Sueanne Shirzay, 46, of Long Beach says Twitter connections are...

Sueanne Shirzay, 46, of Long Beach says Twitter connections are bringing in business. Those who want to learn how to use social media can attend the Unconference, the Social Media Camp on May 1 at Hofstra University. Credit: Handout

Sueanne Shirzay is a jewelry designer who grew up in the age of typewriters and telephones. But in the last few years she has embraced social media. "Everyone said, 'Use Twitter. Use Twitter,' " Shirzay said. "I said, 'What's that'? I immediately asked for help."

Shirzay -- who lives in Long Beach, is 46 and a mother of three -- said her business has increased eightfold. "I know my sales are coming from my Twitter people," she said.

But not all those who run small businesses, or who are older than 40, are as at ease with the new technology.

That's why some communications and marketing specialists are hosting what they are calling Long Island's first Social Media Camp at Hofstra University in Uniondale on May 1, from noon to 5.

Jeff Namnum, a marketing executive in South Hempstead and one of the organizers, is calling it an "unconference." That's because it's going to be unlike a typical conference, where an agenda is set out beforehand. At the free unconference, people wanting to attend can register at and suggest topics and vote on which others they want.

The conference is aimed at all who want to learn about social media -- Twitter, Facebook, etc. -- and particularly at small businesspeople.

"Not enough of them are taking advantage" of social media, Namnum said. "A lot of those that are, are doing it wrong. They're jumping into it as just another simple sales tool. They're looking at it like any other advertising" method. Social media should be used to "engage" people, he said.

Alyssa Nightingale, chief executive of Nightingale Public Relations in Huntington, says social media is a must for businesspeople these days.

"It opens up the world," Nightingale said. "This is how the younger generation is communicating these days."

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