Category Archives: Facebook and Twitter

Boutique Owner Grows Small Business by Using Social Media

Carla Gizzi knows her business. She’s had a vintage inspired home and jewelry boutique in Red Bank, New Jersey for fifteen years. She says that business has slowed in the past few years, but with a loyal following it hasn’t disrupted her passion for buying merchandise and finding new ways to promote her shops. By using a combination of social media and cause marketing strategies Carla is bringing in new customers and growing her business.

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Hiring Somebody to Help with Social Media: What You Need to Know

An important part of starting up a business is figuring out where it’s worth spending money to save time.  Many people decide that when it comes to social media, time is money and they would rather bring in someone to do the work.  This decision is not a bad one, but it can’t be emphasized enough that one must still understand the ins-and- outs of the social media being used to promote their business.  From strategy to execution, just because you’ve brought in an “expert” to do the work, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be knowledgeable about every part of the process.

I have watched several people I know and worked for hire a person to do web design, manage a blog, and post on twitter without having knowledge of what a position like that actually entails.  In my experience this leads to disaster.  Sometimes it’s the employer asking too much, but more often than not it’s the person they hire doing too little.  As a freelancer who has experience working on social media strategy for clients I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten a job because the person prior to me didn’t do the work that was asked of them, leaving the business with a big mess to clean up.

For starters, I have to emphasize the importance of hiring the right person to create your website.  It’s the one area where skimping on payment up front will end up costing you money in the long run.  Unless you are already a skilled web designer, or have a best friend or spouse who is: DON’T TRUST FREE OR CHEAP LABOR WITH THIS TASK.  A website is the new storefront and you wouldn’t open your business in a dilapidated building, so you shouldn’t be inviting people to visit a poorly designed, poorly functioning website either.  If you can’t afford a website right away Tumblr has been getting a lot of press recently as a great blogging platform for small businesses because its easy to use.  Facebook can also serve as an interim landing point for people looking to find your business online (check out our Facebook 101 post).

One fantastic way to get some great labor when it comes to managing your social media is through hiring interns.  If you’re near places of higher education that offer a media studies program you can get an intern to come in a few days a week and tweet, Facebook and blog for you.  Students are going to be on top of what’s happening on the social media scene and because they’re there to earn credits they aren’t going to slack or up and leave you (at least hopefully not).  It’s a great opportunity to let a person take some initiative and improve your social media strategy as well as content. After all it’s what they’re studying in school.  However, make sure you have them show you what they’ve done (maybe daily or weekly).  I used to work with a woman who would get interns every semester, giving them social media responsibilities while she focused on more traditional marketing.  Unfortunately, she didn’t take the time to keep up with what they were doing and where/how they were promoting her program online.  When they left at the end of the end of every semester she would find herself back at square one and with a very scattered online presence.  Also, make sure your interns understand your business before you let them loose with social media and give them the content you’d like them to turn into posts on your blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

If you choose to hire a freelancer, think carefully about what you want them to do, because often you are paying them by the hour.  As a freelancer, I think my clients often get the most bang for their buck when they come to me knowing exactly what they want and then pay me to execute it.  Unlike with a media studies intern where you can give them the freedom to take initiative with your social media strategy, allowing a freelancer to do this could become quite costly.   I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard clients gripe about past freelancers who didn’t do what they wanted.  It seems to me that it’s because they end up getting charged for the freelancer doing a lot of thinking about social media strategy, but little on the execution side.

I think when making the decision about whether or not to pay for something, or do it yourself, it’s important to sit down and think through, “what do I have time to do?”  Often the answer is that you don’t have time to update your blog, or tweet every day, or engage with Facebook fans regularly.  But, you should make time to review diverse competitor’s media strategies, and develop the online presence you’d like your business to have, how you’d like to be represented, and lastly what kind of social media would work best for you.  Once you know those things, you will have a higher level of success when you bring someone in who can execute it all.

We would like to hear about your hiring experiences…What have you found to be effective and ineffective?

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Interview with a Real Estate Agent

This is an interview with Real Estate Agent Barry Kramer of Westchester Choice Realty in Scarsdale, NY.  We’d love reader feedback on what questions we should be asking in future interviews so please leave a comment, either with follow up questions for this interview or questions you’d like us to ask future subjects.

CSM: What kind of business do you own?

Answer: Residential Real Estate, homes, condos, co-op sales and rentals.  We are an independent brokerage with about 10 agents.

CSM: Where is your business located?

Answer: Scarsdale, NY in Westchester County

CSM: Where do you do most of your sales?

Answer: Locally, Eastchester, Scarsdale, Tuckahoe, Bronxville, Hartsdale and White Plains.  Our most significant market is along the Harlem Train Line.  We specialize on Garth Road, Scarsdale, NY.

CSM: What is your target demographic (age, location, social-economic status)?

Answer: Since we sell a lot of co-op apartments we target first time buyers.  We also target seniors that own homes and may be considering downsizing.

CSM: What is your primary marketing strategy (is it traditional, like print/TV or does is it mainly digital)

Answer: We do a lot of Internet marketing, and less print than we used to.  We have our own website, and are also on most major Real Estate search engines like Trulia, Zillow and Realtor.com.  We also still do quite a bit of direct mail.

CSM: – if both, how does the approach to each differ?  How do the results differ?

Answer: With our Internet marketing we try to get new buyers, while our direct marketing is to secure listings in the area we specialize in.

CSM: What social media do you use (Facebook, twitter, etc., etc.)

Answer: We use Facebook, and have our own Facebook page.  We also started to use Twitter, but haven’t really used it very much.

CSM: How does marketing through social media impact your business (if it does not impact your business please explain why)?

Answer: Well, it seems like in Real Estate you’ve got to be in nearly everything.  Places like Facebook have begun to eliminate separate places on individual pages to list homes for sale.  They seem like they want mainly personal stuff, and if you’re a business they want you to have a business page. Consumers, and especially young buyers like the interaction through places like Facebook.

CSM: Please discuss the primary impact as well… is it sharing information, actual sales, building a fan base, etc.

Answer: Yes, all of the above.  Consumers want information and not just selling.  If you can provide information on your social media and other web tools you’ll be ahead of others.  Everyone wants to be liked.  I’m always weary about liking other Realtors.  They’ll just take that into a listing presentation and say look, even Barry Kramer likes me.  Building a base of clients is great, but you’ve got to stay in touch!

CSM: How is social media changing the sense of community around your business?

Answer: Yes it is.  Every Realtor has a Blog and communicates on Facebook etc.  You’ve got to be careful though not to exclude older buyers that might prefer an old fashioned phone call.  It’s a mix.  Real Estate has always been a people business, and media like Facebook is just one more way to communicate with buyers and sellers.

CSM: How would your marketing strategy be different if you didn’t have social media as a tool?

Answer: We never got rid of the other stuff. We’ve cut back on print media, and have not eliminated entirely. We still do direct mail. We’ve included social media into our strategy, but it’s not the only thing we do.

CSM: Is there any instance in today’s world where you would NOT recommend social media as part of a business strategy?

Answer: When we try to reach older buyers it’s not a really good strategy.  Also, homes need to be seen, felt and explored.  Sure we can do a virtual tour, but you just can’t smell fresh baked cookies in a beautiful kitchen on Facebook, at least not yet anyway.

CSM: What advice do you have to offer other people entering your industry as they contemplate where to put their efforts online?

Answer: Be online, but there’s more to real estate than social media, having a good website, and blogging.  Eventually you’ll have to meet a buyer or seller and through ups and downs negotiate a deal.  Social media may be a start, and may even be the way you keep in touch after the deal is over.  Studies have shown that buyers and sellers work with people they like.  Even if you’re the best social media expert if they don’t like you they won’t do business with you.  Embrace social media, but don’t forget the basics.

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Social Media Strategy for the Cinnamon Snail

Last week I spoke with Adam Sobel about how he uses social media for his small business.  Initially, I found the Cinnamon Snail through an article in my local paper, but since then I started following him on Facebook. It was cold day when we spoke, but he had a long-lineup of loyal customers who wanted to have some great vegan food served up right out of a food truck. How’d they find him? Through his Facebook and twitter updates.

There was a lot of ooohing and ahhing as some people ate right there on the spot. I waited to get home and have the *Special* lemongrass 5 spice seitan, with arugula, red curried cashews, wasabi mayonnaise, and Szechuan chili sauce on a grilled baguette. My husband couldn’t believe what we were eating wasn’t meat. Kudos to Adam! Delicious. Delicious. Delicious!

Watch how this entrepreneur merges culinary inventiveness with sound marketing practices. He is the one to watch because he’s only been in business since February this year and converted another new customer—Me!

If you didn’t see my earlier post check it out now.

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Who Uses Twitter?

Hot off the presses, the Pew Report on Who’s Using Twitter was just released today. Here’s what they found about twitter users:

• 14% are between the ages of 18-29
• 7% are between the ages of 30-39
• 18% Hispanic
• 13% Black
• 7% White
• 10% Women
• 7% Men
• 9% College educated
• 5% High school diploma
• 11% Urbanites
• 8% Suburbanites
• 36% Check twitter updates one time per day
• 25% Check twitter updates a few days per week or every few weeks
• 54% Make post humorous or philosophical observations about life
• 53% Re-tweet material posted by others
• 24% Use the service to tweet their location

Check out the Full Report

How does your Business use twitter? We’d love to know…

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Facebook 101

Most likely if you’re reading this blog you are on Facebook. Facebook has truly changed the way we keep in touch with one another mostly, to see whats happening in someone’s life. It has made the world a smaller place. The same applies for business. For any business it’s important to keep your fans up to date with what’s happening. This applies more so to certain business than others. For example, an auto body shop doesn’t need to update it’s customers with what is going on, but a TV network does it to keep their viewers informed. This applies to small business and non profits as well.  Facebook helps you reach out to your consumers/fans and hopefully create new business opportunities. Facebook is also a positive way to engage fans and get them to interact with your brand. Status updates are a great way to ask fans questions and get them thinking about how they feel about what you do. Keeping your existing fan base up to date with information they want to know is key. e.g – a sale, specials, tips, and even relevant articles.  Also, add the “like” button to website! Become friends with other businesses and most likely they will friend you back.

One thing that is a bit confusing is if you want to create a page or link it to a profile. I would recommend a page, however there are certain times that a profile will work best.  Here is a great article that explains it all.
http://searchengineland.com/facebook-101-a-simple-guide-to-understanding-when-how-to-use-basic-features-57888

Facebook 101 Business Guide – here is a great step by step on how to create a Facebook page: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/facebook-101-business-guide/

Facebook Pages – This page is direct from Facebook Help Center.  It’s a great link for any questions you have. http://www.facebook.com/#!/help/?page=175

There are tons of great Facebook apps for doing business, one that is invaluable is Static FBML.  The application allows you to create tabs on your profile that are specific to your business using html, cms, and javascript coding.  For those who can’t code, its easy to find what you need by doing a simple google search.  Static FBML also allows businesses to change their Facebook landing page.  So rather than having the Wall be the first thing people see, you can have have a page that displays your merchandise and encourages people to purchase.

Here’s a link to some helpful code:
http://www.mybusinesspresence.com/basic-html-code-for-your-static-fbml-pages-on-facebook/

Here are some how-to links:
http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=4949752878&b
http://www.hyperarts.com/blog/tutorial-facebook-pages-with-static-fbml-application/

Lastly, what do you post? Here are a few articles about what you should and should not post: http://www.123etiquette.com/business-etiquette/facebook-business-etiquette-101/ and http://gigaom.com/collaboration/32-ways-to-use-facebook-for-business/

How does your Business use Facebook? We’d love to know…

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Interview with a Fashion Designer

This is an interview with an LA based clothing designer who is a friend of Ellie’s.  We’d love reader feedback on what questions we should be asking in future interviews so please leave a comment, either with follow up questions for this interview or questions you’d like us to ask future subjects.

CSM: What kind of business do you own?

Answer: A women’s contemporary, eco-friendly clothing line sold in small boutiques, and a secondary line sold in a contemporary mass-market retailer.

CSM: Where is your business located?  Where do you do most of your sales?

A: Los Angeles. My showroom is based out of Los Angeles, but I sell primarily to boutiques on the East coast.

CSM: What is your target demographic?

A: 25-40. City-dweller. College and above. Either in a creative field or views themselves as creative.

CSM: What is your primary marketing strategy?

A: Digital: but primarily through blogs and press writing about us, through finding out about us or our press releases.  We are of the strategy that we don’t pay for press, we are interesting enough to warrant press on our own.

CSM: What social media do you use (facebook, twitter, etsy, etc.)?

A: Our own website.

Our blog (one per line).
Facebook pages (one per line).
Online shops.

CSM: How does marketing through social media impact your business?

A: The main goal at this point is to build awareness to support the stores that carry our line, and to eventually drive sales to our online sales. My blog gets only about 400 readers a day, and I keep writing for personal interest as well as so that when I post something about my line: at least 400 people see it that day.

But…I don’t really know how much it does. My product is specific, fitted and sized it’s a lot harder for me to convert to a web sale. A friend has a t-shirt line and she sells tons anytime she posts a sale on twitter or fb: but it’s simply sized and boys buy it too.

CSM: How is social media changing the sense of community around your business?

A: That’s a good question: it amazes me that people I’ve never heard of “like” my line on facebook, so in some ways I’m more connected to people that are a part of my company’s community. But how many of those “likes” are as important as someone who bought a dress of mine three years ago, then again last year, then found my secondary line, bought two pieces, and then gave another piece as a gift and talks up my line whenever possible, and hates facebook?

CSM:  How would your marketing strategy be different if you didn’t have social media as a tool?

A: I view social media more as a display case for what our brand is doing than an outreach tool.  So, I wouldn’t be able to tell as many people what we are up to or I would need another outlet.  I think that the internet and social media is invaluable to young and independent designers, that having been said, it’s also a bit of a time suck. 🙂

CSM: Is there any instance in todays world where you would NOT recommend social media as part of a business strategy?

A: OMG.

The other day I heard on the radio a chapstick ad where they extolled you to “learn more about us on facebook” and my aunt’s company (a science/tech/but only to the industry company) had her do a facebook page and the other day Tide told me that like 40 of my friends were fans of Tide. First of all, unless you have a full marketing plan to roll out with your FB or twitter or whatever, or if you are a big mainstream company it’s pretty pointless. Secondly, anyone who “likes” a big mainstream brand unless it’s Obama, is a nerd and not a social innovator and their FB status aren’t even coming up on my home page and I don’t really care what they think anyway. Thirdly, if your company doesn’t interact with individual consumers: I would skip the social networking unless you are in tech.

CSM: What advice do you have to offer other people entering your industry as they contemplate where to put their efforts online?

A: One has to figure out what type of social media is best in relation to their line and in relation to them as the spokesperson for their line, if they are one.

Blogging makes sense for me because it fills in the holes of the inspiration and interest in my line—if you think my line/blog is cool—maybe you think my blog/line is cool. Facebook is to connect on a more direct level for people. I don’t do twitter because I don’t want my Self to be too closely aligned to my brand, my Self is worth more than my line. We can all smell the cheese when someone tweets or FB for their job or whatever—horrible. I also don’t value the idea of twitter: I think it’s a waste of time unless there is a crime on my street or an attack in Mumbai.

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