He’s Not Ray or Mosaic Man, But He Plays Them on Twitter

Matt RosenStephen Rex Brown Matt Rosen manages the web presence of two of the neighborhood’s most revered characters.

Ray Alvarez may not remember Matt Rosen’s name or understand his social networking wizardry, but there is little doubt that the 30-year-old’s efforts have been a boon for the iconic and oft-embattled Ray’s Candy Store.

Since 2009, Mr. Rosen, has managed Mr. Alvarez’s @RaysCandyStore Twitter account, which boasts 1,064 followers, as well as the eatery’s pages on Yelp, Urbanspoon, Foursquare, and Café Press. Last month, Mr. Rosen added Jim Power, the Mosaic Man, to his stable of online accounts.

Not that Mr. Alvarez knows much about all that stuff.

“He does advertising for me — it’s really high-tech. I still don’t have a television — I don’t know what Twitter is,” said Mr. Alvarez, 78, when asked about Mr. Rosen. “I didn’t know his name is Matt.”

Numerous East Village businesses have a strong presence online. The Mermaid Inn offers happy hour reminders on a regular basis. Porchetta tweets about everything from food to politics. And Big Gay Ice Cream has kept followers up to date on the progress towards its opening on Saturday.

DSC00811Stephen Rex Brown Ray Alvarez, the owner of Ray’s Candy Store, knows business is up, but doesn’t have a firm grasp on his robust online presence.

It would be easy for an old-school business like Ray’s Candy Store to be left in the dust. Enter Mr. Rosen, a consultant for start-up businesses who moved to the neighborhood four years ago.

Mr. Rosen works with Ray’s and Mosaic Man pro bono, using the same social networking tools that are constantly at his fingertips during his day job working with new Web sites. He doesn’t mind the anonymity of ghostwriting. The reward from his work, he said, is the boom in business that both local legends are experiencing.

“Jim and Ray, they’ve been in the DNA of the neighborhood for a long time,” said Mr. Rosen, shortly after taking a call from a Yelp sales representative asking him to buy advertising for Ray’s Candy Store. “I’m pretty savvy, and we know this stuff is working. I can see the metrics.”

Mr. Rosen said he devotes roughly 15 minutes a day to managing the assorted online accounts for his two star clients. At the end of a typical day he searches for mentions on Twitter of Ray’s and the Mosaic Man and responds to them. It is apparently producing results.

“Lots of young people are coming now with their iPhones,” said Mr. Alvarez. “They say, ‘If I do this, I get $1 off, right?’ I say, ‘OK.’”

Indeed, Mr. Rosen said that last month, 130 people had checked in to Ray’s Candy Store through Foursquare for the first time.

“That’s tremendous,” said Mr. Rosen. “That’s two days-worth of revenue from Foursquare, and it took me just 15 minutes to set up.”

According to Mr. Rosen, donations to Mosaic Man’s PayPal account are also up.

That’s not the only example of Mr. Power’s new online presence producing results. Porchetta inquired about commissioning a new mosaic through Twitter, according to Mr. Rosen. The same goes for the soon-to-open Tompkins Square Bagel Shop.

Jim Power on the phoneStephen Rex Brown Jim Power on his cellphone, which he doesn’t use to manage his Twitter account.

“Matt is a very community-minded guy,” said Mr. Power. “He e-mails me when I have appointments; he’s helped me get some business.”

Mr. Power added that his social networking guru will be instrumental in realizing his ambitions of making the Mosaic Man known worldwide.

“We’re looking at a global community down the road, and his expertise is going to help shape that,” Mr. Power said. “He got 400 people up on Twitter in three or four weeks.”

Mr. Rosen said that once the @MosaicManNYC handle garners enough followers he’ll be able to mobilize them and make Mr. Power — who has struggled with homelessness — some much-needed money.

“Jim won’t have to scrounge for a nickel for an energy drink, or for food for his dog,” Mr. Rosen said. “Every little thing helps, one tweet at a time.”

Are there other East Village institutions that you think would benefit from an online presence? Tell us in the comments.