Social media has helped sustain small businesses during the pandemic: Ashley Rector

Social media has helped sustain small businesses during the pandemic: Ashley Rector

Guest columnist Ashley Rector is the founder of Laura Alexandria Marketing and the newly opened Plum Hill Creative Foundation. Studio in Lakewood.

As a small business owner, reaching your ideal customer in a world filled with 6-foot social distancing restrictions and mandatory concealment has been a challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There was no warm smile on a friendly face or a solid understanding of a handshake. Many of us have had to find new ways to communicate and stay in touch with our customers in a real way.

Social media was almost the only way to do this – and I’d like to know: This is the number one tip I tell my clients seeking marketing help.

After just three years running my social media marketing business, I’ve seen a lot of growth with my clients. Business owners from all over the world have created new ways to showcase their products and stand up for their customers.

From comic bookstore owners who share their favorite vintage comics weekly to artists who host drawing classes for young adults, it has been surprising to see brands thrive when thrown into the most unlikely of circumstances.

By far, the biggest shift I’ve seen over the past few years has been the adoption of social media. This pivot can be daunting, as it is a difficult learning curve for some institutions. But once you show the ropes, it’s easy to understand why it’s so important to compete in the cool wild west of organic and paid social media.

I’ve gone through this transition myself. I’ve gone from a freelance social media manager who does everything myself to a team of 12 in less than three years.

The secret sauce on how to publish – but to publish in a way that engages your audience – is something everyone wants to have. When I talk to potential businesses to see if they’re a good fit for my small social media agency, one thing always holds true: consumers look up to you on social media before they even think about your website.

The shift in trust and credibility from the web to social networks is astounding.

The need for fresh and engaging content has grown exponentially, leading me to open Plum Hill Creative Studio in Lakewood, a boutique studio focused on leasing space for content creation and meetings while bringing the local creative and business community together.

It’s no secret that along with the usefulness of social media may come the bad. As a result, there are always ongoing discussions about regulation on social channels, which can have an enormous impact on the way we interact with social media altogether.

As an Ohio resident, it was important to me to meet with Senator Sherrod Brown’s office as part of the Meta Boost Gather in Washington, DC. A group of small businesses met with Brown employees to talk about issues that are important to us.

We sat down at a long table, and shared the massive impact that social media has had on our ability to not only run our business, but thrive. Story after story had one core message: These companies would not have survived the pandemic without social media.

These companies have jumped to dive into social media and really take advantage of it to their advantage, and their success stories allow a company like mine to grow and help other businesses.

Social media is important to small business owners in Ohio, and it is important to use your voice to speak. I could directly see the ripple effect on the table. And I hope the senator’s office has seen this lasting effect as well.

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