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To TikTok or Not to TikTok… BOB Experts on How Social Changed Their Game

May 11, 2023

DEI,Events,Marketing,Rochester,Social Media

Author: Alyssa Bileschi

When online searching for “Black-owned businesses in Rochester, NY,” you’ll find directories with lists in the hundreds, articles about new businesses, Reddit threads with recommendations on where to shop, and even Facebook pages that house all the information you need to support your local BOBs.

If you look closely, you’ll find rockin’ social media accounts with thousands of followers. As marketing experts, we got a little curious. We wanted to know how these business owners managed their day-to-day operations and effectively engaged customers through social media.

So, we asked three local Black social stars how they do it all—from keeping up with trends to dealing with algorithms that pretty much change on the daily. Our three panelists, Champagne Manley of POP! Shop Jewelry, Brittany White-Volks of Black Owned in Rochester, and Dr. Nina Ruffin DSW, MSW, LCSW-R of Life Strategies Counseling Services and Sister Circles Roc, sat down with moderator Jessica L. Lewis, President & CEO of LáLew Public Relations and Interim Communications Manager for ROC the Future, to spill their social media marketing success stories.

Spoiler alert: the big secret is to be your authentic self and remember your business’ mission!

AAF Greater Rochester Black History Month panelists side-by-side smiling

Photo by Denise Batiste Photography

On February 16, 2023, more than 30 marketing professionals and new business owners attended the panel discussion at Urban Euphoria (a legendary BOB event space that—fun fact—was built for Rochester’s first mayor in the 1800s) to celebrate Black History Month and learn from their peers. Here are the key things we learned:

You Just Have to Start
Launching a new social platform can seem overwhelming, especially when you’re watching your peers go viral after ONE video. Just know that it’s not always about the numbers. Stay true to your brand and keep your content authentic.

Dr. Nina Ruffin shouted out to her loyal followers, who always engage with her content. She noted that she keeps her socials going just for them, even if every post doesn’t go viral.

Find the Platform That Works for You
Just because TikTok seems to be the “latest and greatest” platform in the game doesn’t mean it will be the most beneficial for your business. Or maybe it will! Think about how your business goals can or can’t translate to various social platforms.

Don’t be afraid to test the waters. If you want to try a different social platform and see if your audience and business can grow there, do it! Champagne Manley talked specifically about her success with Instagram reels, even if it’s content poking fun at Instagram’s push-and-pull algorithm with videos vs. images.

Invest in Social
Social media is an important investment if you want to reap the greatest benefits. And you can start small! Even $5 a day towards paid social can help boost your posts to reach people who may not have seen them. This is an easy way to enhance your growth and prioritize your content.

Brittany White-Volks began Black Owned in Rochester as a web directory that quickly took off. Yet her team has only started utilizing Facebook and Instagram in 2022! She now prioritizes paid social and boosts different posts on her platforms to reach as many people as possible.

AAF Greater Rochester Black History Month panelists speaking

Photo by Denise Batiste Photography

Let this be your inspiration to push boundaries with social media marketing. We live in an extremely unique time when one post can go viral and change everything for a business. Another topic that was reiterated throughout the event was to continuously be a supporter of BOBs on socials by engaging or sharing their services, products, and other information!

Follow the speakers on socials!
Champagne Manley: Instagram @popshopjewelry
Brittany White Volks: Instagram @blackownedinrochester
Dr. Nina Ruffin DSW, MSW, LCSW-R: Instagram @dr.ninaruffin.lcsw
Jessica L. Lewis: Instagram @lalew_pr