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Social Media is Making a Splash in Port City Business World

By Brittany Sperino Horsford, Contributing Writer
OSWEGO, NY – Some Oswego businesses have been slow to start, but many have hopped onto the social media ball and now it’s rolling.

The presence of Oswego businesses on social media is amplifying and for good reason.

The business world of Oswego has undergone great changes in the past decades.

Mary Vanouse, the director of community development in Oswego, recalled the major shift from large factories to small businesses.

Mackenzie Oatman uses social media to help enhance her local business.
Mackenzie Oatman uses social media to help enhance her local business.

“In the 1990s, we had a 72 percent vacancy in downtown Oswego because a lot of the factory businesses left,” Vanouse said. “But with the Micro Enterprise Program, we were able to fill those vacancies with locally-owned businesses.”

The Micro Enterprise Program provides training to equip aspiring and existing business owners with the specific knowledge of what it takes to own a successful business in Oswego.

The program covers areas such as recordkeeping, business planning and financing, and taxes. More information can be found on the city of Oswego website, www.oswegony.org.

“Now, we have a thriving downtown,” Vanouse said.

Vanouse recognized social media plays a part in business success today, especially businesses that rely on college support, from both students and faculty alike.

According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2013, 73 percent of adults are using social media of some kind. The study also found that by far, Facebook is the leading social media platform that is engaging its audiences.

Two businesses in Oswego that are utilizing social media heavily in their business strategies are Sensibility Outfitters and Zink Shirts. Both stores are in the clothing industry, but offer very different services.

Zink Shirts offers customers clothing, screen-printing services and a venue for art and music in one space.

Mark Solazzo, an employee at Zink Shirts, said that social media is a very important part of their business strategy.

“It’s a bridge to the unknown customers,” Solazzo said. “You can reach people all over the planet and expand your network virtually anywhere.”

Zink has a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and a company website.

Solazzo recommended businesses be creative and diverse with their content to attract new consumers.

“If small businesses do better, the community will thrive more,” Solazzo said.

Mackenzie Oatman of Sensibility Outfitters has the same mentality about social media and local business.

Sensibility Outfitters is a consignment shop, located at 193 W. First St. in downtown Oswego.

Oatman and her mother, Shellie, opened the store in August 2013.

The Oatmans’ inspiration to start Sensibility Outfitters stemmed from an interest in business and a smartphone app called Poshmark, where people could sell clothes from their closets via social media.

Mackenzie Oatman originally wanted to do an online store only. But, but after investing in a storefront downtown, she kept using the online presence to the store’s advantage.

“It’s a free and easy way to reach our customers. We target all women,” she said.

It’s a large audience to reach, but Oatman has noticed certain social media platforms cater to different ages.

In Oatman’s experience, she found Sensibility Outfitters’ Facebook page reaches more customers who are in their late 20s and older, while the Instagram page reaches more customers in the high school to university age range.

She plans to expand Sensibility Outfitters’ social media presence to Yelp, a review website and smartphone app.

“It’ll help target the out of town consumers who are looking for something to do,” she said.

Oatman utilized as many social media outlets she could when Sensibility Outfitters’ promoted its event The Prom Project during March.