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| SMALL BUSINESS | ENTREPRENEUR

Social Media

Opens Doors for Young Entrepreneurs

In a new era, social media provides marketing benefits for small businesses and young online retailers. By Raquel Harrah

M

O ST COLLEGE STUDENTS can’t add a thriv-

ing retail business to their résumé, but Courtney Nolz, a junior at South Dakota University, can call herself a business owner at 20-years-old. What began as an idea at 16 became reality thanks to her determination and the accessibility of social media. Nolz maintains her business, Cowgirl Crush, through Facebook, where consumers can view and buy products online. Items are both sold and marketed through numerous social media outlets. “When I first founded the business I was only 16, so I didn’t have the funding for any other kind of marketing strategy,” said Nolz. Cowgirl Crush, run almost entirely through social media, brings in nearly 3,000 “likes” on Facebook, more than many large businesses and corporations. “Social media is super successful right now because of the adoption rate of technology amongst the world,” said co-founder of Alpha Brand Media and social media consultant Brent Csutoras. “More people have smartphones and computers in the home, and that has really changed the landscape of the web dramatically over the last two years.” The company began with handmade stone, crystal, and cross jewelry and has expanded to include Same Spirit and Ali Dee designs, along with the introduction of a clothing line in 2011. According to Nolz, this addition doubled social media interaction through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Understanding the Social Media Audience

Nolz has welcomed the social aspect of social media— she communicates with her consumers, updating them on new products, asking them about their weekend, and what they would like to see next from Cowgirl Crush. According to Csutoras, this type of interaction is es-

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PROFILES IN DIVERSITY JOURNAL

November/December 2012

sential to successful marketing. “Social media gives you an opportunity to connect in a very personal and meaningful way with your customers. This allows you to respond quickly to customer support issues, share and praise compliments about your company, and provide offers to people who are going out of their way to show your company support,” said Csutoras. As social media is relatively new, there has been some debate about whether success can be achieved through social media marketing. Social media helped Nolz ease into the notoriously difficult jewelry business. “Any social media site can be effective for marketing if you take the time to understand what type of content performs well, who the audience is, and get creative about how you can provide your content or product in a way they would appreciate it and accept it,” said Csutoras. New statistics from Allstate and National Journal show that 59 percent of social media users say a company’s social media activities make the company appear “accessible


Diversity Journal - Nov/Dec 2012