Working for the business of social media

Senior Jack King’s Web site, My College Cabana, is set to serve the college students of Mercer County with discounts at local bars and restaurants.

By Nicole Veenstra

Over the past year or so, Rider students Whitney Haddard, Jack King and Dasha Bunks have been busy trying to establish and make names for themselves and their businesses, despite the shaky economy that might seem uncertain for business startups.

A sophomore journalism major, Haddard created a business named SweetPea&Co., which sets up fan pages on social networking sites (SNS) for other businesses.

“I’m a really big advocate for [social networking sites],” Haddard said.

SweetPea&Co., coined from a nickname of hers, is a recent endeavor that she began over winter break after a catering company she works for asked if she would set up a fan page for them. Because she ultimately wants to be an event planner, Haddard feels that her business “could probably take [her] somewhere” in the future and beyond college. With the rough economy, however, she acknowledged that despite her early success, some businesses have not invested in hiring her to make fan pages because money is so tight.

Another student who has used SNS’s to benefit his Web site is Jack King, a senior entrepreneurial studies major, who created the Web site MyCollegeCabana.com. The Web site is a discount card service for the colleges in Mercer County. He hopes that once he officially launches his business, students from area colleges will use his site to get discounts at local bars and restaurants.

“Social media has played a huge part in our business,” King said. “I’m literally trying to get people to hear the company name and visit the Web site.”

One way he does this is by going “around to random places and [leaving his] business cards just to drive people to the Web site.” He feels that once people can trust the brand that is being marketed, it will be much easier for them to buy into the idea.

Bunks agrees that trust is one of the biggest driving points behind success.

“Truthfully, nothing works better than word of mouth,” she said. “Parents are more likely to trust their friends’ opinion than just randomly searching online or through newspapers.”

Bunks is a junior communication major who performs at children’s birthday parties with her company, Ladushki. She is not the founder of the company, but started as an assistant while in high school.

“I wanted to expand the business,” she said. “I ended up becoming a partner. I book the parties, update the Web site, and I have my own set of assistants.”

Student entrepreneurs like Haddard, King and Bunks are trying to find new ways to earn a living by creating their own businesses where they see a need for something modern and innovative. However, it’s no walk in the park. Establishing a business comes a high amount of responsibility and stress, but Haddard does not seem to mind.

“I don’t think I would be happy if I wasn’t stressed,” she said. “I love to be busy.”

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