Montecito Bank & Trust concluded its second annual B2B series in Santa Barbara on Nov. 7 at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort, with the popular seminar on social media.

The event featured guest speaker Matt Hicks, former Facebook communications manager and current adviser to R to Z Studios, who presented “Thinking Beyond ‘Likes,’” and shared valuable insights into the ever-evolving social media space.

As one of the first members of Facebook’s communications and PR team, Hicks helped define the company’s public voice. He also managed advertising and business communications, worked with top executives to position Facebook as an essential tool for marketers and consumers, and led its early international growth and political outreach campaigns.

Today, Hicks is an adviser to R to Z Studios, the social marketing and production company founded by Randi Zuckerberg, and is an independent strategic consultant on social media and communications. Over the years, his clients have included the Clinton Global Initiative, Cirque du Soleil and YouTube, which he helped to launch publicly. He’s currently working on his first book about the impact of social media.

Earlier in the day, local business owners and professionals looking to learn more about using social media for their businesses attended a workshop titled “Facebook 101 for Business.” The workshop, facilitated by authors Lorrie Thomas Ross and Justin Seely, was designed to help beginner and intermediate Facebook users who are responsible for their business’ social media presence build their Facebook Business pages, and boost business.

Seely assisted guests in real time, as they sat in front of laptops — some even building a Business page for the first time — to understand the basics, such as status updates, the news feed and content for posts, including photos, videos and more. Ross explained and demonstrated how to optimize the pages with tech tips, how to make social media pages more search engine visible, and gave marketing ideas to brand, build and boost business.

Guests mingle and network during the B2B event at Fess Parker's DoubleTree Resort. (Montecito Bank & Trust photo)

Guests mingle and network during the B2B event at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort. (Montecito Bank & Trust photo)

For the evening portion of the event, guests mingled and had the opportunity to network with each other, and make new connections during the first hour. Members of the local business and nonprofit communities also had the chance to discover more about local business resources available to them, including the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce,, Marketing U, MediaM8, Montecito Bank & Trust, the Pacific Coast Business Times, Pumpflix, the Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce, Santa Barbara City College, Santa Barbara NAWBO, the Scheinfeld Center, Web Marketing Therapy and WSI Global Marketing, which each had informational booths at the event.

During the evening’s keynote presentation, Hicks took guests on an in-depth tour on how businesses can use Facebook to develop their social voice and authentic persona, how to compete for attention on the news feed, and how to take advantage of emerging opportunities beyond the “Page.” Hicks shared that one in every seven people is on Facebook, a total of just over 1 billion people on the site, and that they estimate users spend one in every seven minutes online on the Facebook site.

According to Hicks, there are 11 million small businesses on Facebook, but only 7 million of those businesses have an active page, and only 3 million of those pages post on a regular basis.

Hicks also gave guests four “Power Tips” to help develop their Facebook Business pages: 1) track “People Talking About” vs. “Likes”; 2) “Serialize Content”; 3) “Targeted Posts”; and 4) “Create Limits.” For each of these informative pointers, Hicks included examples of actual small businesses effectively utilizing Facebook to generate awareness and ultimately grow their business.

“It is incredibly important to speak like a person, and less like a company,” Hicks said. “Stay relevant to people’s lives, tell stories, and always put people first, as Facebook fundamentally is a personal medium. Use the site as yourself and think about potential consumers as people just like you.”

The B2B series is designed to bring local businesses together to network and learn from nationally recognized experts on a number of topics that matter most to Santa Barbara and Ventura County businesses. The topics for this year’s B2B series came as a result of surveys completed by attendees of last year’s series. Click here to find out more about the B2B series.

— Jennifer Guess is a publicist representing Montecito Bank & Trust.