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Grow Your Business Social Media

Expert Advice: Harness Power of Social Media

What started as a summer adventure in 2009 turned into a national sensation for the small-business owners of the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck, and they have used social media to help make this happen.

During the “Small is the New Big” panel at the Social Media Strategies Conference in New York City on Wednesday, owners Bryan Petroff and Doug Quint – who this month appeared on the popular “Rachel Ray” TV food show – revealed how they fueled the success of their food truck with social media.

“We didn't force ourselves into avenues we didn't feel comfortable with,” said Quint, who manages the company’s Twitter account that has more than 11,000 followers. “We wanted to be genuine.”

Every day, Quint tweets the truck’s location and menu. News organizations soon caught wind of the business mainly because of word-of-mouth on social media.

Co-owner of J&D’s Foods, Justin Esch, also attributes social media’s influence for the growth of his business, which started three years ago in a garage and now sells bacon-flavored products such as Bacon Salt and Baconnaise in more than 15,000 stores worldwide.

With no marketing or advertising budget, Esch took advantage of social media to attract a following.

“Don't be afraid to fail. Create online buzz for new stuff,” Esch told an audience of eager social-media enthusiasts before showing them a sculpture of Kevin Bacon’s head made entirely from bacon.

“We've done novelty products that have turned into viable revenue streams,” he said.

Todd Sawicki of Cheezburger Network, an online humor company that “made an online social empire out of funny cat photos,” warned the audience to not ignore e-mail.

“One of our biggest social channels is e-mail,” Sawicki said.

“We've let the social community tell us what we should do next and then we do it.”

The four panelists also encouraged humorous engagement with social-media followers.

As a prank, Esch once told the world his business was about to launch bacon-flavored sex lube because of how well bacon chap stick sold. The faux product garnered a lot of buzz for his company even though the prank may have offended some customers.

“A lack of noise is worse than negative noise,” Sawicki said. “Provoke an emotional connection.”

Reach BusinessNewsDaily staff writer Brian Anthony Hernandez at Bhernandez@TechMediaNetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter (@BAHjournalist) and become his friend on Facebook (BAH Journalist) to interact or stay updated on news about small businesses.