like your page, but it is more common to have more women fans than men who prefer to use on-line forums.  Facebook analytics also provide a summary of the last seven days including a comparison of photos, videos, links, and status updates.  “Always respond when you receive a question,” she advised.