Facebook fans increasingly ‘like’ La Grange business page
Alex Onion, an student at Indiana University, took a photo of the fountain in Village Plaza on July 23 as part of a La Grange Business Association contest she started. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 27, 2012 10:13AM
A La Grange college student hasn’t dressed as Waldo in a striped shirt with big round glasses, but she’s having fun with a similar game, Where’s Alex, to promote La Grange businesses.
Alex Onion, a junior at Indiana University, has been selecting village landmarks or La Grange Road locales to photograph and post on the Facebook page of the La Grange Business Association, which has hired her as a summer intern.
“We wanted to get an idea started on Facebook to get more people to like our page, interact with us and reach as large an audience as possible,” Onion said.
On a walk through town, the communications and marketing major snaps a photo and posts it online on a Wednesday, advertising a prize offered by a local business to whomever guesses the location. Prize sponsors have included the Red Mango yogurt store in June and the New Vintage coffee and gift shop in July. McDonald’s has stepped forward for August prizes.
“A $25 gift certificate is a good incentive to get people in,” said Arlene Kallien, owner of New Vintage at 22 W. Calendar Ave. “I’m looking for repeat business. The more they come in here, that will become their habit.”
While Kallien is uncertain whether customers have come specifically because of the business association’s Facebook challenge, she said she hopes that’s the case.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Kallien said. “Alex has been a wonderful help, and her internship has benefitted me.”
Onion said past contests have included the Stone Avenue train station, the La Grange Theatre, the post office, the Superman mural at Chimera’s Comics and the decorative grandfather clock sponsored by McDonald’s for the association’s Hour Town, Time Well Spent in La Grange summer outdoor art exhibit.
“Since I started working on the page, we’ve received about 100 new followers since the end of May,” Onion said. “People are asking me about it now.”
A 2010 graduate of Lyons Township High School, Onion said she heard about the business association’s unpaid internship and decided to apply to gain experience on marketing campaigns and public relations efforts.
“I’m getting a lot more experience than I’ve had in class,” she said. “I’ve had a public relations writing class, but never written a press release, sent it, and also put it on Facebook and Twitter. It’s taught me how active you have to be to put the message out there.”
Nancy Cummings, executive director of the business association, said an article in The Doings about a high school student helping an organization with its social media presence spurred her to hire an intern.
“College students move in the area of social media very easily and integrate it into their lives. It’s just part of their normal daily routine,” Cummings said. “Alex has literally doubled our presence on Facebook because of her involvement the last three months.”
Onion also conducted a short workshop for association members on Twitter, how to set up an account and use it.
“She’s maintained our photo library, did Twitter, Facebook and YouTube for us and updated our website,” Cummings said. “It’s almost like having a professional who’s been in the workforce a long time. I’ll really miss her when she goes back to school.”