Social Sonar recently held a mixer for local business owners to discuss how social media affects them. Twirly Girls hosted the event and we had ten business owners (and a few friends) in attendance. The feeling in the room seemed to be somewhat uniform: With the hard times brought on by this economy, being creative and building your own business has become the only way some families can put food on their table. We were very excited to see such innovative entrepreneurs at the mixer.
Among our attendees, we had Bel, the owner of the dance studio Twirly Girls, who has been successfully running her business for over two years. She uses Facebook, Twitter and Meetup to keep people up-to-date on the studio's events. Doug joined us and he owns DK Designs. He creates the t-shirts sold at Twirly Girls. He is not yet using social media for his business. We also had Jenna's Jams. Jenna jars and sells her own jams and pickles. She manages a fan page on Facebook. Andrew from Liquidpulp Photography, who does most of the photography for Twirly Girls, was also in attendance. He uses Facebook and Twitter to publicize his deals. Shelly from Shelly's Pole Studio was there and also very kindly performed a demonstration for our audience. She also uses Facebook and Twitter for her business.
Besides discussing the benefits to using social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, a hot topic was whether using deal websites such as Groupon or Living Social was beneficial to small businesses. Although the sites are certainly continuing to find companies with deals to offer, it seems like many business owners are wary of the price cut they have to make in order to have access to any deal site's customer list. On one hand, offering a deal may expose your business to a whole new set of customers. On the other hand, you are being paid a fraction of what you would normally make and there are no guarantees that any of those customers will return.
We also touched on the topic of professionals, such as doctors and attorneys, using social media. As it gains popularity, having some kind of presence on social media websites is becoming almost mandatory. We discussed some of our success stories, and how you can build followers on Twitter or fans on Facebook.
The members of Social Sonar really enjoyed interacting with our attendees. Each of us have a different area of expertise, so we were able to bring a fairly vast amount of experience to the event. We felt that these owners already understood the importance of incorporating social media into their marketing plan -- some just needed some advice on how to implement it. Personal interactions with your customers through social media sites can make a significant difference to a customer who might be on the fence about using your service or buying your product.
We at Social Sonar really feel like owning your own business is the American dream and we feel very fortunate to have shared our time with this group of local business owners. If you are interested in hosting a Social Sonar mixer with other business owners in your area, please let us know.