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Maximizing your online spaces

Image marketing and building community

As a business owner, you have many ways to build community. What’s important is showing up for your people.


Estimated time: 3m

In March 2020, Greg Tillery, the owner of We Dat’s Chicken & Shrimp in New Orleans, shut down to help limit the spread of COVID-19. But he still had a refrigerator full of food. Rather than let it go to waste, he cooked it all and fed firefighters, trash collectors and anyone in his community working hard to keep the city running. This sense of community is in Tillery’s blood, but he also found it was good business. People remembered him, and they remembered his restaurant.

It took months before Tillery reopened. In the meantime, he made seasonings and stocked them in New Orleans grocery stores. It didn’t take long before he noticed his restaurant brand popping up on social media.

“People tagged me on Instagram all the time,” Tillery recalls. “They’d say, ‘The restaurants were closed, but I made my own Wuzzam Wings.’”

Tillery also shared his journey on Facebook. He talked about what it took to reopen and the lessons he learned after a difficult year. His openness only won him more fans.

As of June 2021, his restaurants were running at 100% and he’d even opened two new locations in Texas.

“People have been cooped up in the house for a year, They want to go out and eat.”

Greg Tillery

Owner of We Dat’s Chicken & Shrimp

Every business has the potential to create its own unique community. Like Tillery, you might create community by supporting essential workers. You can also promote the creativity and good work of your customers by sharing their social media posts in your marketing (with their permission, of course). Sometimes all it takes is having a little fun.

Events, meetups, charity events, contests and other interactive experiences can connect customers to each other. And it’s important to ask for customer feedback and input, and to acknowledge how much they mean to your business. However you choose to build community, what’s important is that it comes from a sincere desire to make meaningful connections with people — that they’re your first priority.

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