The Slate on Devine clothing store advertises its social media accounts inside its store. (Photo by Ariel Meriwether/Carolina News and Reporter)

Coffee shop owner Fran Knudsen has always loved interacting with her customers.

But sometimes simply being in her shop isn’t enough. 

Marketing her business on social media is the best way for her to reach and connect with people on a deeper level and in real time, Knudsen said.

Locally owned businesses in Columbia are using social media platforms as a marketing tool to grow their clientele.

Apps such as Instagram and Tiktok, rather than newspaper ads and magazine features, are making headway as the best tactic to attract customers to small businesses. That’s helpful to the businesses, since customers already on are social media and many already are buying online.

Knudsen said social media interaction is a more effective way to reach current and future customers – wherever they are. Knudsen’s Blūm coffee shop has more than 4,000 followers on Instagram. Its posts include colorful graphics, Monday morning chats with Knudsen and creative shots of new drinks coming to the shop.

“We’ve done newspaper ads for a little bit and a mailer with other businesses on there,” Knudsen said. “It reached local people, but it was definitely much more expensive. Social media is more real and in the moment.”

Other stores, such as Slate clothing store on Devine Street, have found social platforms better for business than magazine ads and popup shops. 

Slate has reached a broader audience and hit a wider variety of demographics using social media, according to Katlyn Creed, Slate’s assistant manager.

“We have customers who are about 70-plus, and I think our youngest was 17 or 15,” Creed said. “We really hit every age group. Social media helps with our online sales. And we get orders from others outside of Columbia. We’ve even shipped to China.” 

Slate has more than 11,000 followers on Instagram and posts on its page every day. Its content ranges from videos with popular music to photos of outfits created with items from its store.

Slate uses social media to promote its gameday pregame gathering. Shoppers receive complimentary mimosas and get an opportunity to mingle with staff.

Posting on social media draws people in before they even come to the store, Creed said. 

“A lot of the time people will (message) us and say, ‘Can you hold this for me? I’ll come in tomorrow,’” Creed said. “I feel like Instagram has really helped the store pop off and open up a lot more opportunities.” 

Social media also can help businesses attract their target audience, according to Ashanti Thomas, the owner of Swiff, a Five Points clothing store. With a target audience of between ages 25 to 35, marketing on social networks is key to attracting that specific demographic.

Swiff has more than 5,000 followers and promotes a “simple but significant” style of leisurewear, according to its website. 

It creates outside-the-box videos and photoshoots of models wearing clothing in pleasant locations such as a field of daisies or its minimalist, Harden Street storefront.

Swiff also focuses on one of a kind content, so its buyers can embrace the brand’s unique feel, Thomas said.

“Our content is very original and authentic,” Thomas said. “People know us from our content, and content is how you get the people on your team. And once they’re on your team, they buy your jersey, which is our product.” 

Blūm uses social media trends to draw customers into the welcoming feel of the shop.  

“I try to do a little trending audios with a mix of organic content, so people get to see a little more of your brand,” Knudsen said.

The internet is about marketing, but it is also about forming connections with your audience, she said.

 “Social media is something more personal than getting something in the mail,” Knudsen said. “I can respond and get a chance to interact. So while they get to know Blūm, they get to like me. And that gets them to back your cause.” 


The information chalk board at Blūm Coffee shop on Devine Street (Photo by Ariel Meriwether/Carolina News and Reporter)

The storefront of Slate on Devine (Photo by Ariel Meriwether/Carolina News and Reporter)

An Instagram post from Swiff clothing store (Screenshot/Carolina News and Reporter)

An Instagram post from Slate on Devine (Screenshot/Carolina News and Reporter)