Native Content

Singing the praises of local businesses, Shop London finds
a welcoming and engaged audience

Photo: Rodney Lover with (left) Cassie Vivyurk of Vivify Social Media and Sarah Pattyn of Little Lables Boutique 

FACEBOOK MAY BE the most used social media platform, but here in London, says Rodney Lover of Lovers atWork Office Furniture, “Instagram has blown up in the last six to 10 months, mainly because of local 25- to 45-year-old entrepreneurs—particularly a group of young business owners in Old East Village, who have really fanned the flames.”

Often feeling like he was overwhelmed with negative business news stories, Lover has always looked for ways to cheer on local small businesses and draw attention to the many positive things he saw going on across the London region.

“I know how challenging it can be to have people follow your business on social media,” says Lover, who has been managing his company’s ­digital marketing since the mid-1990s. “With the excitement going on around Instagram, I figured it was the perfect platform for a new ‘cheer-you-on’ initiative. So I started @shopldnont on Instagram this past spring, and also a Shop London Facebook page.

“Instagram has blown up in the last six to 10 months, mainly because of local 25- to 45-year-old entrepreneurs—particularly a group of young business owners in Old East Village, who have really fanned the flames” — Rodney Lover

Lover compares the Shop London feeds to a radio station that plays the top hit songs. “We curate the best of local business, and when we see great stuff we repost it.”

If something is not reposted, he might send some tips back to let people know how to improve their posts. “Instagram is very visual. You need to have unique and colourful photos, and you really have to have an eye. But if you don’t, you can easily hire someone who does. It’s also important to have your business information easily available so people don’t have to read through a lot to find it.”

Lover admits that being constantly plugged into social media is time ­consuming, but feels it’s pretty much a requirement for running a successful small business these days. “People operate on their phones and mobile devices, and Instagram is mostly mobile—you can use it from your desktop computer, but it’s not the same experience.”

With the rapid growth of the Shop London sites, Lover turned to Cassie Vivyurk, owner of Vivify Social Media, for a helping hand. It’s a good fit, says Lover, because her expertise lies in helping businesses to effectively and efficiently manage their social media.

Although she works with all online platforms, Vivyurk is a huge fan of Instagram, and says Londoners are very interested in shopping and supporting local makers and sellers, something that is evident when you look at @shopldnont’s 1,400 followers—about 80 per cent are from the London region.

But posts are also grabbing the attention of people from other markets, says Lover. “To help attract people to the city we are hashtagging when appropriate, to get eyes from Toronto and such.”  Kym Wolfe