A friend of mine, Virginia Johnson, has created a rather interesting small business in Cambridge/Boston, a “stitch lounge” called Gather Here.  (www.gatherhereonline.com

Gather Here Stitch Lounge is a “fabric, yarn, and fibers store offering classes, an inspirational work space, and knowledgeable instructors. We aim to provide a creative, fun, inspiring environment for the maker in everyone.

We are Cambridge’s first stitch lounge with machines, supplies, tables and most importantly, space, for the maker to create.

Not only do I love the idea behind the business, being a creative myself, but their social media efforts are just as cool as the owners, and that is what I want to highlight.

Social media is essential for the small business owner.  Its low cost, and ease of use, make it a perfect marketing tool to have in your arsenal.  The trick is to do it all right.  Gather Here sews everything together just perfectly.  

They have a Facebook page, where they share photos and stories, answer questions from customers, and even have an integrated Etsy store to sell some of their creations.  Brilliant!

Their Twitter stream (http://twitter.com/gather_here) is used to promote events at the store, but mainly serves as a stream of personal updates from the owner, giving us an insight into her personal adventures.  This really gives their fans and followers a personal connection to the store and the brand.  I think that it is a great way to deepen relationships and keep people connected to the store.
The “GatherMakeRepeat” Blog serves as a platform to talk about the store, upcoming events, world events, etc.  Again, giving their audience more insight into the company and the people behind it.  Some “gurus” are saying that blogs are dead.  I must disagree.  I think every small business should have some sort of blog to share ideas and information with their fan base.  They are so simple to use and easy to update that they should be a no-brainer!
I am going to leave you with a few ideas that I sent their way, mainly to get you thinking about ways to enhance your current business, using your existing efforts and intellectual property. 

First, since Gather Here has a lot of ties to groovy movie/tv/theatre people, they should video all of their classes, if they aren’t already, and turn them into training dvds/online videos. That is content that they can charge for. Added revenue streams = yea!

Then take those same videos, add in some written materials or patterns, and create enhanced eBooks for the iPad. Another revenue stream!

Lastly, just for fun and marketing, they could create a “Gather Here Web Show” where they invite in all of the interesting people they know, either locally famous, internationally well known, or not famous at all, have them sit with the owners and create something while being interviewed. Free, fun, content to keep people coming back to their sites.  And it will help drive in person traffic to the store to watch the filming and have a chance to create something with a famous or semi-famous individual.

So again, I am mainly posting this case study to give examples of what some small businesses are doing, and to get you thinking in different ways about how to apply social and digital media to YOUR business model.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post them below.

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