Jess Mitchell came looking for advice on how to manage the time she spends on social media as creative director at Willington Nameplate. After attending a CBIA workshop on social media last month at the Crowne Plaza in Cromwell, she had a plan: and several new ideas for how to jump-start her company's foray into this ever-evolving medium.

"I have so many ideas buzzing in my head," she says. "I'm going to interview [our owner]. I think that's going to be my first step to find out what our identity is, what our voice is."

The CBIA program gave attendees like Mitchell a chance to discuss ways of developing their companies' identities and explore new strategies for taking existing social media initiatives to the next level.

Presenter Brent Robertson, chief creative officer at Fathom, a strategic branding, design, and interactive firm, stresses the importance of creating clear, concise online profiles that capture an organization's personality and consider the needs and comfort level of its audience.

"Don't make it sterile," he says. "You're a human being and social media is about connecting with other human beings."

Keep the Conversation Alive

Connecting with those other human beings requires carefully thought-out communications. Robertson encourages businesspeople to consider the intent of the content they deliver. Should it engage or simply inform their audience? He also suggests using diverse forms of media, such as photos and video.

"Your goal in social media is to extend the conversation as long as you can," he says. Creating attractive and engaging content is an essential part of keeping that conversation alive.

The Next Generation

Amy Stanton, vice president of marketing for Connex Credit Union, says her company is using social media to address one of the greatest challenges facing the industry: bringing younger customers into their current membership.

"We've lined it up as a huge piece of tracking that next generation," she says.

Businesses hesitant to try social media are like shy people at dances, according to Ed Main, who handles publicity and public relations at the Connecticut Science Center. They're waiting for someone else to make the first move onto the dance floor. But social media wallflowers won't reap many rewards.

"Get in there and mingle," he says. "And don't be afraid to do your chicken dance."