On Tuesday, Hui Cheng '16's Facebook newsfeed resembled a virtual Main Street. She saw a code phrase to use at Molly's for a free appetizer, Morano Gelato's flavors of the day and photos of new posters from International DVD and Poster. Moving beyond Hanover, local businesses have embraced social media and enhanced their online presences to allow loyal customers access to special promotions and attract new business.
Many local business owners believe that the shift to online marketing is necessary for their businesses' success. Nigel Leeming, owner of Murphy's on the Green and 3 Guys Basement BBQ, has created websites, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, mobile phone applications and Foursquare check-in locations for both restaurants. He also plans on tripling the restaurants' social media budgets in 2013 and has hired an employee to manage the restaurants' accounts.
"You can't survive without an online presence these days," he said. "Everything is online."
The businesses' social media presence helps potential diners connect to the restaurants, particularly 3 Guys, which opened last year.
"We want people to know what to expect coming in," Leemings said. "It's a pre-setting of the table, so to speak."
Chris D'Angelo '16, who recently "liked" 3 Guys on Facebook, said the page is frequently updated with pictures of new menu items.
"I've only been there once, so it is good to see what else is on the menu and what looks appetizing," D'Angelo said.
An online presence has always been a priority for Morano Gelato, which has had a Facebook account since the business was a stand at the Hanover Farmers' Market, owner Morgan Morano said. The page now has over 3,000 likes.
Morano uses Facebook status updates to attract customers to try the store's new flavors, store manager Rachel Dinane said.
"Seeing Morano Gelato's updates on my newsfeed reminds me to go into town and try them out," Pilar Brito '16 said.
While Morano and 3 Guys do not sell products online, International DVD and Poster has seen tremendous growth in sales from their Amazon store, manager Bryan Smith said.
Last year, online sales accounted for 25 percent of total sales, leading to an increase in sales from the previous year. In addition to the Amazon store, International DVD and Poster operates a Facebook page and a Foursquare account that feature promotions, including a 10 percent discount for students who check in at the store.
Two weeks ago, a student saw one of his friends check in to the store on Facebook and share that she had bought multiple vinyl records. Within an hour, the student entered the store and bought over $75 in records, Smith said.
Smith said that Facebook allows him to reach a large audience with minimal cost, since advertisements in print media are expensive and may be overlooked by readers.
"You pay $900 to print a coupon in a newspaper that people won't see or use, or you could pay $100 for a Facebook account that will reach thousands," he said.
In order to increase online presence and fully utilize social media, International DVD and Poster hired a Dartmouth student to manage and organize its online accounts.
Indigo and Bella clothing stores do not have their own website, but their Facebook pages and "constant contact" email distribution lists have boosted sales.
"Over the holidays, when we had Facebook promotions such as the friends and family sale, people came in," Indigo manager Sanna Finigan said.
Lou's Restaurant and Bakery's Facebook page, which features photos of weekly specials, has over 1,000 likes. Customers may order care packages and gifts for delivery on its website.