Many from area businesses and organizations gathered to learn the importance of social media at the Paramount Arts Center Thursday.
The second annual BAM! Social Media Conference featured social media experts from across the country, with talks ranging from Facebook for beginners and cyber safety to social media strategies and action plans.
“Social media is for everyone,” said Jenny Holmes, director of marketing and social media at the PAC. “People are here today learning to engage with the community. Whether it's centered around a product, brand or business, it's about social awareness. If you have something to say sell or share to make a difference in the world, you need to learn how to do that.”
She said the conference was a success in Huntington last year and decided she wanted to bring it to Ashland.
“I go to a lot of social media conferences, and last year I set up a Twitter account for BAM. I felt like our area could benefit from this kind of thing. I followed social media speakers and they followed me back, and I invited them to the conference and got awesome speakers from all over the nation,” Holmes said.
Many at the conference, speakers and attendees alike, stressed how important it is for businesses and organizations to learn how to use social media to their advantage.
Alicia Dennison, director of Golden Kidz, a nonprofit that serves families confronted with childhood cancer, said she came to the conference to learn more about cyber safety and how to get word out about the organization.
“For nonprofits, this is really good. If you don’t have a big name, people won’t give you money because people don’t know who you are. … People don’t go door-to-door anymore, they go from computer-to-computer, and social media helps me reach my audience,” Dennison said.
“I think businesses need educating in online advertising. People just don’t understand the advantages,” said Christian Fannin, who was at the conference to promote his local web design business.
David Horne, co-founder of the marketing firm Magnetic Ideas in High Point, N.C., who spoke at the conference, said it’s unusual to see an event like this in a city the size of Ashland.
“Normally folks in this area would have to go to a bigger city to learn some of this stuff. These markets just don’t get the draw a place like Atlanta or Columbus would get,” Horne said. “I hope more and more people will take advantage of this.”
Kimanzi T. Constable, an author, speaker and public relations consultant in Milwaukee, said learning how to use social media changed his life as well as his career.
“For 12 years I delivered bread, and I was miserable. I started journaling about my job and saw what was going on with social media. … I started becoming a student of social media and learned how to connect with people online,” Constable said, explaining that he went on to have two books published. His first speaking gig was at the BAM! conference in Huntington last year, and he has since spoken across the United States and across the globe, in countries including Australia and Japan.
He said even though he is considered an expert, he learned more about social media from the sessions he sat in on.
“Even if you think you know a lot, there’s someone who knows how to do it better. You always have to be learning,” he said.
Ric Dragon, a digital marketer from New York City, focused on an approach to social media during his session.
“It (social media) turns the world upside down. It changes how businesses communicate. I think people are confused by how to use it,” he said. “If you missed the conference this year, you should be here next year.”
For more information about the BAM! Social Media Conference, visit the-bam.com.
SHANNON MILLER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2642.