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Geng Wang Leads up Community Elf

Community Elf has earned a reputation as one of Pittsburgh’s top social media consultants by quietly working behind the scenes at some of Pittsburgh’s most notable businesses and retailers, including Laurel Auto Group, Century 3 Chevy and Cold Cow Ice Cream.

They handle Facebook, Twitter and oth- er social media channels to help busi- nesses grow their revenues. TEQ talked with Community Elf’s Geng Wang to get a little more insight into the compa- ny and what it’s like growing a startup in Pittsburgh.

teQ: Give us the scoop on Community Elf. Where are you finding traction? Geng: Community Elf has really taken off the past year, as we have been hiring one to two new employees each month. There are two areas that we have seen the greatest traction. The first is white-labeling our services for different agencies. With Community Elf’s focus on the execution of the day-to-day tasks involved in creating a strong social me- dia presence, we have found marketing and PR agencies to be a great fit. They are fantastic at creating the strategy and creative campaigns that really highlight their clients, while we are able to most efficiently carry out those strategies and campaigns. The second area we have seen a lot of traction is our work with local businesses such as auto dealers and retail stores.

teQ: What makes running Commu- nity Elf rewarding? What makes it a pain in the a$$? Geng: The most rewarding part of run- ning Community Elf is watching the people grow in the organization. It’s also been great just to witness the growth of the company and seeing everyone contributing to our growth. I think the things that are a little bit more painful are taking care of mundane tasks like taxes, which need to be done but just aren’t very fun.


teQ: What’s the biggest mistake a small business can make with their social media strategies? Geng: I think the biggest mistake small businesses make is they don’t have a clear understanding of why they want to be in social media. This often leads them to the second mistake I see a lot, which is their lack of focus causes them to try social media for a couple weeks but then abandon the effort—leaving orphaned profiles on the Internet.

teQ: Why is it important to engage a firm to run aspects of your social media? Geng: I think the biggest benefit of engaging a firm to run your social media is the dedicated attention that a firm brings to the table. I think for businesses to want to have a successful social media presence, they still need to stay involved, but hopefully they can leverage the expertise and experience of a social media firm like Community Elf. For larger companies and firms, out- sourcing social media may also be more cost-effective depending on the vendor.

teQ: Advice for those looking to start a business? Geng: I often tell everyone that I lucked into having a great co-founder in Jon Pastor. Looking back at the past three years, I think it would have been tre- mendously lonely and infinitely more difficult to have launched Community Elf on my own. Having a good co-found- er that you can depend on, commiserate with, brainstorm with, and to general- ly share the ups and downs of starting a company I think is the best advice I have for anyone looking to start a business.

teQ: What would make Pittsburgh a better place to grow a tech business? Geng: I think promoting technical skills like programming and coding in both high schools and colleges in the area would lead to a greater talent pool of coders, which would allow Pittsburgh to support a greater number of tech businesses. In addition, I think bringing in additional investors and/or educating Pittsburgh’s investment community to be more consumer- and on-line technol- ogy-oriented. I think this would really help prevent some of our high-potential startups from moving out of the region.

teQ: What do you do for fun when not working? Geng: Unfortunately there’s not a lot of time I spend not working. But I try to do enough work so that each year I can take at least one vacation with my wife. We both really enjoy traveling. Last year, we went to Yellowstone and this summer we’ll be going to Istanbul for two weeks. When in Pittsburgh, I’ve enjoyed exploring the different restau- rants in town and occasionally learning to cook a new dish.

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