Johnson City, TN: The Power of Gen Y and Social networking

Johnson City Tennessee is truly a beautiful place. I drove from Asheville, NC through winding mountain roads with just a touch of Fall in the air. At the breakfast seminar this morning I was fortunate to be able to speak with Gary Mabrey, President/CEO of the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce. Gary told me that this area was relatively buffered from the extreme economic highs and lows of the rest of the country. As many of us listen to news of a historically volatile market, this seems like an especially nice place to be.

Gary also conveyed to me that one challenge for many businesses in Johnson City was the ability to attract, retain and motivate young people into local businesses.

Social networking through Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Plaxo are both mainstream and perfect for the personal communications many small businesses employ “offline”. Younger employees are both comfortable and skilled at using these services. This, therefore, is great way to get your Gen-Y employees engaged and productive.

A great example is a follow-up note I received from Betsy S.:

We have several rental properties in Johnson City, 2 of which we are striving to reach out to ETSU students as renters. Although we advertise on the ETSU off campus web site, we have found success through craig list on our first home. We are currently purchasing our 2nd new rental home which is adjacent to ETSU property. We would like to reach out to incoming Students (preferably medical students or pharmacy students) who might be interested in renting the house with 2 other students. We felt that using their communication tools might link us more effeciently. This brings to question Facebook. How could we use this tool as an advertisment, rather than just a blog or friends connection?

The following are some ideas in using Facebook just for this goal:

  • Add prior good renters as “friends” to your facebook page. You can also reach out to them to let them know of apartment availability in case they have friends or family that are interested.
  • In the Facebook Marketplace you can post housing and look for people interested in housing my location. There are currently posts for ETSU.
  • Try Facebook Ads which allow you to target by location, age, gender and interests:
  • Use Facebook Groups. There are also several ETSU groups in Facebook right now. You could search through those and see which profile fits the types of students you wish to attract as renters. you could then join the group and post messages on the wall about available apartments.
  • Read this overview article on the marketing with Facebook.

Any advice on using Facebook for your small business?

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