For some companies, small social spends lead to big business

Jaime Chapman, owner of Pineapple Pedicabs, carts two customers and her dog, Bill, through Reno this past summer. Chapman launched the company in 2019 and has since grown her fleet from one to five pedicabs thanks in part to wise spending on social media advertising.

Jaime Chapman, owner of Pineapple Pedicabs, carts two customers and her dog, Bill, through Reno this past summer. Chapman launched the company in 2019 and has since grown her fleet from one to five pedicabs thanks in part to wise spending on social media advertising. Courtesy Photo

When Jaime Chapman launched Reno’s first bicycle taxi service, Pineapple Pedicabs, in the spring of 2019, she knew using social media would be key to not only reaching new customers — but also educating them.

“In Reno, nobody knew what a pedicab was,” said Chapman, who relocated to Reno from Key West, Florida, where pedicabs are more common than taxicabs. “I would be driving it and people would be like, ‘is this for Burning Man?’ And I’d be like, ‘No, it’s a taxi service.’ So a lot of it’s been education.”

After the coronavirus pandemic slammed the brakes on the economy a year later — and nearly emptied the streets of Reno — Chapman felt the importance of having a strong social media presence accelerate.

“My business would not survive without it,” Chapman said. “It was the best way to reach my demographic. Besides people being out on the street and just seeing the pedicabs, the next avenue I have is social media.”

As a result of actively engaging on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook, demand for Pineapple Pedicabs’ services has not been slowed by COVID. Many people, Chapman found, are seeking new ways to explore Reno’s downtown and midtown areas — and, in general, spend time outside.

So much so that in 2020, Chapman started four Pineapple Pedicabs tours: the Biggest Little Downtown Reno Tour, Biggest Little Midtown Mural Tour, Burning Man Art and Mural Tour, and Biggest Little Brewery Tour.

Chapman, who started the business by herself with one pedicab, has grown her fleet to five pedicabs with a team of riders.

Jaime Chapman, left, takes two customers on Pineapple Pedicabs’ Midtown Mural Tour, which she started during the pandemic and promoted on social media to attract customers.


Her bicycle taxi business also offers digital advertising on the pedicabs, including a monthly option ($375), three-month option ($950) and six-month option ($1,750).

And how does Chapman let people know Pineapple Pedicabs is hiring or offers digital advertising? Social media.

“I can hit every market,” she said. “If you’re looking for a job, you’re looking for advertising, you’re looking for something fun to do or you just need a ride, I can use social media.”

With a fast-growing business, however, Chapman suddenly found herself with far less time to use social media as a tool to help boost sales.

“When you first start a business, you’re like, ‘I’m an entrepreneur, I can do everything myself,’” Chapman said. “And at some point, as a business owner, you can learn to delegate and realize, I don’t have to be a professional with this, I can hire somebody.”

So she did. This past March, Chapman hired a local social media management company, Honeypot, to take over her accounts. In all, Chapman said outsourcing her social media management equates to about 10% of her budget.

“I would say it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done for my company,” she said. “It was really a game-changer.”


Another business that has been buoyed by social media amid COVID is the Biggest Little Fashion Truck.

Britton Murdock, right, co-owner of the Biggest Little Fashion Truck, helps a customer at the BLFT retail store in Reno.


All told, when sisters Brigitte and Britton Murdock revved up their Reno-based boutique on wheels in 2016, they had social media at top of mind.

“It is our direct line of communication to our customers,” Britton Murdock said. “With being mobile, that’s how we let people know where we’re going to be, how to find us, and our upcoming events. It’s kind of the lifeblood of our business.”

And a lifeline since the pandemic started. Murdock said they relied heavily on social media to keep their business up and running, especially during the first wave of the pandemic last year.

Notably, BLFT also has a brick-and-mortar store at 1890 Dickerson Road in Reno.

“We would do doorstep drop-offs and do our online store,” Murdock said. “Even though our physical store and our truck were closed, we were still able to keep our business going through social media.”

During the pandemic, the BLFT owners have also increased their spending on boosting social media posts, a way to increase the exposure of a post and reach targeted audiences.

Sisters Britton Murdock, left, and Brigitte Murdock haul clothes out of their boutique on wheels.


Murdock said they spend between $500 and $700 a month on boosting posts on Instagram, their primary social media platform. In five years, their Instagram account, BLFTReno, has attracted more than 7,000 followers.

“It’s really affordable,” Murdock said of boosting posts. “Even throwing $50 at a post — $10 a day for five days — it really does make a difference. And that’s something that’s really cool about social media. We don’t have to hire an advertising agency to make this content. We can do it as frequently as we want, and we can create this organic communication with our followers.

“Before, you’d have to pay for more radio or TV advertisements. But, with social media, it’s unlimited.”


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