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Social Media and Your Business




Building an Audience The true power of social media is in building an audience. As your audience grows you have a larger pool of people to market your goods and services to. Business get enamored with the millions upon millions of people that are flocking to social media sites. To often the thinking goes something like, “Here’s a built in audience. All I have to do is get in front of them and I’ll have all the business I can stand.” It is true that there are tons of folks on social media sites. And it is an excellent idea to get your business in front of as many people there as you can. The trouble is audiences on social media sites can be a bit fickle. Raw numbers of followers, fans or people who “Like” your Facebook page are usually not a great way to measure your success with social media. (The one thing those numbers are good for is stroking the ego of the person managing those accounts for you.) While harder to quantify, user engagement is a much more significant measure of success with social media. Because here’s the thing. Simply being in front of people does not turn them into your audience. Just look at how the word audience is defined.

  • Audience
  1. The group of spectators at a public event; listeners or viewers collectively, as in attendance at a theater or concert: The audience was respectful of the speaker’s opinion.
  2. The persons reached by a book, radio or television broadcast, etc.; public: Some works of music have a wide and varied audience.
  3. A regular public that manifests interest, support, enthusiasm, or the like; a following: Every art form has its audience.
  4. Opportunity to be heard; chance to speak to or before a person or group; a hearing.
  5. A formal interview with a sovereign, high officer of government, or other high-ranking person: an audience with the pope.
  6. The act of hearing, or attending to, words or sounds.
Notice that in order to call a group your audience they need to be “hearing or attending to words or sounds.”  So much of what businesses do on social media today is simply noise that no one is listening to. Web Publishing That’s why I see web publishing as the single most critical piece of any social media presence. More specifically I’m talking about content (i.e. articles, videos, photos, etc.) that is published on your own website, on your own domain, on a web hosting account that you pay for and control. Don’t get me wrong. Social media is a fantastic tool to make initial contact with people you might never reach any other way and connect them to your business. Social media can be the widest part of your marketing fulling that brings potential customers into your business. But there has to be something that you are connecting them to which is more compelling than a “me too” Facebook page. That something should be your main website. With the powerful web publishing tools out there today like WordPress, there is no reason any organization can’t build a powerfully engaging web presence at their main website that keeps people coming back over and over again. Besides, if your primary web marketing presence is a Facebook page then you are putting your organization’s online activity at the mercy of a monolithic company that is notorious for changing their rules on a whim, with no notice and no recourse. That’s a risky approach, to say the least! Website First, Social Media After Your first priority should be to build up your own website so that it becomes a strong healthy hive of activity on the web that’s centered around your organization. Once you have your website in place and starting to build an actual audience, you know the “attending to your words” kind, then when you start engaging social media sites like Facebook and Twitter you will see much more success. People will see that you have something worthwhile to say and will pay much closer attention. Not only that, but this approach will completely set your organization apart from the overwhelming majority of your competitors. But nearly all of them are still making the huge mistake of ignoring the power of web publishing. They go straight for big social media numbers with no plan to engage those passers-by and funnel them ever closer to paying customers. Be forewarned. This approach is one that starts off more slowly. In the end, though, it is far more effective and worth it. Budgetary Issues All too often, business owners make the mistake of thinking that a website is either too expensive, too hard to maintain or completely useless for their type of business. Let’s look at the latter of those mistakes first.  If you own a business, you need a website, especially if you operate a small business.  More and more people are using the internet to make purchasing decisions.  If you’re seeing a down-turn in your business, you may be blaming it totally on the economic recession.  That may or may not be true, depending on the product(s) or service(s) you offer. Do some research.  Find out what similar products and services are available to your customers via internet sites.  I can almost guarantee that, even if you operate a local handyman service, you’ll find your competition somewhere on the web. When you’re done with that, ask yourself if you need a website.  I believe that you’ll say “yes.” Let’s look at the expenses involved with operating a website.  You can do some research and find some really inexpensive hosting solutions, but you may not know possess the know-how to get started.  You’ll need to hire a person or firm to design your site, which could be, and I stress that – COULD BE – expensive. I encourage you to re-read the section above entitled “Web Publishing.”  There are tools – like WordPress, which is the backbone of this website – that EVERYONE can use to create an engaging and interactive website.  You’ll need a little bit of knowledge to operate your site and you’ll be publishing new content with ease. Wordpress and other “blogging” platforms like it are changing the face of the small business.  These platform offer free and paid templates that are relatively easy to customize (colors, graphics, layout, etc.) for someone who has some basic knowledge and there are plenty of ways to learn how to do it for those that don’t. You could actually have a website up and running for under $250 and be able to maintain the site yourself, no matter your skill level.  And that should push aside the thoughts about the difficulty in maintaining the site. Now that you’ve read all of this, ask yourself whether or not your business needs a website.  The answer is a most emphatic “YES!” I’ll be writing more on this subject later, but if you have questions about how easy it is, feel free to call me and discuss your options.  My number is 601-618-MISS (6477)]]]]> ]]>

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Engaging young readers to explore the world through words



Nora Yates gets her first taste of how much fun books can be. (photo by Kelle Barfield)

For most people, retirement means turning off the alarm clock and relaxing the days away. Vicksburg native Kelle Barfield is not most people.

Barfield’s resume includes a degree in magazine journalism and a move to New York City for positions at Doubleday-Dell Publishing, Random House and Southern Living. She returned to Vicksburg in 1986 and began her position as a technical editor of nuclear procedures at Grand Gulf Nuclear Station. She was planning to finally retire in 2018, when she learned that the founder of Lorelei Books was also retiring, and Vicksburg’s only local bookstore would close.

“Every town needs a bookstore!” Barfield said, so she purchased the restoration-era building and is spending her retirement continuing the legacy of Lorelei.

Vicksburg’s younger readers are grateful she did.

“My father was a voracious reader with an incessantly curious mind. My inherited DNA loves literacy and learning as much as the air I breathe,” Barfield said. Because of this, she tries to instill her love of exploring the world through books in the children that visit her store.

Before the pandemic, Lorelei hosted story readings on Saturdays. The store also offered craft activities, free materials for children to write their own books and hosted guest readers. Children could also participate in a pen-pal program where children write their favorite literary character and get a letter back in the mail.

“Who doesn’t love getting a real letter?” Barfield asked.

She didn’t let the pandemic totally stop her from engaging readers. She created an Easter family drive-by word search challenge downtown. It encouraged children to work with their parents to come up with as many words as they could from letters displayed on large Easter egg posters.

According to Barfield, “Learning should truly be a family activity enjoyed by all.”

Although the pandemic has temporarily stopped some of Lorelei’s programs, Barfield is not giving up. She has been in talks with Marie Cunningham, head of children’s programs for the Warren County-Vicksburg Public Library, about a partnership of online reading events as a substitute for in person story time.

Lorelei has set up a YouTube channel and is working out the kinks to present Facebook video posts of readings.

“We had many ideas prior to the pandemic that we’re hoping to establish once it’s clearer what the future holds for online and in person events,” Barfield said.

Barfield also works with organizations such as United Way and Mutual Credit Union to support literacy in schools.

“We recently used a very generous donation to gift 150 books to A.W. Watson Elementary School in memory of Heidi Burrell,” she said. “She was a United Way staffer who we lost in July. I’m prayerful that ‘Heidi’s Hideout’ will offer the joy of learning to even more youngsters in our region.”

In this age of computers, Kindles and internet superstores, Vicksburg’s young readers are lucky to have Lorelei Books and Kelle Barfield’s version of retirement.

Anyone wanting to donate a book to Heidi’s Hideout can call Lorelei Books at 601-634-8624 and arrange to have a book delivered in their name.

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The Klondyke has new owners



Woody and Holly Ramo, the new owners of the Historic Klondyke Trading Post, (ohoto by David Day)

Woody and Holly Ramo have purchased the Klondyke, 100 N. Washington St., from Rhonda Day.

“We’re going to update the place a bit and bring  back breakfast, dinner and Karaoke,” Woody Ramo said. “I’m so excited,” Holly Ramos added.

The Ramos are best known for operating The Games Bar and Restaurant in Delta, Louisiana, a business they purchased in 2016.

“I am so happy for Holly and Woody,” Day said. “They are the perfect couple to operate the Klondyke and carry on the hundred-year tradition of serving the Vicksburg community.”

The Historic Klondyke Trading Post has been in continuous operation for more than 60 years serving food, and a business called the Klondyke has been in that location since the 1930s. A restaurant, saloon or bar has been in the location since the 1890s when the SilverMoon Cafe sat there.

The location’s long and varied history can be traced back to indigenous Americans trading in the bayou and the hillside that leads up to the old downtown area of Vicksburg. A band of pirates called the Kangaroos controlled the area in the 1830s until the “vicious gamblers” were run out of town. The Vicksburg Militia, under the guidance of Dr. Hugh Bodley, attacked the Kangaroos’ stronghold on July 5, 1835, and Dr. Bodley was killed in the attack. A monument to his efforts is located up the hill from the Klondyke at Farmer and First East streets. During the Civil War, the area was heavily used and included Union barracks.

Rhonda and David Day purchased the Klondyke from Janelle and Eddie Cook in November of 2005. Rhonda Day became the sole owner in 2018.

Asked what she was going to do with her time now that it had been sold, Day’s response was simple.

“I’m going to play with my grandbabies and enjoy that front porch at Eagle Lake,” she said.

Rhonda Day after her last full day operating the Klondyke Trading Post. (photo by David Day)

Day made the decision during the height of the COVID-19 crisis to operate the restaurant only during lunch hours. The Ramos plan to reopen all of it in the coming months.

“We will get our liquor license and open the karaoke bar soon, but for now we are going to focus on getting breakfast up and running. Maybe as soon as next week,” Holly Ramo said.

“One of the best things for me is the size of that cooler,” said an excited Woody Ramo. “I can put all kinds of crawfish in there to cook up for folks.”

Rhonda Day’s husband, David Day, is the publisher of the Vicksburg Daily News.



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Vicksburg native Jaron Smith launched Run Your Gun Tactical to train firearm users



(photo courtesy Jaron Smith)

Vicksburg native Jaron Smith has launched Run Your Gun Tactical, a firearm training and manufacturing company based in Brandon, Mississippi.

Smith is a 2010 graduate of Vicksburg High School where he was known for his intelligence and being a great student.

He started his company in early August, and it has taken off in a good direction with Smith teaching multiple classes on firearm safety.

The company began after an incident at a local church where windows were broken out. The incident prompted the pastor to investigate firearm protection, and Smith stepped in to help by getting certified as a firearms instructor. Run Your Gun Tactical now deals with church security where Smith trains someone in the church to be prepared for incidents such as an active shooter situation.

“I want to build confidence in people while they are handling a firearm,” Smith said. “Safety cannot and will not be compromised.”

Smith and Run Your Gun Tactical are trained to handle any type of firearm but only offers training in handguns and AR-15-style rifles at this time. One of the purposes for the company is getting individuals prepared for concealed carry permits, which are popular in Mississippi. He gives firearm training to individuals 13 years old and up, and training with Run Your Gun Tactical begins with a classroom session before hands-on training.

The company is growing more each week and Smith has major goals for his business. In just a short amount of time, he has held firearm training classes in Tupelo and Greenwood, Mississippi.

By the beginning of next year or sooner, Run Your Gun Tactical will be able to manufacture and sell firearms made by Smith.

“Success can be yours,” Smith said. “Do not be afraid to succeed, and there will be many obstacles you will have to face.”

For more information, visit the Run Your Gun Tactical website or Facebook page.

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