Social Media: like, unlike

If anyone reading this hasn’t jumped in feet first into the social media world, you may not be missing out on much.

Having spent much of last year working on growing my social media exposure, there are a few things I’ve learned I learned along the way. I have been tweeting for 3 years and have tweeted over 7000- 140 characters of wisdom. Well, I like to think they are. My facebook page has a less than average number of “likes”- 208 for Global Purchasing Companies and 164 for Dovetail Clothing Company. Seems that people “like” me more as a person- 491friends on my personal page. I’ve gathered this information from using my own companies as the testing grounds and this is what I have learned.

You can’t ignore or wish away social media, it’s here to stay and it’s not just “something the kids do”. Every credible business must have, at the very least, a facebook page and a twitter account. How you use them is going to depend on the type of business you have and what you would like to accomplish. Some of the most important moments of the year have been predicted or reported on twitter.

It saved lives on March 11 when reported that a Tsunami was going to hit the coast of northeast Japan in 15 minutes, and a family was found alive after a tweet giving their locations during the aftermath of the Turkish earthquake. Twitter has been able to report the news as it happens. Remember the local man in Abbottabad that reported a helicopter hovering over the predawn sky in Pakistan? He unknowingly was tweeting about Osama bin Laden’s raid.
It’s shared funny moments, like when Julia Probsta, deaf since childhood and huge soccer fan, reads the lips of the players and live tweets their comments during the game. It’s also united us, such as after the London riots when people rallied on twitter and facebook with a “brooms up” call to help clean up after the chaos. It has shared points of view, entertained and educated us on how small and fragile our world is, and most important, it has liberated us.

Your facebook/twitter is a great way to engage your consumer and have them become interactive with the brand. They can become cheerleaders, brand ambassadors and through word of mouth, your best asset. The challenge is to get them to care enough to want to “like” you, never-the-less get them to post on your wall and spread the news. Keep in mind there are many advantages to just listening to them and not really posting much about yourself. This works best for designers/brands. You really want to be able to understand the consumer in the most intimate way. They will tell you everything from what they had for lunch to where and how they like to shop. By finding friends on facebook or by using the # (hashtag) to find keys words that are important to you (and your business) you will start to follow and learn from a very specific target market. Think of it was a cyber focus group.

Getting them to care is really the most difficult part. At Dovetail Clothing we used my personal base of friends to send invites to “friend” the company. Some did some didn’t. We used the hashtag on twitter to find people that had a similar profile to our target market and started to follow them. We looked at who they follow and followed those people. There is an unwritten rule on twitter that if I follow you, you should follow me. You might notice that some people of an equal number of followers to following; to me this defeats the propose. Twitter isn’t a popularity contest and if you treat it as one you will soon regret it. So once you get a few followers it’s important to start an interesting stream of tweets. We have found that most followers will retweet or comment on your post early in the morning and in the evening. Once we get a few followers that we find to be “tribal” leaders we invite them to be our friend on facebook.

We have also tried to get them to have their friends like us. We offered a gift if they retweeted our post to be friends. We got 10 people to retweet. We had a tee shirt design contest where the winner would get $500 plus their name on the tee shirt label. We got zero response. We’ve done polls and asked questions all with very little response. “Is anyone out there?” was the daily question in our office? Then Irene hit. My retail location was flooded out. The first few days, I posted about its progress but soon I grew weary and stopped posting on the store’s facebook page. A week or two pasted by, when I started getting posting on the stores wall; “are you alright? When will the store reopen? Will you open in a different town?” Low and behold they are out there! I just didn’t really give them a good enough reason to want to post. Let’s face it, we are all time poor. Don’t ask me about those that play Farmville and Angry birds all day, but most of us don’t have time to check who’s doing what and when we are asked to answer anything that takes time, forget it. So I started to study those facebook sites that have incredible interaction to see what they had in common.
• They all address the good, the bad and the ugly in a timely and funny matter. Let’s face it, there is always going to be someone, somewhere that wasn’t happy with the product or service. You will win over more friends by how you handle the situation plus it’s just not credible to not have any negative comments.
• They educate and keep you informed. We are finding that 80/20 is the mix you want to keep with your social media. 80% should be fun or educational. On the Global Purchasing Companies facebook (and twitter which are linked saving time) I like to post retail business related stories. This saves my followers time in reading all the massive amounts of information since I have edited it. Great news is that now most stories offer an icon so you can link the story right to your social media of choice. 20% are postings of workshop dates and events I am speaking at.
• They give you special privileges, insider updates and discounts. Everyone wants to be the insider. By offering them limited addition items, early bird discounts before a sale and the “scoop” before it hits the press they feel they are part of a VIP group and more likely to “talk” about your brand.
• They create a little drama. Mattel woke up Barbie sales after a long slump. Barbie had just broken up with Ken and Bratz dolls where hitting Mattel’s bottom line. Mattel used the popularity of other websites to draw attention to the single Barbie and Ken by posting profiles on Fans were encouraged to vote if Barbie should take Ken back. All the voting could be done on the facebook page. Everyone likes playing match maker.
• They stand for a cause. Everyone likes the idea that they are contributing to a cause, but they consider it a “value added”. They don’t want to pay more or make a donation but they are more likely to pass on the information to a friend if you have an interesting talking point. You could offer a $1 donation to a charity of choice for every “like” the facebook page gets.

Emails are part of the whole social media world and it’s important that they look and are professional. Use a service like Constant Contact. They will help you put together your email blast, track it and also offers the clients receiving the emails the option to “op out” which is now the law to do so. Tracking is a key component to email marketing. You want to check who is opening your emails and who is passing them on (forward) to someone else.
So you might be asking yourself “do I even need a website?” The answer is yes. While facebook does offer some e-commerce, it’s limited and it doesn’t seem to be very effective. You are able to post items for sale on their “market place” or by adding a shopping tab on your tool bar. I have yet to have anyone click on anything I have posted for sale. The “big” brands seem to be more successful but what I found was a link from their facebook page to their website.

If you are planning on just using social media as a form of advertising, beware that it does cost money and it takes a lot of time to update. I suggest you take out ad’s with Google Ad Words to drive traffic to your site. I wouldn’t spend money on facebook ad’s that only get the person to “like” your page since I haven’t found evidence that the person liking the page will engage it right away.

A simple plan of action would be to run one email campaign a month. Most of it informative fashion tips, trends and brand reviews. Part of the email would be on what’s happening in the store, events and sales. Most services will tweet and facebook your email to those online but not on your email list. The informative part of your email then gets posted on your website. Side note- the more text (words) you have on your webpage the higher in ranking you go on Google. On your facebook page you’ll post photos from the past events encouraging all your customers to post their favorites. Send out daily tweets with fashion and celebrity news. Become the “go to” credible expert that your followers have come to rely on.