An early morning breakfast and networking event drew dozens of Chicago-area business leaders to the Garden City Business Center last week to learn how to hone their social media techniques and to gather with leaders of the Lawndale Business Renaissance Association and the Business Executives Association.
The event, co-hosted by Roscoe, along with the LBRA and BEA, included a panel discussion on "Growing Your Business Through Social Media." The panel included representatives of a jeans manufacturing company, an upscale cupcake bakery and a junk removal service, who described the range of strategies they employ for connecting with prospective and current customers on social media, along with techniques for dealing with negative reviews.
Social Media, With Cupcakes
Kim Deason, general manager of More, a cupcake bakery whose customers include Williams-Sonoma and Dean & DeLuca, described Facebook campaigns in which people clicked to win a free cupcake.
Deason told the audience that the goal is to use social media in a way that makes an audience do more than just read your posts. See also: free cupcakes.
"Find a way to not just speak to them, but get them to talk back to you," said Deason. "Your niche is out there. Engage them and they'll bring their friends."
Robert McMillan, who founded Dearborn Denim & Apparel, a jeans manufacturer in the process of opening a second retail location, said the company posts something on social media every day and keeps a bank of content and photographs. McMillan also advised audience members to respond honestly to negative reviews.
The other panelists agreed. "If we messed up (an order for two cupcakes), I'm going to send you a dozen," said Deason, who acknowledged that nasty reviews are probably less of a problem in her line of work. "How angry can you be about a cupcake?" Audience members, who rapidly emptied a table of More cupcakes provided for the event, could not imagine a less likely scenario.
Hagen Kern, owner of Junk King Chicago, said social media was always part of his strategy for building his junk removal franchise. The company also uses targeted Google advertising to make sure that it comes up high in internet search results, Kern said.
Building a Stronger Business Community
The event was sponsored by both the BEA and the LBRA in keeping with the LBRA's mission of developing and supporting the area business community, which was left devastated in the wake of riots that followed the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968. The LBRA, which Executive Director Bernard Jennings said has grown to include more than 70 companies, was expanded recently to include the Little Village area and has assisted in efforts resulting in more than $8 million in economic impact since 2014.
Roscoe President Jim Buik, a past chairman and founding member of the LBRA, said the event, which included a BEA tradition of members thanking other members for recent acts of support, was an example of the way in which businesses can grow in the process of helping to nurture other businesses.