How local businesses adapt in the age of social media


Nov. 29, 2017

Carol Schneider of Slinger smiles as she shops with her friend, Kathy Bruch of Oshkosh,
on Tuesday afternoon at Faith and Giggles in Hartford.
John Ehlke/Daily News

The playing field for businesses has rarely been equal, with larger retailers traditionally dominating the advertising and revenue space.

The advent of the internet, however, has made it more even by allowing local businesses to leverage social media to increase revenues and their customer base, providing them with opportunities to challenge the traditional retail corporations on scale that was unthinkable about a decade ago.

“The multitude of social media platforms can be an incredible asset to businesses,” University of Wisconsin-Washington County professor Chris Yogerst said. “With Facebook touting its over one billion users across its platforms, it’s easy to see how social media is a great method of outreach.”

There are several businesses in the area that try to take advantage of the different platforms. Al Jung, who operates Dunn Bros. in West Bend, posts regularly to social media to promote his business.

“For us, we are on Facebook primarily, and then we are on Instagram,” he said. “On Facebook, we have a posting almost every day.”

Jung will vary the content however. On some days he will notify potential customers of deals they plan to offer while at other posts he will highlight various aspects of the area.

“Oftentimes I will do some community things,” he said. “Maybe there is something that is happening over the weekend. Sometimes I will highlight customers if they do something or if they are known for something in the community.”

It can also be a branding tool.

“Social media is a cost-effective way to not only reach out to your customers/followers/partners but is a useful way to get immediate feedback,” Yogerst said. “This allows the company to constantly research their followers, engage with them, and customize messages accordingly.”

Jason Nix and Wendy Smith operate Faith & Giggles, a gift shop in Hartford where they inspirational and religious items that customers can give as holiday or everyday gifts. They use social media to communicate regularly with their customers.

“I feel like it can express our personality so much better than anything because we can show our product, we can show what we are all about, particularly comic relief,” Wendy said. “We can show our humorous side, our compassionate side. It is so interactive. We are able to interact with people.”

There is also a drawback to social media because it creates an environment that magnifies mistakes.

“Part of the problem is the knee-jerk immediacy that all social media encourages,” Yogerst said. “If something posted on social media strikes the wrong nerve, some people cannot just scroll past. Instead, they need to create a hashtag-fueled movement to destroy the company or person responsible.”

To address this, businesses must be careful what they post and how they communicate with the public to ensure they are putting forward the best perception of themselves.