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May 10, 2012

Social media and mobile web developers share insights on their growing businesses

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DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Tom Tom Founders Festival held the fourth in a series of weekly place-based innovation talks Wednesday with a panel discussion examining how businesses are incorporating social media and mobile software applications into many facets of their work.

Local experts described how they are growing their businesses in Charlottesville as they help other companies implement their marketing and digital plans.



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“We are a digital marketing company,” said Ryan Derose, founder of VibeThink. “What that really means is a digital strategy and building digital assets, from websites to mobile applications, then we also execute [those strategies].”

VibeThink launched in January and its four staff members already are working on a number of significant projects, including the digital strategy and new website for C-Ville Weekly.

20120509-TomTom1(In photo L to R) Oliver Platts-Mills (Tom Tom), Ryan Derose (VibeThink), Evan Cooper (Red Light Management), Tobias Dengel (WillowTree Apps), and Marijean Jaggers (Jaggers Communications)

Evan Cooper, director of digital strategies with Red Light Management, described how the changing music industry has elevated the importance of online connections.

“I handle the digital strategy for the East Coast side of our company — online fan clubs, online stores, all the social media stuff,” Cooper said. “It’s about figuring out the best strategy for an artist. We have all shapes and sizes and we figure out what the best fit is for those bands.”

“The music space has changed drastically, the big part of that being the move into the digital realm,” Cooper said. “Every touch point has some digital component.”

Marijean Jaggers, president of Jaggers Communication, said her company is helping businesses build strategies for everything they do online.

“We help companies tell their story so they can reach their audience,” Jaggers said. “Most are science-based or technology businesses. Locally, we are working with HemoShear and the Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors.”

In the audience, Kristin Blakey said she came to the event because she is the social media intern at Rebecca’s Natural Foods. The company recently launched a Facebook page and started using Twitter.

“I am looking for some tips that will help us with social media,” Blakey said. “It’s engaging with your customers and helping the community. I enjoy learning about what they are interested in.”

Asked what advice he would give a business owner new to social media, Jim Duncan, a local Realtor known for his new media toolkit and dedication to blogging, said people need to know it is hard work.

“Whenever I talk to someone about using social media … I tell them it is a supplement rather than a replacement for what they are already doing,” Duncan said. “I have to be good at what I do as a real estate professional first.”

“For a lot of people, they try and do social media a few minutes in the morning and a few minutes at night,” Duncan added. “For me, it doesn’t work that way. It has to be integrated in everything that I do throughout the day.”

The final event in the Tom Tom innovation series will be at 3 p.m. Friday at The Gleason, at 126 Garrett St. The wrap up keynote will profile the company Relay Foods and assess Charlottesville as a hub for startup companies.

Follow the innovation series at www.cvilletomorrow.org/TomTom.

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