I’ve been employed at Be Visible Associates as a digital media strategist since March 1st of this year. This post is about how I came from small-town Delaware and with the advent of Social Media was able to help grow businesses.
Go back in time a little bit to a conversation with my father who runs the Business Improvement District (BID) in Wilmington, Delaware about how the BID was using its Social Media presence to get people who worked in the city (but who didn’t necessarily live there) to stay in the city after work. It wasn’t quite successful. After presenting some of my ideas of how to do it more effectively, he introduced me to the Director of Economic Restructuring in Wilmington. Together he, I, and members of the local start-up and co-working community conceived a project that we called: #BeHere.
There was a preconceived notion that that there was nothing to do and nowhere to shop in Wilmington. That wasn’t true, but the people living and working there literally did not know what businesses were right around the corner from them! Moreover, people weren’t walking down the street to find those businesses either; they were using Google and/or their mobile devices to look for them.
A BID’s mission is to help local businesses thrive, and their research indicated that only 12% of the businesses in the area had claimed their Google Places Pages – or any other online directory for that matter (let alone Facebook or Twitter). Using Facebook Business Pages, Twitter (with the handle @BeHereWilmo and hashtag #BeHere), and email marketing, we organized a grass-roots effort/”tweet-up” of 75 people who virtually mapped all of Wilmington’s downtown (some 500 businesses) onto the top geo-social networks – Google Places, Facebook Places, Foursquare, and Gowalla.
It doesn’t matter if you own a restaurant, are a retailer, publish a poetry magazine, or how great your product or service offering is – if your potential customers can’t find you, then how can you sell anything to them?
While I cannot provide you statistics on the exact revenues the businesses recorded from the local search efforts of #BeHere; I can tell you the results of the project:
- The hashtag #BeHere is still used to promote events in Wilmington’s downtown, creating a committed community of individuals connected by Social Media.
- Local business owners’ heightened awareness of the collaborative powers of Social Media led to the creation of the Social Media Club of Delaware.
- #BeHere has since evolved into a mobile app directory to help residents and visitors alike to connect with downtown businesses.
- The BID now acts as an agency setting up Social Media profiles for downtown businesses and connects those businesses with local marketing companies.
- The community has perceived the very real value of Social Media and embraced it. The result is economic growth, not for one business, but many.
Be Visible is the perfect transition from #BeHere. Utilizing the great tools that are available today – from SEO and local search, to Pinterest and Instagram and everything in between – we serve to help businesses grow using online tools, even if they don’t have the staff or time to do so themselves. (What more can you ask, they’re already running a successful business!) It’s a matter of visibility, of discoverability, of being there at the right time and the right place for the right customer. We help businesses occupy the online spaces their customers already inhabit – successfully connecting the two.
I have observed the ROI of Social Media in multiple spheres and various industries in just a few short years, and it can happen quickly. I’m certain; this is only the beginning – but the first step is entering the online conversation about your brand or business.
To learn more about project #BeHere, click here.
If you have questions about social media marketing for your business, please feel free to “Just Ask”!