When John Miele, co-owner of the Golden Carp, left a social media class recently taught by Western Carolina University students, his Dillsboro business had a new home in the online social networking Facebook community. Now, visitors can find on Facebook information such as the store’s hours, location and official Web site, as well as subscribe to the Golden Carp’s news and updates by becoming a “fan.”
“I wanted to know what Facebook was all about and how to properly use the media of the moment,” said Miele.
The social media class at WCU was held as part of the Dillsboro/Western Carolina University partnership effort to support community revitalization. At the class, WCU public relations students Lauren Gray, Garrett Richardson and Ashley Funderburk led business owners step-by-step in how to use Facebook pages. Participants learned to upload photos and business information, create events, set privacy controls and post status updates. In addition, they discussed tools such as e-mail and Twitter, and the effectiveness of using social media tools for marketing.
“We had participants who were totally new to Facebook, people who had a Facebook page but did not use it, and people who already had fan pages,” said Gray. “I think everyone really came to understand the power, effectiveness and timeliness of Facebook through this class.”
Miele said it is important for the Golden Carp to have an online presence. He noted that about 75 percent of customers of the 20-year-old business, which specializes in accessories for the home, fine art and unique gifts, are tourists, and many conduct online research when they plan their trips.
“The Web is one of the most effective ways to advertise yourself,” said Miele. “You have to go where people are paying attention, and our Facebook page is now another way to help advertise our business.”
Travis Berning of Berning Pottery and co-owner of Treehouse Pottery, both in Dillsboro, said he had used social media tools for personal use and registered for the class to learn more about how they could help promote business.
“The class was a very good experience, and the students leading it did a great job,” said Berning. “I’ve already added more content to our fan page.”
Shane Williams of Dillsboro Rafting Company said his experience in the class confirmed that what they are doing with social media is on the right track and inspired him to begin new projects, such as developing a Google map that would help guests find other points of interest around the business.
In the week after the class, the town of Dillsboro’s fan page on Facebook increased by 63 fans and experienced nearly triple the activity and visits to the page.
As part of the Dillsboro-WCU partnership initiative, WCU will host Dillsboro on Display on the lawn of A.K. Hinds University Center on Monday, April 12, to showcase the food, art, merchandise, music and culture the historic town of Dillsboro has to offer.
Students, faculty and staff are invited to visit between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to learn more about Dillsboro businesses, including Dillsboro Chocolate Factory, the Dillsboro Smokehouse, the Jarrett House, Smoky Mountain Dog Bakery, Country Traditions, The Queens Junque, Claymates Pottery, the Riverwood Shops and the Golden Carp.