MISSION, RGV – Mission Economic Development Corporation’s Social Media Summit takes place at the Center for Education and Economic Development on Thursday, Nov. 1, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This is the second year the event has been held. Last year, 120 people attended. This year it is a sell-out with over 200 attendees. 

The attraction? Twenty speakers from across the country imparting their expertise at 20 workshops, not to mention coffee from Jitterz, lunch by Corner Bakery and a beer social at 3:30 p.m. courtesy of 5×5 Brewing Company.

Tickets cost $150 but all have now been sold.

“Last year, we thought the business community and others responded very well to the conference. We were pleasantly surprised by how many people came out and supported it,” said Teclo Garcia, director of strategic partnerships for Mission EDC.

“There were a lot of folks in the Valley that were hungry for that knowledge. We had about 120 people and we did very little marketing and advertising for it. We thought we need to keep doing this, this is what we ought to be doing, in terms of Mission EDC’s mission of training a 21st Century workforce.”

Some companies are missing out on advantages of having a social media presence. The Rio Grande Guardian and RGV Public Radio 88 FM asked Garcia why they should be paying attention.

“Social media and digital marketing are extremely important. It is not just a skill or a particular professional asset that should be left to the kids. People think, social media, that is for entertainers. It is not. You can ask any Fortune 500 company how serious they take social media and the use of their platforms for communications, audience development, and customers and it is top of their list. 

“From banks to schools to the federal government to nonprofits to small businesses, social media is very important. So, we wanted to continue with the conference and have a bigger and better one this year.”

Garcia predicted this year’s summit will be better than last year’s because the organizers have garnered feedback from those who attended in 2017.

“People have said they liked the one-hour workshops but felt they were not getting enough information. So, we will have one workshop on Facebook alone that will run for two hours. Facebook has changed dramatically, because of all the security they are doing. We are trying to provide something for everyone.”

Asked to define social media for those who do not use it, Garcia said:

“Social media, when you boil it all down, is communications. We now have a different way of communicating. You’ve had television commercials, print advertising, but digital media is a lot more interactive. Social media platforms are Internet-based. Things people have heard of but perhaps not used, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat. These are all platforms people can use to communicate with their audience. 

“People are using social media to connect with their audience. For example, if you are a school district, you are on social media, your audience is parents. If you are a city, you are on social media, your audience is your citizens. It is an important medium to communicate, organize and sell.”

A mistake some companies make, Garcia said, is leaving their social media management to people that do not have sufficient skills.

“Although anyone can get into social media, to do it correctly, it is a skill. Find out how many social media manager jobs there are out there. There are probably hundreds of thousands of those jobs. Maybe five years ago there were not many at all. It is a job, it is a skill and people need training for it, just like anything else. 

“I do not want to labor this point but social media is not for kids. People say, I want to do social media, I will hire an intern. Well, if you want to trust your company’s communications and mission statement and the public face to an intern that does not know your company… You can be good at social media but are you good at communicating? Can you communicate the mission statement and the audience development that you need to develop through social media? Are you good at that too? 

“I often ask business owners and managers if they trust the people who are doing their social media to communicate exactly what they are trying to communicate to their customers. It is a skill.”

Asked how the Social Media Summit came about, Garcia said he was having a conversation one day with Mission EDC CEO Alex Meade.

“We were talking about the fact that we do not have a communications or a digital marketing summit here in the Rio Grande Valley. We said, why do we not do one as a way to train the local workforce in 21st Century skills? At the same time it allows us to market the CEED building and Mission as a leader in that field. We think we are doing something for businesses, something that is skills-related. We think we are doing something for the region.”

Editor’s Note: Click here to see the program for Mission EDC’s Social Media Summit ’18.