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Social media boost business, say many Facebook followers

Jacksonville Mercantile operator David Jesser is a social-media junkie.

Yes, his Facebook friends and Twitter followers will possibly find out what he had for lunch or learn his political insights — he is, after all, a City Council member. But most of all, he sees social media as an economic tool to boost his business, town and region.

"It's my belief that I can target and be assured of having people interacting with my business through it," said Jesser, who manages pages for his store, town and the annual World of Wine Festival. "I'm a content hound and do a lot of sharing."

Jesser will be among a panel of experts discussing the value of social media when Facebook's Small Business Boost tour rolls into town Thursday, April 24. The free event will be held at the Inn at the Commons, 200 N. Riverside Ave. Jesser will be joined by Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Southern Oregon Humane Society representatives to discuss their social-media experiences,

Facebook launched its local Business Boost program in 2011, teaching owners and managers how to find customers, build relationships and be discoverable online.

For Jesser, that means attracting followers who are thinking about where to shop, dine and vacation. The primary target for his social-media messages are women, ages 21 to 70 — "the decision makers on where we go when we travel and where we spend the day," Jesser said.

"Anything we post on those three (Facebook) venues goes into my Twitter feed. The whole purpose of using Facebook is that unless we improve our Southern Oregon economic base through tourism, it's going to be difficult to get very far ahead because of economic challenges that exist here."

Facebook made 20 tour stops in 2013 and will hit Bend and Eugene next week before turning south.

"We do shorter swings like in upstate New York and Rhode Island," said Facebook spokesperson Anna Van Hollen. "It's not one large tour. Our goal has been getting into a lot of different markets; we don't normally go to the same place twice."

Registration is at 8 a.m., and the conference will run from 8:30 to 11 a.m.

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden will speak before the Facebook presentation. The panel discussion will follow. Attendees should bring laptops or tablets.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregMTBusiness, friend him on Facebook and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/Economic Edge.