By Sen. Bob Hertzberg

August 24, 2015

“This type of workshop is a tremendous benefit to small businesses in the state,” said Horace Heidt of the United Chambers of Commerce, San Fernando Valley and Region, which represents 21,000 local businesses, referring to a recent workshop on marketing through social media.

Heidt’s comment is just one of the many favorable reviews by the nearly 100 business people in the Valley who joined me for the free half-day workshop. The purpose was to learn how social media could help their firms grow, create jobs and improve the local economy.

Judging by responses, the attendees should be celebrated for their entrepreneurial spirit – and their willingness to adapt – and I find that exciting.

That is the same spirit I want to bring to state government, which is why in Sacramento I’m challenging the usefulness of burdensome fines for minor traffic violations, starting the conversation on tax reform and pushing for greater public access to government data.

The workshop challenges the notion that government doesn’t do enough to help businesses, and that state policymakers often seem interested only in regulations or barriers to free enterprise. Not true. Business community members learned from our event that public servants can also be savvy enough to react to change. That’s why sharing tips on social media to improve sales was deemed an essential part of the workshop. It’s not lost on many leaders that a stronger business pulse means a stronger economy not just in the Valley, but also statewide. And that better serves and employs our residents.

Held July 10 at Valley Presbyterian Hospital in Van Nuys, the workshop featured a nuts-and-bolts lecture by Juan Salazar, a Facebook outreach specialist. His presentation centered on how to better access consumers in our modern age.

Among the tips presented:

• The more complete and descriptive your social media page, the greater the chance of growing your online business presence.

• Share upcoming deals, promotions and events via social media.

• Photos and short videos will grab attention and improve viewership by prospective customers.

One major advantage of social media is that marketers can measure its effectiveness through metrics and analytic features. Business owners can see how many and how often people visit their social media page, and the workshop taught them how social media can be an effective, fast and convenient tool to measure overall marketing efforts.

This sort of practical, nonpartisan help is a legitimate concern for government and civic organizations. In fact, the workshop received support from the United Chambers of Commerce, San Fernando Valley and Region; Valley Industry and Commerce Association; Initiating Change in Our Neighborhoods-Community Development Corp.; Greater San Fernando Valley Chamber of Commerce; and Facebook Inc. Many of these organizations sponsor their own workshops and seminars, often free or at minimal cost, to encourage and facilitate business expansion.

My office hopes to offer another no-cost workshop soon.

Even experts can benefit from these community resources. Here was the feedback on the workshop from one participant: “Thought not to attend because I am very computer savvy but attended against my wishes and am so elated that I did. I learned so much from the presentation and all the literature shared complemented the learning processes.”

That leader knows that to survive and thrive, businesses must learn to adapt; instead of fighting change, they must make change work for them. Similar to how we progressed from the Pony Express to the telegraph to mobile telephony, there has been a paradigm shift in how businesses interact with current and potential customers. By accessing government and other resources, Valley companies can capitalize on the change. Welcome to the midway point of the second decade of the 21st century!

Sen. Bob Hertzberg is chairman of the California Senate Committee on Governance and Finance. He represents the 18th District in the San Fernando Valley.

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