Tuesday, September 16, 2014

How important IS that thing called social media?

I touched on this topic in a previous post which you can find here - "The fear of change", 8.31.14   http://thefinal90days.blogspot.com/2014/08/fear.html - but I felt it was important enough to break down as a seperate topic.

How much does social networking really have to do with your business? I believe many would chime in to agree that it matters plenty, some might say yes but it's important to not assign too much value to the process, and perhaps most would confirm that it is "somewhat important". It's more critical than you may realize however, and is something you cannot afford to skip. Below are a few points that I think are worth sharing.

1. You are not simply throwing your business name into a hat, aka the vast world of facebook or twitter or pinterest. You are building a brand upon the activity and history you already have, to connect with other people across different areas of communication. Are you so wealthy and swamped with business that you no longer need additional customers? Then this post isn't for you.

2. Rather than wait until your customer base fades and shrinks, you are constantly positioning yourself to be noticed. This exposure silently works 24/7, 365 days a year to attract and reach out to a new segment of people. Are you out there for them to find? If not, you didn't just make it harder to gain business; you gave competitors who ARE out there a leg up.
3. Social sites may be the new "yellow pages" or phone book of the past. I say past as if I'm a dinosaur and yet I'm only 43. But I haven't pulled out a phone book in AGES. But "way back when", with yellow pages being the places you had to be listed, not many businesses turned up their noses at the idea and simply didn't bother. When someone wanted to find a coffee or book shop, those printed directories were the place to turn. Fast-forward to now and you'll see most people googling places to go, browsing nearby choices on Foursquare or scrolling through facebook.

4. Phone book listings never had fans or followers, or interaction for that matter. Today's networks do, meaning you can grow and cultivate an entire following on one site that could be very different from what you find with another one. Those interactions help you see what works, how customers respond to sale posts, ads for a special, or as a way to gain feedback on a particular thing.

I realize that from the perspective of a marketing guru this is written clumsily and the reason for that is I'm not one of those social-saavy people who build a career out of this. I'm just average small shop owner who was caught up in the day-to-day operations of the shop. Who didn't quite grasp the scale of connections that social sites offered, and who failed to realize the importance of finding a younger customer base. Who may have overlooked that the type of feedback I could have received would have been useful to tweak, edit and improve my shop. Yes, I have a facebook page, with a decent number of followers. But engagement with those "fans" is limited and I further limited it by not reaching out across other networks. I'm "friends" on facebook with a few younger customers but rarely see their posts. Why? Because their parents and grandparents are on facebook too, which in some cases is embarrasing and has led the younger generation to alternate sites such as instagram, twitter, snapchat, etc, and so it's valuable to diversify across several modes of communication.

Instagram....did that just make you think of pictures, that you would just take a bunch of snapshots of your merchandise or restaurant? And post them? What would you say or caption each one with? Yep! If a picture is worth words what does an incredible dessert just coming out of the oven look like? Well, in some cases it motivates me to get in my car and head off in the direction of said dessert. So why did my amazing double-diped peanut butter pretzels never debut on Instagram? I guess I was too busy - or I didn't get what it was all about - or didn't realize how I could speak to people who would oooh and aaaah over my confections.

You can't run a lousy business for long no matter how many fans you have and building up a large network of followers in no way guarantees your sucess. But for the sheer learning value in feedback when you run a poll, ask a question or hold a contest to name a new ice cream sundae, you can't afford not to be out there. Remember, if you are sitting still you aren't moving ahead. Do it now.

#socialmedia  #goodbye #smallshops #momandpop #bigboxfocus #independentsdying #locallyowned #Instagram #familyowned #twitter #facebook #engagement #fans #audience #followers #branding #connecting #customerbase #increasing #growth #interactions  #thefinal90 #socialnetworks

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