Another study revealed that the most "plugged-in" small businesses
-- in terms of using Internet technologies such as Web sites,
Facebook and Twitter -- are more competitive when compared to those
with a weaker Internet presence.
A local man, Loyd Kirby, hopes to
help area businesses with developing and maintaining an effective
Internet presence as he launches Kirby Media Design.
The overall goal of Kirby Media Design is to create and maintain
an effective Internet presence for small- and medium-sized
businesses that do not have the personnel or resources to do so. In
addition, Kirby said he will make a concerted effort to get to know
each organization and what makes it unique so that the individuality
is reflected in its Internet presence.
"I'm always careful to use the term ‘Internet presence,'" Kirby
said. "Many people think that just having a Web site is enough --
and in some cases, it might be. But research is showing that a
multifaceted approach, using a Web site and social media such as
Twitter and Facebook, is more effective and yields better results
He mentioned a recently released study that found social media
friends of businesses feel more inclined to purchase from those
establishments. The study revealed that more than half of the people
who are Facebook fans or Twitter followers of a particular business
indicated that doing so has increased their willingness to purchase
from and recommend those businesses and companies to their friends.
"Many businesspeople correctly think that things like Facebook
and Twitter will never replace the best kind of advertising, which
is word of mouth," he said. "But indications are that businesses
utilizing such technologies actually see an increase in their
word-of-mouth advertising. In one study, 60 percent of Facebook fans
of a business or brand said being a Facebook fan increased the
chance they would recommend that business or brand to a friend.
Among Twitter followers, that number was almost 80 percent."
Kirby said one big factor in that process is that the consumer
chooses to follow or become a fan of the business on Twitter or
Facebook, so that indicates their interest and that they desire the
information. Consequently, he added, it follows that a business
effectively using such technologies to get its message out to people
who have self-selected to receive such information is going to have
a higher response rate when compared with using traditional methods
such as mass mailings or general public advertising.
It's also important that a balance is achieved in using social
media, Kirby said. By using Facebook or Twitter too little,
consumers may not be as aware of the establishment as the business
owner would like. Conversely, overuse of Facebook and Twitter by
sending too many messages too frequently can alienate customers.
"One thing we will strive to do is help businesses achieve that
equilibrium in getting their messages out to maintain awareness
without alienating the consumers by bombarding them with too many
messages," Kirby said.
Kirby is no stranger to computers and Web design. He earned his
master's degree in communication from the University of
Illinois-Springfield with an emphasis in Internet/multimedia
authoring and digital delivery platforms. The final project for his
master's degree was a multimedia creation combining text, graphics
and video as a stand-alone interactive electronic recruiting tool
for the college admissions department where he taught to use at
"I was putting together multimedia creations before it was
‘trendy' to do so," Kirby said.
Not only has he logged countless hours of experience with coding
hypertext markup language (or HTML, the basic language in which all
Web pages are authored) and other Web design languages, technologies
and software such as Adobe Flash; he also has extensive experience
with digital videography and photography, immersive panoramic
imagery, and animated graphics.
His work in the field includes putting the first institutional
Web site online when he was a full-time faculty member at Lincoln
College in Lincoln. In addition, he served as webmaster and public
relations assistant in the department of surgery at the SIU School
of Medicine in Springfield. He added video testimonials from
patients and a 360-degree virtual tour of the educational lab
facilities into the Web site of the department. The departmental
site he designed saw an 800 percent increase in traffic within six
months of its initial launch, becoming the most-visited departmental
site. While at the SIU-SOM, he was asked to serve as the lone Web
designer and technical consultant on the five-member committee that
designed and launched an institutionwide interactive Web site for
the clinical practice group of the school.
[to top of second column]
Simply setting up a Web site, Facebook page or Twitter account
doesn't guarantee results, Kirby said. He said care must be taken to
maintain those communication mechanisms with current, relevant
"I liken it to owning an automobile," Kirby explained. "Someone
who buys a new vehicle but does nothing to maintain it will
encounter problems. Initially, that vehicle will probably function
effectively, but as time passes, problems will arise. With a car,
owners need to do things such as change the oil, rotate the tires
and check the fluids.
"The same concept is true of setting up a Web site, Facebook page
or Twitter account. It's not enough just to set it up; it needs to
be updated and maintained consistently over time to optimize
performance and maximize effectiveness."
In addition, Kirby said many companies are disappointed with the
results of their Internet presence because they fail to promote it.
"Companies often take what I call a ‘Field of Dreams' approach to
their Internet presence with the mindset ‘if you build it, they will
come," he explained. "You can develop the flashiest, most
informative Web presence, but if it isn't properly promoted, it will
be far less than effective.
"A business needs to be sure to market its Internet presence,
whether it consists of a Web site, Facebook, Twitter account or any
combination. Simple steps such as including the information on their
stationery, invoices, advertising and business cards are a good
Such marketing efforts can help businesses project a more
professional image, Kirby said. "If a customer receives an e-mail
from a company with a ‘generic' yahoo.com or hotmail.com address,
some may view that a bit differently than an e-mail from a business
with its own domain name and Web site," he added.
In addition, Kirby said a strong Internet presence by businesses
also reflects well on the community and the area.
"When families or other businesses look into what Lincoln has to
offer, one of the first resources they use is the Internet," Kirby
explained. "Whether visiting or relocating, a strong Internet
presence by businesses and organizations will help (give) people a
better sense of the city and the many products and services
available through industries and retailers in the area."
Kirby said his unique combination of experiences will be useful
in creating, maintaining and promoting the Internet presence of a
business. In addition to teaching mass communication, journalism and
broadcasting at the collegiate level, he has worked with print,
radio and television media as a public relations director and as a
reporter. He's volunteered to publicize various activities such as
the spring musicals and madrigal dinners at LCHS.
Kirby wants to make Kirby Media Design a "one-stop shop" for
businesses interested in development of an Internet presence. He
handles domain name registry, Web page construction, digital
photography and videography, creation of static and animated
graphics, e-mail setup, and Twitter and Facebook setup. Just as
important, he will work with companies to maintain and revise and
update their Internet presence to keep it updated.
"In a recent study, more than 40 percent of customers searching
the Internet for information about a product or company reported
being frustrated," Kirby said. "Either they couldn't find the
information, or the information they found was outdated or
incomplete. Just as an effective Internet presence can help attract
customers for a business, an outdated or poorly maintained Internet
presence can frustrate them to the same degree.
"That's why maintaining an Internet presence is every bit as
important as establishing one."
The Kirby Media Design Web site is located at
e-mail, Twitter and Facebook information can be found on the site's
home page. Kirby Media Design also can be contacted at 217-737-6768.
[Text from file received]