Welcome to ChamberMaster

If you have recently visited the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce website, www.blackstonevalley.org, you may have noticed some changes as we’ve been rolling out our new ChamberMaster features, including enhanced Events listings, a completely new and interactive Members Directory, and other features.

If you are a Chamber member, you should have received an email with your new log in info to access your member profile in our Members Directory.

We are really excited about the great new features ChamberMaster brings to our website and the wider Valley community. In the coming days you’ll see a lot more detail here in the BVCC Blog to help you to make the most of your profile and the enhanced website features.

In this post, I’m just going to give you a very brief intro to ChamberMaster.

Your Own Dashboard

When you log into your profile, you will see a dashboard with many opportunities to promote your business.

dashboard

 

You can now add a photo, a logo, a photo gallery, and your social media connections (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn). If you don’t know your login or have any trouble connecting, please just drop us a line and we will assist you.

For now, just take a minute to preview the new Members Directory. You’ll see that you can search by keyword (such as part of your company name), which will generate a dropdown list of options; or alphabetically; or by category.

Also at the top are links for Hot Deals and Member to Member Deals. You may want to check from time to time to see what special deals our members are offering either to the public (Hot Deals) or to other members (Member to Member). If a member is running a Hot Deal, you’ll see it listed in their description upon a search.

If you click on Manage Your Membership (left column under Membership), you will access your member profile, where you can enter or edit a wide range of choices, create a Hot Deal (subject to Chamber approval), add photos, and much, much more.

Add Your Events

Last but certainly not least today: Events.

eventsChamberMaster provides us with a number of options to make event listing and registration much simpler, including a calendar and the opportunity to set a reminder for an event you don’t want to miss. We are just beginning to add events now, so watch this section grow!

There’s much more to come, so check back often to get the scoop! And have a “Valley” great day!

Jeannie Hebert

So You Have Facebook, Do You Still Need a Website?

Ernie Black, WebmasterNo doubt Facebook is powerful, and your company, however large or small, should be on Facebook. And you should have a Twitter feed. And don’t forget Pinterest, Tumblr, and all the other great social media out there today. So with all this, do you still need your own destination website?

In a word, yes. Or rather, in a word, Branding. Image. Your website is your online presence, your best opportunity to develop your Brand online, with the look and feel and features that reflect what you do. On Facebook, every page pretty much looks the same: different photos and text, sure, and you can build specific tabs for your Twitter profile, YouTube channel, and even open an F-Commerce store to sell your products, but all with the same generic Facebook look and feel. But on your own website, you control the layout, the choice and positioning of graphics, the features you want to display, and more. Compare any company’s Facebook page to their unique website, and the difference is immediate and striking. Yes, you need a Facebook presence, but to build your brand, you also need your own website.

The second big reason for your own website: it’s yours. You own the content and the data. If–or rather, when–Facebook decides to make a major change in how things are done on Facebook (like they’ve never done this before), you have no recourse but to go along with the changes. And if they decide for whatever reason to close your page, you’re lost. Most important, if you’re gathering data and building a database of your users, customers, products, events, etc., on your site that database is yours, not Facebook’s. (Yes, you should backup your data on a regular basis and keep it safely in a separate location, but it’s yours.)

You want another reason? SEO: Search Engine Optimization. If your website is built with SEO in mind, then you have a better chance to be found in the top search engine results on Google, Bing, or Yahoo. This is a big topic, deserving separate discussion, but just Google SEO to learn more.

There’s lots more you can do with your own database: create forms for user input and interactivity; promote your products; promote other websites; connect to your YouTube channel, Twitter, Tumblr, and, yes, Facebook; blog to build more interest and traffic; create a forum for discussion groups; and so much more.

So the short answer is, yes, you still need your own website. And yes, you still need to take advantage of Facebook and other Social Media. It’s not either/or, it’s both.

Why Should You Care about Social Media

Many businesses in the Blackstone Valley have common challenges. Certainly one of them is getting exposure for our businesses which is why we joined the Chamber of Commerce. One of the great benefits to joining is the networking component.

Social media is also networking. Virtual networking, with measurable results.

Let’s start by looking at the numbers of Facebook users in the Blackstone Valley of Massachusetts.

  • Northbridge – 3520
  • Whitinsville – 3000
  • Uxbridge – 6260
  • Grafton – 5200
  • Bellingham – 6840
  • Millville – 1040
  • Millbury – 5540
  • Upton – 2640
  • Mendon – 2320
  • Blackstone – 3500
  • Douglas – 3400
  • Sutton – 3020
  • Hopedale – 2400

That is a total of 48,720 people who are on Facebook in our collection of towns! Half of them are active more than 55 minutes a day on Facebook and many view Facebook updates on their mobile devices! Never, ever, have we been able to understand our target audience as easily as we can now and be so connected. Here’s a collection of FBSmarty blogs on targeting. This changes marketing forever.

Our challenges include not having enough time or resources to get it all done. Trying to figure out how to get customers into our stores or clients into our businesses. What makes the most sense? What will get us the best return on our investments of time and resources? Time management can be tricky.

Social Media can seem like a time-sucker with no real end in sight. Where is the concrete return on investment? How much time should we spend on a Facebook Page? What about the other Social Networks? How do we engage? How do we entice people into the sales funnel?

We understand the value of networking. We may belong to the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, BNI and other organizations where we get to know and develop relationships with people on a business level. Once people come to know us and our area expertise, and we get to trust each other, referrals should come naturally, right?  Social Media is no different. We need to build trust with our target audience, develop good relationships with our followers and follow the right people.

Stay tuned for more! These posts will be promoted on the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce Facebook Page so be sure to head over there and LIKE it so you are notified.

Michelle Fontaine

FBSmarty, Guest Author for Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce