The perfect media tactics to boost business and encourage OU students to shop local

Disclaimer: I am not a professional. All comments come from my personal experiences and observations, and this blog is purely for academic purposes.

Need fresh ideas for reaching a broader audience? Are you interested in the digital strategies and media tactics that could help drive business and encourage Ohio University students to take a stop in your store? Here’s a look at the social media techniques used by several clothing boutiques in Athens. The best part is these strategies can also be applied to a variety of businesses including restaurants,dining, bookstores and specialization stores such as gift shops, craft stores and costume shops.

When thinking of the stores on and surrounding Court Street, there’s a variety of customers and owners. Many would believe each store takes a completely different approach to reach their target audience. Surprisingly, this is far fetched.

After extensive research and vast increments of my time being used to creep through the shops social media, I was surprised to find most of the strategies used by the local owners were extremely similar. The strategies that many stores use often seem to be working well, and unfortunately the mistakes and painful errors were frequently used across the board. Let’s take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly digital promotion approaches used by many local Athens shops.

Artifacts Gallery

Artifacts Gallery is a local clothing shop located at 2 W. State Street., Athens, OH. This store uses Instagram and Facebook as their strongest social media pages. Some techniques used on the Instagram page included using a white background when taking photos of the apparel. Using a white background, or sticking with a common theme, is useful because people enjoy images that are pleasant to the eye.

Facebook is also used by keeping active with posts that do not only relate to their store and products. Using a personalized approach and occasional videos help keep interest in followers, causing them to be more engaged when looking at a media post.

Unfortunately, Artifacts Gallery could use some work on their Twitter page. Twitter is accessible and sharable, but that is not how it is used. Instead, the tweets only link to Instagram posts, and their customer interaction to assist with product feedback or other related questions. Also, the Instagram could afford to involve a few models when marketing their t-shirts and other apparel. Having a real person involved in media posts allows customers, and especially college students, to be more engaged.

The only issue that struck me hard when viewing Artifacts Gallery’s social media pages was the excessive hashtagging. Yes, I understand many people were told to use hashtags to draw in more likes and assist in SEO, but sometimes less is more. My best advice is to use hashtags appropriately and understand that quality really can mean more than quantity.

Bluetique

This trendy local shop focuses on targeting the typical college girl who wishes she was in walking distance to a mall. Bluetique is located 19 W. State Street., Athens, OH. Bluetique does an excellent job promoting their store through a strong social media presence. Their social media is a triple-threat, and maybe more. Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are all used constantly and appropriately to reach a variety of customers in the Athens area. Bluetique is also one of the few local shops that has started using Pinterest, which is very smart since many Ohio University women have joined on the Pinterest bandwagon when collaborating ideas.

There’s no doubt that Bluetique thought about the social media tactics they wanted to use. Overall, their pages are professional and engaging. Gabby Summers, a Bluetique employee, said students and workers are often used to pose in their clothes and accessories because it helps make the posts more personal and attracts a larger audience. All Instagram posts are similar because they use a theme and specific lighting location in the store. The owner has also invested in a wallpaper like background that looks like a wooden floor to assist in making the products stand out and keep a professional theme.

New floral two piece! We love our new arrivals! #bluetiqueathens #shopbluetique #newarrivals

A post shared by Bluetique Athens (@bluetiqueathens) on

Instagram and Twitter are also used to promote sales and positions for hire. The Bluetique Facebook page is a strong presence because they share events and other posts on their page to engage with customers. More frequent tweets would help them reach a wider audience. Videos and a cover photo with girls from Ohio University in their clothing gives the site a more personal approach, which is excellent when trying to find new customers and grow as a shop in a college town.

Although they use similar content among all platforms, especially  by reusing Instagram photos, the Bluetique social media techniques are definitely appropriate for most local business. Their techniques drive business and gain OU students as loyal customers.

Figleaf Boutique

Figleaf Boutique is a company that can be found in several college orientated towns, such as Kent, Columbus and Athens. The Athens location can be found at 57 N. Court Street., Athens, OH. Due to the larger presence this boutique has in other cities, their social media techniques are also updated and frequently used to reach OU students.

Figleaf is smart by using Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter in creative ways. All their sites maintain a professional setting, and the links on Instagram photos, Pinterest pins, tweets and Facebook posts are directly to their official website. This is extremely important because it increases availability and sales. Many college students, and specifically OU students, don’t like feeling rushed if they can’t make it to the local shops during their daily hours. Having a website that is promoted daily through social media is an excellent technique which could potentially benefit all local shops.

It’s also apparent that Figleaf knows and understands their target audience which is the trendy college girl. They understand how to reach girls needing dresses and accessories for date parties and other social events through all medias. The also reach the parents of many OU girls whose parents are on the lookout for trends and sales on Facebook. Their Facebook content is slightly altered to engage a different group, which is smart since their Facebook audience has relations with their target audience.

The best advice for Figleaf Boutique is to be more interactive on Twitter with customers and keep the variety between their different media sites because it does make a huge difference.

Honey

This lingerie store is located at 13 W. Union Street, Athens, OH. Truthfully visiting the store is the best way to have any idea about their apparel and products. Honey lacks much of any social media presence. They have very few followers across the board, and they have few posts.

Honey’s Instagram has not posted since December, which is poor for almost any company in 2017. This is extremely disappointing since they are targeting OU students, who more often than not use Instagram daily. In fact, according to a Pew Research Center study, 90 percent of American adults aged 18 to 29 use social media. As a local shop targeting this specific group, it’s best they amp up their social media presence and begin to focus on the successful tactics available to boost business.

However, the one good thing Honey does with their social media is their use of Facebook. There are several more posts and more interaction on their Facebook page, and they even post links and articles to other sources. Outside sourcing to relatable content is a fantastic marketing tactic that many small, local businesses are afraid to test. Although this is very different than other trends among local shops in Athens, this out of ordinary social media technique would be worth a shot for other stores. Many stores and websites appreciate interaction from one another, and promoting a different store potentially brings new customers if the favor is returned.

The Other Place

The Other Place is another trendy store focusing on women’s clothing, accessories and gift items. This boutique can be found at 43 S. Court Street, Athens, OH. This college town shop engages with OU students on a variety of platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The owner has recently teamed up with the Scripps’ Impressions team, which has developed a few new techniques to boost business and student interaction among social media.

The Other Place is beginning to use real OU students to model their apparel in hopes to promote a real life experience and receive more engagement from friends and family members of the girls featured in the photos and posts. Another exciting social media tactic is the startup of a WordPress site to allow blogs about trends and styles that can be created from the apparel and accessories in the store.

Show off those shoulders with one of our super cute rompers! #rompers #shoulders

A post shared by The Other Place Athens (@theotherplaceathens) on

Other social media ideas that are common and effective include using Twitter constantly and posting promotional sales and hirings on their sites. When linking, it could be more effective to link to a store site, but instead they link back to their Facebook. This technique could be useful in reaching a different group of OU students, but there’s limited interaction on the Facebook page. Limited feedback and limited posting on both Facebook and Twitter may be the cause for the lack of followers, or vice versa.

10 West Clothing Co.

The new local shop, 10 West Clothing Co. is located at 10 W. Union Street., Athens, OH, and the store is known for selling new and nearly new name brand clothes. Their store specializes in making trendy clothes affordable for the college students in Athens.

As any new store in the area would do, they post quite often in order to gain followers, likes and attention in general. They use Instagram as their best social media platform by posting photos of their clothes, information about sales and funny memes in order to give it a personal feel. Unfortunately, their photography skills could still use some assistance to stand out and be more appealing to customers.

Another bad habit constantly used on their social media pages includes linking directly to Instagram only. Their interaction with customers and the shop’s creativity spreading content is lacking. A few alterations and more variety on all platforms would make a huge difference and advance 10 W. Clothing Co.’s business and appeal to OU students.

In conclusion, local businesses shouldn’t be afraid to try new things, such as promotional events or blogs. Using OU students for modeling clothes, or holding events, engages other students, friends and family increasing publicity and social media awareness. Ohio University faculty could also be a wise partner for events and social media promotion because they carry respect and people have a tendency to shop at local places if they have heard good reviews from people they personally know.

Spreading content creatively and using all media platforms allows local business to reach their max audience and customers. Sometimes, different platforms require, or strive, from a different form of media. Balancing videos, photos and text increasing attention for OU students interested in the local stores because millennials expect businesses to be up-to-date and use social media in a multitude of ways. Also, owners should not be afraid to dip their feet in and try using more than Facebook. Learning how to tweet and pin information is very important to a successful media platform because Twitter and Pinterest are the most shareable content sites.

Finally, keeping a professional look to all platforms makes a huge difference. Photography skills matter. Good lighting, backgrounds, using models instead of mannequins and keeping a constant theme makes a huge difference. Frequent posts are most effective when they are put together and consistent. Keeping digital media in correlation with college students’ expectations allows businesses to increase sales and encourages OU students to shop at the local stores around Athens.

Donkey Coffee: a refreshing alternative to corporate cafés

For seasoned Athenians, Donkey Coffee probably isn’t a major revelation. For many of us, the locally owned café, tucked just off of Court St., is just as prominent as the ever ubiquitous Starbucks, perhaps even more so, and for good reason.

While the difference in coffee quality is negligible for most anyone who doesn’t consider themselves a connoisseur, the atmosphere most certainly is not.

Sure, the baristas are just as young and hipster-esque as the ones in your favorite national coffee franchise but with them, you get a sense of authenticity that is immediately apparent. At Donkey you never feel as though the people behind the counter were chosen to fulfill some sort of preordained corporate diversity mandate. As the kilt-laden latte-ist elegantly prepares your coffee with a four-inch fixed blade sheathed at his waist, you get the feeling that the coffee shop you’ve found yourself in is in fact the antithesis of corporate coffee. You get the impression that even while they have a featured flavored concoction every month, a pumpkin spiced latte is as welcome in here as the bubonic plague.

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The atmosphere of the sitting room is equally foreign to those of us who have grown accustomed to the predictable minimalism of big-name chains. Instead of carefully designed matching seats and stone-tiled fireplaces, there is a mismatched melange of tables and chairs seemingly scavenged from the attics of a hundred grandparents. There are old boardgames on every shelf, murals of 1960’s music legends on the walls, and a dim sort of lighting that makes one feel oddly philosophical. It’s the kind of place where you could feel welcome to sit for many hours studying for a big exam or else locked in spirited political debate without fear of having overstayed your welcome.

The fun doesn’t stop at coffee and good atmosphere, though. Donkey has that beautiful sense of “why not?” that one can only ever seem to find at a local joint. Twice a week, for instance, they host an open stage, one a slam poetry night in which willing wordsmiths gather to bare their beatnik souls and snap each other their praises; the other an open mic for amateur and expert musicians alike to spend some time practicing in front of a supportive audience. They also host a wide variety of concerts and performance art shows, a full list of which can be found on their site. I challenge you to find any of these things at your local Starbucks.

Donkey’s sense of its customers’ needs is never more clear, though than during exam week. During finals, Donkey is open 24 hours a day so that students can come and get their caffeine fix even into the wee hours of the night to fuel their marathon study sessions.

In short, Donkey is a fantastic coffee shop, but what sets it apart from all the rest is everything else that it is. So next time you’re thinking of stopping in at Front Room for your daily dose of java, consider walking a bit further down the road for an experience that’s a little bit different.

How to have fun when you’re under 21

Curated by Elizabeth Backo and Kate Fickell

Although Ohio University has been dubbed a No. 1 party school, there is still much to do before turning 21. Athens is filled with a variety of music and art groups along with fitness centers and beautiful bikeways. Although fest season and HallOUween may seem like the ultimate party at OU, seeing a movie at the Athena Cinema or attending a football game at Peden stadium can be just as much of a buzz.

Here’s a guide for how to have fun when you’re under 21:

Performing Arts:

1. Instrumental music, located in Memorial Auditorium and the Glidden Hall (which is at the top and bottom of Jeff Hill)

Free music is abundant on campus. The School of Music hosts different events throughout the year including OctubaFest, an event dedicated to tuba playing, and the annual Jazz Festival. In addition, there are several organizations for music majors and non-majors to participate in, including symphonies and orchestras. Events and information can be found on the School of Music’s website

2. Athena, located near The Chop Shop and The Shack on Court Street

The Athena Cinema is placed among the oldest movie theaters in the nation. It has three screens and an art deco-style interior. The theater also offers popcorn and concessions. The films include documentary, independent, classics, foreign and local. Every year, the Athena Cinema hosts multiple events including Ohio University student screenings, environmental panels and the Athens International Film + Video Festival. Follow them on Instagram and Twitter to keep up with what’s happening.

3.Improv/Comedy, located at Front Room, Donkey Coffee and Baker Theatre

Black Sheep Improv, an improvisational group on campus, takes over Front Room on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. and on Thursdays in Baker Theatre at 9 p.m. The Improv troupe spends its time making jokes and trying to get the audience to crack a few smiles. Comedy groups can also be found around campus and uptown, such as the Blue Pencil Comedy stand-up group that frequently performs at Donkey Coffee and Espresso. “I think anyway of making new friends is something I would be interested in haha! I know no one.” Bethel Park High School in Pittsburgh, PA.

4. Art Barn, located down the road behind the Summit Apartments at Coates Run

The Dairy Barn Arts Center promotes artists and provides the community access to fine arts and crafts from outside the region. The program calendar that you can check out here includes international juried exhibitions, festivals, touring exhibits, programs of regional interest, live performances and activities for all ages. They have volunteer work and Kroger community awards.

5. Choirs, performing in Memorial Auditorium on College Green

The Choral Union is a large, mixed chorus of students, faculty and townspeople. The ensemble unites annually with the Ohio University Symphony to perform outstanding major choral works. Click here to check out their page and other singing and instrumental groups. “I hope to find a job and join the choir. I don’t need alcohol or partying to have fun. Yeah, those can be fun to do but also remembering things sober are much better than not remembering.” Harrison Central High School in Cadiz, OH.

Fitness:

1. Bike Path, behind South Green

When the weather is warm and sunny, the bike path located behind South Green is a go-to place for bikers, runners, skaters and walkers. The path is relatively flat with a few twists and turns. Anyone can enjoy a view of the Hocking River or witness the blooming Japanese Cherry Blossoms in the spring. It also can be used to take a trip to Wal-Mart.

2. Ping, behind Clippinger near South Green and the golf course

The Ping Center is 168,000 square feet spanning three floors with a 36 foot, double-sided climbing wall, five basketball/volleyball courts, two multipurpose gymnasiums, a four-lane indoor running track, seven racquetball courts and two fitness areas. Ping Center also provides free weights, aerobics, fitness, combative sports, dance, and meeting rooms. Follow Ping on Twitter to keep up! “I just want to take in as much as possible and find what interests me. I want to get the experience that comes with finally moving out of your parents’ house and be on your own. I love spending time in the gym.” Monroe Central High School in Woodsfield, OH.

3. Sport Fields, multiple locations described below

Peden stadium, located near the Convocation Center, has a seating capacity of 24,000 and hosts Bobcat football. Students attend football games in the fall to cheer on the Bobcats as well as collect free gear and food. The Marching 110 also plays a halftime performance that leaves the audience bouncing with excitement. The Intramural Fields are located between East Green and the Hocking River and offer individual, dual and team sports for men, women and coed teams in a variety of seasonal league and tournament formats. “I’m committed to the women’s soccer team so for fun I plan on hanging out with my future teammates.” Buckeye Valley High School in Delaware, OH.

4. Bird Arena, located near the bottom of Baker Center

Bird Arena is another outlet for people who would rather slide then run. The indoor arena provides a 190-by-85 foot surface for skaters of all ages. Bird Arena has open skate hours which can be found online and might change for the 2016-17 academic year. Skate rental fees are $3.50. Additionally, the arena offers different programs such as synchronized skating, club hockey and even beginner classes that can be taken for academic credit. You can find this icy rink at the bottom of Baker Center.

Media:

1. The Post, room 325 in Baker Center

The Post is one of several media outlets on campus. After more than 100 years of publishing, The Post is becoming a weekly tabloid with a daily digital product. The organization covers a range of topics from blog posts about pet Instagrams to political controversy on campus. The Post has several staffs that work daily to produce its product, which includes culture, sports, news, copy editing, digital, social media, design, multimedia and photography.

2. Backdrop, office located in Baker Center in room 309 or can be contacted here

Backdrop is a magazine on campus that publishes four times throughout the academic year. The magazine focuses on long-form content ranging from the history of fashion at OU to an in depth look into police officers’ K-9 sidekicks. “I also got into OSU but I chose OU over it. I am really looking forward to being involved with certain magazines on campus, especially the one dedicated to music because although I don’t play an instrument, I love all genres of music and talking about them.” Hilliard Davidson High School in Hilliard, OH.

3. The Athens News, located between Red Brick and Cats Eye on Court Street

Known for its in-depth local news reporting, The Athens News features news, entertainment and an advertising section. With Ohio University making up an important segment of the Athens County population, The Athens News newspaper is able to effectively reach both the university and community markets, according to its website. The publication has written about everything from Number Fest to the construction of uptown bars.

Donut Worry go to McHappy’s

I can’t lie, I love my Tim Hortons too… Stumbling upon Athens, Ohio your everyday Tim Hortons latte and donut begins to compete a little more with the hidden gems found throughout the bricks of Athens. McHappy’s Bake Shoppe a donut shop that speaks for itself “smiles by the dozen.” It’s actually a funny story of how I stumbled upon this hidden sweet treat gem. Training for the Athens half marathon, I began to run a little more outside the bricks and over the bridge, around mile five I was mind blown by the things that existed just over this bridge. Over this bridge and pass the hocking McHappy’s was almost like grandmas house, a little brick building that sums up the simplicity of Athens, Ohio. Forty years of baking fresh donuts and pastries McHappy’s expanded it’s brand to five locations but the Athens store just felt like home. That feeling of sitting in your kitchen and grandma just baked so many cookies, the smell fills the air and you just can’t pick one. Thank goodness it’s only 9.50 for a dozen because getting one would almost be a crime.

McHappy's Bake Shoppe
Gloomy days, sweeter donuts. Being snowed in with a maple glazed donut makes the snow fall sweeter.

Do you ever have that feeling where nothing is sweet enough? When one “timbit” doesn’t cut it, well McHappy’s Bake Shoppe hits the spot. The wire racks filled with mouth watering donuts glazed to perfection, some jelly filled others maple filled, it wasn’t just a donut it was a taste of satisfaction. One dozen later and I was smiling, ear to ear my sweet tooth caved. The taste of the maple cream filled donut was something you just can’t find at your commercial coffee shop. If you aren’t craving the sweet glazed donut, don’t worry they have fresh made muffins, strong brewed coffee and a drive through for these wintery months. Yes, my mouth is watering thinking about the sweet satisfaction that filled the air of McHappy’s…”donut worry” i’ll be back for more. All in all Athens is pretty “sweet” it gives you this desire to be healthy, to live a fit life but some times that motivation from your half-marathon training leads you to sweetest of them all; a little brick bakery, called McHappy’s.

Why I Wondered About Wine

The world is filled with wonderful tastes and smells. It was in my own personal interest to discover them.

It’s hard to have that one special place that you always want to go to when you end up falling in love with so many. That exact thing happened when I started my project on local wineries. As a craft beer lover, I wanted to expand my palate and learn to enjoy wine just as much (which will probably never happen).

A Wine Sunset
Estate Grown Chardonnay waits in a glass as the sunset peeks through at Shade Winery in Shade, Ohio.

There is an obvious difference in the atmosphere at a winery compared to a bar; that’s what makes you fall in love. At a winery, you feel relaxed, safe, sophisticated or maybe you just feel old. The bar scene is slowly starting to lose its touch on me because of the shoulder to shoulder crowds and underage students who can’t handle themselves. With so many bars in Athens, I really wanted to shed light on the softer drinking scene at wineries.

I’m not saying that wineries can’t be super exciting because believe me, when my friends and I go out, we know how to have a good time. I just wanted to understand the behind the scenes production of how hard it is to make your own wine or to operate a business for that matter.

During my project, I visited Wolftree Winery, West End Ciderhouse, Shade Winery, Pleasant Hill Vineyards, Do It Yourself Shop, and Athens Uncorked (which is the first wine bar in Athens). Everyone was very inviting and they were happy to show me how the process worked. I was able to see the barrels the wines age in, all the materials and equipment they need, how they pour the wine into bottles, different corking methods, personal labels, their vineyards or where they buy their grapes from, the science behind it, production, marketing, and of course FREE samples!

I didn’t just enjoy these locations, I enjoyed the people and the community behind it. That is why it is hard for me to pick my favorite spot when it comes to drinking wine. There is no better way to spend an evening than to have a delicious glass of wine, a nice spot to relax, and close friends enjoying it with you (besides maybe having some craft beer).

Top 5 Sunday spots on Court Street

  1. Chipotle Mexican Grill, open at 11 a.m. While the popular restaurant chain is prone to long lines, you’re guaranteed a satisfying meal with a side of guilt-ridden eavesdropping.
  2. Whit’s Frozen Custard, open at 8 a.m. Whit’s is perfect for those wanting to get their work done or catch up on a current book, and the food draws in a good crowd as well.
  3. Donkey Coffee & Espresso, open at 8 a.m. Donkey is a great combination of a social hangout and study spot. Sunday morning slackers who live west of Court Street often pass through here on their way home.
  4. Court Street Diner, open at 7 a.m. It’s the best breakfast in Athens. Seriously. Make sure you come here with an appetite.
  5. The Pigskin Bar and Grill, open at 11 a.m. Misplaced belongings from the night before may be lying around here, and it’s one of the few bars in Athens open on Sunday mornings. While searching, order a Bloody Mary. One of the best in town!