Google, Facebook, CardCash, Yelp, Websignia Headline Small Business Forum at Stevens

Small businesses were treated to a plethora of great advice, ideas and humor of course, at a small business forum hosted by US Senator Cory Booker. The Small Business Tech and Social Innovation Forum was held on Friday, July 11 at Stevens Institute of Technology.

Headlining the panel were Carly Graham Garcia, head of Google’s Global Industry Relations; Bess Yount, manager of Facebook’s Small Business Program; Darnell Holloway, senior manager of Local Business Outreach at Yelp; Elliot Bohm, CEO of; and Steven Jones, CEO and Inventor in Chief of Websignia.

The forum had a strong focus on social media, apropos for an event called by Senator Booker whose social media presence is unparalleled among politicians. Booker told the crowd about the time when he and late night host Conan O’Brien had a video war online over the city of Newark, that led to tremendous free publicity for the city where Booker started his political career as Mayor.

Following Booker’s introduction the diverse panel came on stage, where a forum ensued with the panel regaling the estimated crowd of 400 with ideas on how to innovate and use the internet to build and brand their businesses.

Garcia gave the crowd a number of tips on utilizing Google for their benefit, with reviews, content and more great opportunities for expansion.

Yount told a social media success story of a restaurant in Pittsburgh whose employees, facing an empty restaurant during a snowstorm, decided to build a toilet paper tower and then post a photo of the tower on Facebook, offering a free roll of toilet paper with each meal. Over the next two hours the post went viral and, importantly for the business, customers kept on coming, filling the store beyond capacity in middle of the snowstorm.

Holloway and Bohm both focused on the importance of answering your critics online, and using the feedback to better service your customers.

Jones gave valuable advice to the crowd on the importance of finding what works. Just because one social network is making noise it doesn’t mean it’s the best channel for you to reach your customers. Bohm took it a step further, telling small business owners not to spread themselves too thin on social media. “Find two social platforms that work for you and do them well”, said Bohm.

The hour-long discussion was followed by breakout sessions held by the panelists, giving those in attendance the opportunity to receive tailor-made advice for their businesses by these industry leaders.

Watch the entire forum HERE

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