News From Terre Haute, Indiana

September 22, 2012

Tech Haute promotes using social media as tool

Group helps businesses, organizations become more aware of opportunities

Brian Boyce
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Marketing services via social media is a growing trend upon which local businesses hope to capitalize.

A grassroots coalition of business organizers meeting under the name Tech Haute has begun hosting workshops to educate others about using social media. Launched in June, the group has hosted three seminars on how to use sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and a fourth is scheduled for Wednesday.

Bryan Jackson, human resources manager at Applied Extrusion Technologies, helped found the group along with Shelley Klingerman and David Hunt, and he said the group will grow according to participation and interest.

“There are a lot of communities that are doing this,” he said, explaining that the effort is being coordinated in conjunction with the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce, which has hosted some of the workshops.

Information is available at the group’s website, www.techhaute.com, which uses social networking technology via the site Meetup.com. On a recent evening, 72 members had profiles listed on the site.

Jackson said anyone can participate, even if they simply join in the online discussions. The goal is to help businesses and organizations become more aware of the opportunities afforded through sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

The program on Wednesday will focus on engaging customers with Foursquare, a program geared toward the service and restaurant industries, he said.

Klingerman, owner of Cocoa Boutique, said workshops are organized in such a manner that extensive computer experience isn’t required. People looking to learn are welcome.

“The response has been extremely positive,” she said.

Shawn Wallace, one of Tech Haute’s members and IT consultant for For3 Technologies, said local business owners don’t realize the revenue they’re losing if not online. According to recent studies, 63 percent of small businesses lack a website, and yet 97 percent of consumers research products online before buying. If one’s business doesn’t pop up on a Google search, the competition certainly is, he said.

Through its own website, www.for3tech.com, Wallace’s company offers networking services, security and web design.

“Really anything computer-related,” he said, pointing out that social media are here to stay.

Jackson said local universities offer a lot of raw potential for businesses seeking knowledge and skilled workers.

“Our vision at this point is, we’re really just building the network,” he said.

Participation in the workshops is $10 and includes lunch, he said. Seating is limited to about 25.

Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or brian.boyce@tribstar.com.