Local Guys Hoping to Cash In on “Chatter”

As social media evolves, companies are jumping at the chance to connect businesses with customers

Social media is increasingly becoming the way to interact not only with each other, but also with companies and brands.

"It’s the wild west. It’s new territory," says Evan Urbania, principal at Philadelphia-based ChatterBlast Media.

Since 2009, Urbania and his business partner Matthew Ray have been taking part in a digital gold rush of sorts -- connecting companies to everyday Joes across the social sphere.

"The impetus was really quite simple. That this is coming, Facebook is growing, Twitter is growing, and this is going to be a part of your marketing mix and we really wanted to be a part of that," said Urbania.

Evan says he also got an extra push thanks to a slumping economy.
"Part of it was necessity. My job at the time was suffering because of the economy. Matthew, my business partner, and I, were really bouncing around ideas to how we can leverage social media and have some fun with it," said Urbania.

So with a good idea and couple of laptops the duo formed ChatterBlast with the goal of giving clients a social media makeover. Offering companies the opportunity to take part in the conversation happening around their brand.
"You certainly have some role in guiding, in creating [your message], but ultimately now, the community talks about it, shares it, promotes it, becomes ambassadors for it," Urbania says.

Quickly realizing the new reality for customer interaction, small businesses, government agencies and Fortune 500s put their faith in a little chatter.
"One thing we learned early on is that you can’t just stick with one formula and try to repeat that over and over again. It’s not a factory. We’re not serving up a process. Every single client is different," Urbania said.

In fact, the needs of one client helped create a whole new business opportunity for ChatterBlast. After working with The National Dog Show, Urbania says the company realized the fervor around some furry friends could open a new opportunity for the company -- in an iPhone app.
"We created that as a side project," he said.
A side project that's now earning them money. CoverPuppy takes your lovable pooch and turns them into a magazine star. It's a high tech edition of old fashioned business sense.
"The process starts with an idea, it goes on to create some technical specifications, and then you work with developers, more times more revisions than you like to admit," he said.

As for advice for the budding entrepreneur who may want to jump in to the quickly changing digital world, Evan says ignore your fear.

"The big advice is really take a risk. If you’ve got an idea, act on it. It doesn’t have to be perfect right out of the gate," he said. "We don’t use the word experts, because we’re not. It’s changing too fast."

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