Twitter followers and Facebook friends met in person and mingled Thursday, June 9 at the “Face 2 Face” networking event at the Dock at the Bay Restaurant, Bar & Banquet Facility in Blasdell.
Robin Wilson of The Wilson Edge, created and organized the event using Facebook and Eventbrite just as a pleasant get-together. However, these events are more than just opportunities to drink and talk; these events highlight just how important social media has become to small businesses and entrepreneurs, particularly during difficult economic times.
Wilson, a social media and marketing teacher and consultant also runs Buffalo Graphix with her husband Mike Wilson. Buffalo Graphix, a custom signs and apparel-printing company located on Hertel Avenue in Buffalo, always did well economically-speaking according to Wilson. Then the 2008 economic collapse hit. Shops on Hertel Avenue closed and new ones did not take their place quickly enough, if at all.
“Social media helped us (our business) out tremendously by keeping us in front of people,” said Wilson. “When you are in business and you are going to spend money wisely, you’re going to go to someone you have been watching, someone you know and trust. When things get better, then people try new places, trying to save money.”
Even though times continue to be tough, Wilson used things like e-mail newsletter marketing and Facebook in order to promote smaller, less expensive advertising options to her current and future customers.
“Maybe you couldn’t afford new signage on your building, but you could afford to put lettering on the back of your car,” said Wilson.
Many of the other attendees at Thursday’s event were also entrepreneurs interested in using social media to grown and publicize their businesses, like Donna Helminiak Scalfaro, owner of Carpet Care Services and Certified Financial Planner Amy Jo Lauber.
In Lauber’s case, her profession is very picky about how social media is used which can scare away some professionals from using it altogether.
“Self-regulatory compliance prevents a lot of people (financial planners) from using social media,” said Lauber. “You have to know about the constrictions.”