EL PASO — When Nona’s Pizza Bar opened last summer there was no grand opening celebration and no traditional ads were bought to promote the new restaurant.
The Sun City found out through the new “word of mouth” —Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The storefront was ready on Sunday evening and they opened the following day to a good crowd without missing a beat.
Once a picture of Nona’s famous LED “El Paso” sign was posted on social media, everyone wanted a piece.
If used correctly, social media can help build a small business in El Paso through these networks. A business can share posts, pictures, and videos of goods and services and then the ball starts rolling from person to person and the “likes” build up.
Building up the “likes” is social media entrepreneur, Junior Vasquez’ job.
With over 72,000 “likes” between the seven small businesses accounts on Facebook —including Nona’s Pizza Bar— under his belt, he believes that when dealing with small businesses, especially ones that have daily specials, social media is more effective than traditional advertising.
“Nowadays people are so ‘connected’ with their smart phones so the probability of an ad or even a post reaching you through Facebook is way more likely than you going to pick up a local newspaper and seeing the ad in there.”
Small businesses have small ad budgets. They do not have the luxury of digital billboards to post daily specials or celebrity endorsements. Creative posts are an effective and fun way for customers to interact, which in turn builds a brand that connects customers. Vasquez has noticed that El Paso promotes local dinning and shopping.
“Over the last two or three years you hear ‘keep it local’ everywhere,” Vasquez said. “A perfect example of this is the ‘It’s All Good EP campaign.’”
Once someone clicks on that campaign’s hashtag on Twitter, a variety of local businesses appear at the users’ fingertips. “Every El Paso business should take advantage of the hashtag’s significance to our city,” he said.
A strong following on any social network will keep the regular customers coming back, and encourage them to invite their friends to be new customers, Vasquez said.
It’s very important for the small businesses to respond to customers’ feedback whether it’d be positive or negative as they would in face-to-face interactions, he said.
“It’s all about engagement with customers. If it’s bad feedback then it gives the business the opportunity to fix the issue and grow. If it’s good then hats off to them!”
Vasquez urges local businesses to break old habits and get their message out online. They will be surprised at the successful response they get, he said.
“I think that El Paso businesses should take a chance on social media. The money that they’re putting into commercials and billboards has been effective for years, but they should buy a Facebook ad or two and see if it expands their customer base.”