Social Media On Main Street, Skippack, PA
Helping Local Businesses Discover Social Media
When I appointed myself the Skippack Blogger, I sought to combine the enthusiasm of a civic booster with the sensibilities of a poet, describing in elegant words the quaint surface of my beloved small town; our festive events, shops and restaurants, musical evenings and such.
But I cannot fool you dear reader; there is another story here, a story of economic struggle. While some Skippack establishments prosper, others struggle and eventually give up. The struggle and surrender is told by empty shops and “For Rent” signs which pop up along Skippack Pike.
Skippack’s quaint charm cannot always provide a shield against the forces of economic, technological and social change. Occasionally, even charming, historic places must be pushed into the future, as friends and family members sometimes must be pushed toward the next phase of their life. One only hopes that the hands that do the pushing will be gentle and loving.
For my friend Brad DeForest, pushing comes in the form of gentle tapping of fingers on the touch screen of an iPad. Brad is the Skippack Web Guy, a web designer and social media consultant with deep roots in Skippack.
Brad moved here about twenty years ago, and began his career as an architect, designing the Skippack Township Building, and other structures in the area. A small project of great symbolic value: Brad designed the footpath that runs alongside the road under the covered bridge that leads into Skippack.
In the past five years, Brad switched the focus of his work to web design and social media, building a bridge between mom-and-pop shop owners and the digital revolution.
“Most local shop owners don’t understand social media and how it can help Skippack in this tough economy,” says Brad.
Two Way Traffic: A New Way to Relate to Customers
Sharing a delicious Pizza Margherita at the Hotel Fiesole, Brad explains: “Print ads and email are the advertising and marketing staples for local shop owners. They need to expand.”
Brad holds up his Android smartphone and waves it in front of me. “Young people today are getting their news and information on their cell phones. If your customer spends the day looking at his or her cell phone, the question for the Skippack shop owner becomes, ‘how do I get on that cell phone?’”
The challenge for shop owners, accustomed to traditional approaches to advertising and marketing, is not only technical; it requires learning a new way of relating to customers. Skippack store owners are used to broadcasting a simple, one-way message (“we are having a sale”). Social media is about building a bridge that continually encourages two-way traffic.
Using Facebook, Brad explains, store owners can get customers to open the door to their social world, opening a roadway to connect with friends who share interests, and continually increasing their traffic stream. But store owners must first learn to use Facebook effectively, both in terms of accessing the site’s business tools and crafting the right messages for customers.
One of Brad’s clients is Art Berger, co-owner with his wife Jane of the Wooden Duck, a gift and women’s clothing store in Skippack. Brad designed several Facebook ad campaigns for the Wooden Duck, a powerful way to reach people, to run alongside an existing email and local newspaper marketing campaign.
Finding a Place in the Digital World
Brad shows me a picture on his smartphone of Art holding a former employee’s baby from the Wooden Duck Facebook page, which has grown from 50 to close to 2,000 fans, since Brad and Art started working together. This is a more intimate social media world than the powerhouse corporate social media campaigns that can attract millions of followers. If and when Skippack jumps with both feet into the digital age, my beloved town will retain its flavor and identity.
Brad is also a huge help on the I love Skippack blog, helping me as a writer find my place in the brave new digital world, turning projects into opportunities to learn and grow. Thanks to Brad, the I Love Skippack Facebook page now has close to 3,500 fans.
Allow me to connect you to the Skippack Web Guy:
- “Like” Brad on Facebook @ facebook.com/deforest.web.design
- Add Brad on LinkedIn @ linkedin.com/in/braddeforest
- Follow Brad on Twitter @braddeforest