Millions of people use social media to keep in touch with family and friends, share photos of their pets, or let people know they are sitting in a coffee shop.
But for businesses and organizations looking to increase their market share, social media has become an important marketing tool.
Utilizing social media to its greatest potential could require at least one full-time employee and the purchase of several computer programs — things that are cost prohibitive for small and medium-sized businesses.
That is where Kevin McNulty can help.
“With social media you can see what people are saying and what they want,” said McNulty, president and CEO of NetWeave Social Networking, a Palmetto-based company offering social media management services.
“Social media changes all the time,” he said. “That is why businesses need us.
“We’re in this every day and know how to leverage that change for their benefit,” McNulty said.
The 17-year Palmetto resident has a background in corporate communications and training, which is useful in running his nine-year-old business with his partner, Pamela Whitman, who has a degree from the University of South Florida.
“We are hired as communicators on behalf of a business,” McNulty said. “And I hire people with the talent and train them to use the right skills.”
They started NetWeave Social Networking on June 1, 2009.
With her hospitality degree, Whitman had the idea to start a party planning and social-marketing business.
McNulty was working for a company across Tampa Bay and was tired of the commute.
“In 2009, the beginning of the recession, there wasn’t any money for marketing, and businesses were looking for a cheaper way to market themselves,” McNulty said. “So the event-planning side was dropped, and we started a marketing firm with just a laptop.”
He became familiar with social media in the late 1990s, early 2000s using one of the first social media sites, Friendster.
Then MySpace followed, and Facebook started in 2005 or 2006.
McNulty graduated in 1986 from California State University–Fullerton with a degree in phycology.
In 1988 he had a part-time desktop publishing business while working fulltime in employee relations
“I had a Mac SE and a laser printer, which cost more than the computer,” McNulty said.
The company now has 11 people working in two countries, and nine states, serving 74 clients.
“Not bad for nine years,” McNulty said.
Whitman is the COO and runs the daily operation of the company.
McNulty’s daughter, Erin, is vice president of quality assurance.
“She started working with me when she was 16,” he said.
His son, Sean, also worked at NetWeave, but has moved on to pursue another career.
The three company officers all work with at least one client so they can continue to understand their clients’ needs.
“The client keeps us in business.” McNulty said.
Owning a business keeps McNulty busy. He sometimes can be seen at a coffee shop that has WiFi, working on a project or meeting with a client.
“I love movies and cooking, though running a business like ours, it’s hard to find time for either,” he said.
McNulty recently announced a partnership with another area technology company, Abacus Web Services.
Founded in 1999, Abacus offers website building, search engine optimization, web and email hosting, and other internet services that NetWeave does not offer.
“We offer complete marketing services, manage your social media, create digital ads, and write blogs,” McNulty said. “Anything that helps to increase a business’ profile on the internet.
“And with the partnership with Abacus Web Services, we now can offer website services,” he said.
McNulty has known David Grace, the CEO of Abacus, since 2009, when they both served on the Manatee County Chamber of Commerce Internet Technology Committee.
“We would refer customers to each other over the years,” McNulty said. “More people are looking for one-stop shopping, and we figured we both can stick to our core competencies and make it convenient for our clients and us.”
NetWeave Social Networking’s core business is digital marketing.
“The nice thing about digital marketing is everything can be measured,” McNulty said.
With sophisticated programs his firm counts every “like,” “share” and “view” on the client’s Facebook, Twitter, or other social media platform.
They also track comments made in posts, and who is “friending” or “following” the business’s social media site.
Analyzing this data and other gathered data points, they help the client decide what kind and where to run an ad.
“We take what matters most to our business clients based on their goals,” McNulty said. “It’s not just numbers, but analysis.
“You have to know the audience to make social media work for you,” he said.
With a variety of business types, his firm needs to know how to target different types of audiences.
Some of his clients are the Manatee County Chamber of Commerce, the South Florida Museum, Pets Plus in Parrish and the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“The visitor’s bureau has been a client for five years,” McNulty said. “We manage all their social media and social ad buys.”
Since NetWeave took over managing the visitor’s bureau’s social media the number of “likes” has increased.
“They started with 5,000 to 7,000 followers, and they now have 50,000 followers,” McNulty said. “That’s 10 times the number in four or five years.”