Tag Archives: social media

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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Filed under Facebook and Twitter, How to, Interview

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 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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Interview with a Massage Therapist

This is an interview with an NY based Massage Therapist who’s business La Dolce Vita Massage is based in Long Island City.  We would 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 would like us to ask future subjects.

CSM: What kind of business do you own?

Answer: Massage Therapy Business

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

Answer: 4712 Vernon Blvd, Hunters Point (Long Island City). From street traffic or by word of mouth.

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

Answer: Men & Woman between 18-80. I also focus on pregnant woman of any age.

CSM: What is your primary marketing strategy (is it traditional, like print/TV or is it mainly digital). If both, how does the approach to each differ?  How do the results differ?

Answer: Primarily my website is my main marketing strategy, but I haven’t tried the print approach yet. I’m sure print advertising will work for me, I just have not have placed an add in a publication yet. I’m looking to place an add in next month’s LIC/Astoria free magazine Boro.  I’m excited to see the results of local adverting.

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

Answer: Right now I’m on Facebook, Yelp, Google and LinkedIn.  I’m still a little uneducated about  social media, so I’m not as familiar with twitter and even facebook buisness pages as I would like to be.

CSM: How does marketing through social media impact your business (if it does not impact your business please explain why)? Please discuss the primary impact as well… is it sharing information, actual sales, building a fan base, etc.

Answer: I’m not sure how much of an impact social media will have on my business as I am relatively new. I believe that google ads and yelp will help tremendously.  I plan to steer more of my current customers there to post reviews, in order to acquire new clients and increase awareness in LIC.

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

Answer: I believe social media is imperative to the success of any business and while I work in a large city people search locally.  I think social media makes finding places easier, and reviews help either drive people or ward them away.  I’m excited in the way the community comes together in sites like Astorians.com.  It makes this big city feel much smaller.

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

Answer: I would do more print ads and handing out of flyers (which I don’t think really work)

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

Answer: Absolutely not, isn’t social media just an extension of word of mouth adverting? Maybe if your running a bad business.

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

Answer: Know your market and use online resources that are geared towards those individuals. Targeting is key, use internet searches to your advantage.  Sometime even a little homework goes a long way.  Also, understand your client, if you get a negative review reach out and contact that person and see if you can resolve the situation.

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Twitter 101

With 2010 coming to a close and 2011 knocking on the door, social media is all the buzz.  It has emerged as a viable advertising medium and something that can be applied to almost any business.  The best part is that it’s free. With Twitter and Facebook emerging as the clear winners there are lots of other social media outlets as well that could help you. Unless you use these tools everyday this social world may seem scary.  Some questions that might come to mind, are how do I use these social tools to increase my business?  What helps me get customers to come back again and again to my page or following my business?  There are most likely several other questions that come to mind as well.  Hopefully, this will help you get started on social media and understanding it.  Lets start with Twitter.

Twitter:

101 – Introduction
http://support.twitter.com/groups/31-twitter-basics/topics/104-welcome-to-twitter-support/articles/215585-twitter-101-how-should-i-get-started-using-twitter
I like this site, it explains Twitter and how it works in ways you will understand.  It also is a great starting point if you have a question about Twitter.  If you are a newbie, this is the first place you want to go.

101 – Business
http://support.twitter.com/articles/218635-business-101-getting-started-on-twitter
http://support.twitter.com/groups/35-business
Plain and simple, businesses are one of the key reason Twitter is an effective tool. The link above gives the 101 on how as a business you can use Twitter.

FAQ
http://support.twitter.com/entries/13920-frequently-asked-questions
Who doesn’t have questions?  This page will help you find answers.

Follow these blogs:
http://blog.twitter.com/
http://twitter.com/search?q=%23TwitterTip

Engage your consumer – JetBlue does this really well.
http://twitter.com/jetblue

Example:
When your promoting your business, remember to give your “fans” a reason to subscribe or follow you.  Do fun promotions on twitter.  A great example of this is JetBlue

http://econsultancy.com/us/blog/5579-jetblue-gives-away-1-000-tickets-on-twitter-3

Tip: Remember that EVERYONE can see your twitter, your followers get updates when they log in on the dashboard.

Tip # 2:  Twitter also shows up on google when you search however, only when it’s a highly tweetted item.  Try typing JetBlue twitter into google and you will see a Real Time Results section in your google search.

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

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Filed under Facebook and Twitter