Small business owners are expanding their use of social media, as they say it helps them click with potential clients. NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.
When business owner Manny Pena looks around the Astor Row Cafe, he sees his customers steeped in laptops and smartphones.
"Two, three, four people with their electronic devices and looking, and that’s their way of contacting the world," Pena says.
It got an idea percolating in his brain: use those same devices to contact them. For that, he turns to social media to build a dialogue and let clients feel like they are part of his coffee clutch.
"Javier is here today. He checks in and he tweets. We have a DJ who comes in, and she already started hitting people, 'I'm coming to Astor Row,'" Pena says. "So it's an effective way of communicating."
Pena recently shared his social media savvy with a sold-out crowd of small business owners at an event called Facebook Fit. Attendees learned how to use some of the online tools available to them, many of them free.
Tavy Ronen of The Yarn Company says without Facebook, she would never have been able to stitch together an international customer base for her independent shop.
"Small businesses were constrained to using flyers or small print ads, whereas larger businesses could reach a larger audience," Ronen says. "Facebook has opened up the opportunity for almost nothing, and often for free, to reach an audience anywhere in the world and in real time."
Of course, buying ads on Facebook comes at a price.
"You pay either by the number of impressions or the number of clicks," says Dan Levy, director of small business at Facebook.
However, what you don't pay extra for is targeting, a feature that Pena really likes.
"You could be like, 'Oh, I'm going to set up a campaign,' and for people within my zip code, people would never have been in here, but who have interests in coffee, lattes, cappuccinos, or mocaccinos," he says.
Not sure what you can post that will click with your customers? Facebook executives say the key to successfully using social media is to just be yourself.
"If you know how to use Facebook as a person, you can use Facebook as a business," Levy says. "The same types of content that you want to see in your news feed, whether it's from the friends or businesses or the brands or teams that you care about, are the things that your customers probably want to see."