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Small business webinar

Wednesday, the Mississippi Development Authority’s Entrepreneur Center in conjunction with Mississippi State University Extension Service hosted the first of a four-part webinar series for small business owners to learn the benefits of an online presence.

The event was held at the offices of Picayune Main Street at 200 Hwy. 11 South. 

Picayune Main Street Director Reba Beebe said the webinars offer an opportunity for business owners to learn about taking advantage of new technology. 

The first session, taught by Lara Bowman with MSU Extension Service, was titled, “Finding You on the Go!: Directing customers to your business through mobile devices.”

Bowman said that 58 percent of Americans have smartphones and 63 percent of those users go online. 

Seventy-four percent of smartphone users say they use their device to find for directions based on their current location, Bowman said. 

Bowman touched on a variety of ways business owners can utilize Google Business and Bing during presentation.

Ninety-seven percent of users search for businesses online, Bowman said, and it is important to register with Google Business and keep information such as the address, phone number and hours current. 

Bowman said 12 percent of smartphone users use geosocial services, which entails sharing location information with people in the same social network. 

There are applications for smartphones that make recommendations based on a user’s current location, Bowman said. 

The most popular geosocial applications include Foursquare, Yelp, Urbanspoon and Tripadvisor, Bowman said. 

Bowman said users can obtain at reviews, hours and contact information for businesses.

Bowman said 34 percent of cell phone users go online via the device so a business should have a mobile friendly website. Mobile sites offer smaller pages that are friendly to touch screens.  

Websites can also include quick response code readers, which are imbedded with links that can take the customer to coupons, maps and newsletters. 

Christine Collier, RN recently opened Doxa Permanent Makeup in Salon Zeal at 321 Curan Avenue in Picayune. 

“I learned that I definitely need to improve in the area of reaching out to the public through technology,” Collier said. 

Katy Jarrel owns Picayune’s Crystal Gallery at 210 East Canal Street. 

Jarrel said she is going to try to apply what she learned about applications. 

“I learned that many people use their phones for shopping,” Jarrel said. “And good things to incorporate into and improve my business.”

Beebe said mobile devices are changing how customers find businesses and “we need to keep up.”

“One of the things business owners need to do is register with Google Business so customers can find them and have a mobile friendly website.” Beebe said. 

The second session will be held on September 10 from noon to 1 p.m. and is titled “Stand out in the Virtual Crowd: Learn how to optimize your presence through search engines.” 

It will be held at the Picayune Main Street offices located at 200 Hwy. 11 South. 

Contact Beebe at 601-799-3070 for more information or the website at www.msenetworks.org to sign up.