I've been working on setting up a social networking and social media center. I call it a direction and connection center. I want to put it in the heart of Chicago--Michigan Avenue. I have a lot of support from universities and the city and connections I have made over the last two decades. I see the need for a center like this but as I want it in a retail setting, what things should I watch out for or capitalize on or just be thinking about? One of the things to note is that I see that this type of center would appeal to a family, say a dad who needs to constantly keep up with the changing social media tools and strategies, the mom who wants to start a new business and even their kids who are into social but more for games, learning, etc. The center will not only respond to the need for learning but also the need for connection. My expertise is running networking events for years and I have run them outside of the business environment into the social side, hosting events like mini TED talks with people moving from table to table to talk about, as TED puts it, ideas that spread. (Hope this additional info helps)
This is a very interesting idea. Sounds like a hub where learning can take place as well as connecting with like-minded people. I have been hosting networking and leadership development events for 5 years. Some of the networking events led to hosting sessions on Twitter and LinkedIn for business owners. Your plan has a great deal of potential.
In order to get this off the ground you will need to develop some clear strategies and tactics around the specific offerings you will provide to which audience. For example: moms & dads - hosting weekly seminars, or one-on-one session (like booking an appointment with the Geniuses at the Apple Store); for business owners - a breakfast networking session that really focuses on connection (not media); regular workshops in different network segments; classes for entire teams.
The retail setting sounds viable. I like the fact that it would be accessible and you can definitely assist in capturing the teen market - helping them understand what should and should not be posted, how to build their profiles professionally for the future and more. You could connect this part of your enterprise to a fundraising event.
Looking at what you are considering and the location, tapping into resources at the Universities and business/tech accelerators could help you find talent to staff the facility - interns, co-op students etc.
This is an exciting venture.There are so many parts to consider as you get this going - costs, staffing, marketing etc. I would be happy to discuss building this plan with you. Please let me know how I can be of help with any follow up questions.