This episode is a little different than most others because I have four guests who are joining me in a conversation, newsroom style. These four business professionals are responsible for running small businesses and we discuss how they’re using social media to market and grow their businesses. My guests include Nicole Colella, Jim Catalano, Alex Gonzalez, and Alan Belniak. Read on or listen to find out how they each apply social media in their varied markets.

Alan Belniak

A repeat guest here on Social Business Engine, Alan is the Head of Content and Community at Alignable, a social media platform geared towards establishing local business connections. As an online business, Alignable is focused on informing other local businesses how to network with each other to grow their business.

Their audience spends most of their time on Facebook and Twitter, so Alan concentrates his efforts there. He searches for local hashtags to share content in the awareness-generation phase. They’re also testing Facebook Live and Snapchat. Alan is particularly interested in exploring Snapchat’s geo-filters.

Nicole Colella

Nicole is the photographer and owner of Nicolella Photography LLC. She says old-school marketing (print) doesn’t work for her, and she relies mainly on referrals. She sees results from using Alignable and by attending networking events, like the Chamber, to help her to meet new people and find new clients.

Nicole shares her blog posts to both Facebook and Twitter to reach her audience. She also gets a response from other entrepreneurs on Twitter whom she otherwise wouldn’t have access to. Instagram allows Nicole to make a personal connection with people – here she shares personal and business shots. Snapchat helps her to amplify what happens behind the scenes and again, allows her to connect with people on a different level.

Jim Catalano

As Marketing Director at Catalano, Caboor & Co., Jim relies on both social networking and in-person networking events. He reaches the under 40 crowd online, and the over 40 crowd face to face. Jim shares informative articles on their Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ accounts. He also uses Alignable and LinkedIn to connect with people, reaching new prospects with monthly deals and creating synergies among customers and partners. He has a strong blend of online and offline marketing activities to find new clients and network with existing clients.

Alex Gonzalez

Alex is Director of Sales/Marketing at Best Western PLUS Rockville Hotel & Suites. Alex relies on the conversion of their digital visitors with a need to keep them focused on the deal – booking a stay or event. He uses Alignable to meet new prospects and promote their breakfast events bringing awareness to the local market. Alex is working to include more video in their online strategy, both produced and live video.

Experimentation is Key

Some of the common threads across these diverse business owners/managers include networking at Chamber events and other meetups to aid in relationship building with prospective clients, as well as the use of social media including Alignable. Experimentation is key for local businesses. Snapchat’s Geofilters may work great for one industry, but may not be relevant to an online based company. Video, as we’ve seen before, is rising in popularity and a quick way to reach and engage users. A combination of online and offline marketing contributes to the success of each of these small business panelists.

“Experimentation is key for local businesses.” @bernieborges #sbeshow
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