It was 2007 and my business was in trouble. For the previous 20 years, Unique Photo had been one of the largest distributors of photographic supplies, including film, cameras, photo paper, chemistry, and accessories. At one time, we even represented 5 percent of all rolls of film sold in the U.S. Our customers were primarily small retail outlets, such as camera stores, photo labs, tourist shops, pharmacies, and professional photographers. They relied on us for low prices, quick delivery, and stellar customer service. As we entered the early and mid-2000’s, we were plagued with many seemingly insurmountable attacks on our business.

My solution was to open the Unique Photo camera superstore. Yes, I opened a store when most other stores had gone under. I wanted to reinvent the camera-store concept and build something unique, no pun intended. The problem was, how was I going to execute this new concept with limited time and budget? We were so far behind the competition; we couldn't outspend Best Buy in advertising dollars or surpass Amazon in technological prowess and presence. Unique was a B2B business, new to the retail business, which meant that consumers had never heard of our brand.

I decided to give social media a try. It was inexpensive, had a low entry barrier, and I could do it myself. I learned the techniques of using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and email. I even invented a few tricks of my own, including a two-brand strategy for enhancing the power of the company’s and my personal brands.

Within five years we became a highly recognized brand (more than 50 percent of residents and 80 percent of photographers) in New Jersey for camera equipment and photography supplies, and we became one of the largest, single-location camera stores in the country. In 2013, we were picked as the best camera store in the country by DIR Magazine.

Using social media to build my brand and business worked, and even better than I had even imagined. I will share in this session the social media techniques I used to make us successful.