By Yaniera Rodriguez
While small businesses have been struggling to keep open because of COVID-19, the younger generation has turned to social media to help their personal business thrive. Stephanie Meza, a student at ELAC, did just that.
Meza was laid off in March from her job. She invested $200 in a stencil maker and began a business of custom made decorative tumbler cups. She primarily uses instagram to promote her work.
Meza began printing out popular characters, mostly Disney, and putting them on tumbler cups. Using her Instagram handle, she was able to gain a small but respectable following. Social media has been an essential tool in creating and developing her brand.
“Different consumers can see what I sell. I am not limited to a space.” Meza said. Social media has been a strong platform for creatives who market themselves.
With over 800 million users on Instagram. Many small businesses cannot afford ad space. Despite ad space being more affordable than television, it is still a cost. With a dedicated Instagram strategy, a user can more easily find success.
Instagram business profiles are free. Their website states that most viewed stories are from businesses. 60 percent of people discover new products through Instagram. They also offer tools available when a business creates a page. Buying from Instagram is easy. But some vendors link their Etsy Shops or Big Cartel sites on their profiles.
Meza likes to promote a high level of professionalism through her quality of work. She believes that her Instagram page needs to have a certain aesthetic. This helps her brand with potential future customers. Having properly edited pictures with catchy captions gets her likes and shares.
Increasing her visibility through hashtags, giveaways, and shares from users has allowed Zoee’s Designs to gain more followers and clinets. These are new tools crucial for marketing. Thus far, while plenty of obstacles in her business have arisen, Meza has not been the only one to have begun a business of products crafted or made at home. Meza says, There are others selling similar products. Consumers are wary of buying things made from home.
She does not let this discourage her and she continues to promote her business, because “people like to buy from small businesses. They appreciate your work,” according to Meza.
Social media live streams are also used to sell products. It helps connect with consumers on a personal level. Users can promote themselves in a way that has not primarily been the traditional way. The power of mobility is essential to a student-run business that multitasks activities. The flexibility allows Meza to run her business from anywhere, limiting her contact with others.
As much as Instagram has been helpful, a seller should be aware of how harmful it can be. Screenshots of bad comments are easily shared and buying products can be risky. Consumers tend to rely on reviews and comments posted to buy products. Being able to communicate directly with customers is helpful in keeping clients satisfied.
Meza hopes to further expand her brand and include different products. As her business platform grows new features are constantly being added. Being relevant and current with products is very important.With the holidays here, this is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to sell more products and capture a good amount of profit.