About a dozen people learned the ins and outs of social media at a basement studio in Astoria last week, getting a lesson in blogging and web applications like Facebook and Twitter.
The four-hour workshop was the first that a company called Bloggers School plans to hold once a month for people and business owners who want to connect with like-minded individuals and potential customers by harnessing the power of the Internet, but may be a little overwhelmed by the technology.
The first session attracted both types of individuals, including Paul Pluda and Keith Grillman. Pluda is a businessman looking to connect with potential customers.
“I just want to learn more about blogging and networking so I can connect to the outside world,” said Pluda on why he chose to sign up for the workshop.
Grillman, on the other hand, registered for the session for personal reasons. The Howard Beach resident said that he is interested in comic books and gaming, and would like to use social networking sites to connect with people who have similar interests, as well as share his own opinions.
“I’d like to start a website where I can review comic books and video games,” he said.
Bloggers School was started by John Ciampa and Carolina Frederico, who met at a coffee shop and realized they shared a love of blogging. Frederico used to work for the largest newspaper in Brazil, and said she turned to blogging because she wanted to be her own news outlet, and not have her work filtered through an editor.
“I realized I didn’t have to do what I hate or be with people I don’t like,” she told the participants in the first workshop. “I would see my stories in the paper the next day, and people would change the content. I discovered that I could be my own media.”
But Frederico was quick to point out that the social media she and Ciampa were talking about “is not just about blogging.”
They told the workshop that social media was about connecting via the Internet in a variety of different ways, through applications like Facebook and Twitter, as well as through your own website.
The pair said it was especially important for businesses these days to establish a vibrant web presence.
Federico said the rise of the search engine has changed the way businesses need to interact with customers. Now consumers, she said, are actively seeking out goods and services they want, and are trying to find a person or business who can provide them.
“Before, advertising was ‘I’m here, I’m here,’” said Federico, waving her hands back and forth over her head. “Now, people are looking for you.
Ciampa said that many business owner are under the illusion that they are easily findable on the Internet because they type the exact name of the their business in popular search engines like Google, which pulls up their website.
“How many people are actually going to look for your restaurant by typing in the name?” asked Ciampa.
Ciampa said that more often than not people are using key words - searching with phrases like “Spanish restaurants” or “pet stores” – to find what they are looking for, not using the names of businesses they may already know.
Most importantly, Ciampa said it was important to establish a small following that will grow over time as you make more and more connections.
“Jesus was a blogger,” said Ciampa. “He only had 12 followers, but it was enough to get his message out.”
Bloggers School plans to hold similar workshops once a month. For more information, visit www.BloggersSchool.com.