So, while I have not been blogging - I have been noticing a few things about what we have been doing and not doing with social networking and working on some cool tools that will hopefully make the tedium go away and my sparkling personality show through more (cough, cough). That said - with social networking - there is only one thing you need to think about before you start, or STOP RIGHT NOW what you are doing and see if you are Facebooking, Tweeting, digging, LinkedInning(?) in a way that is beneficial to your business...
Think about this... "Is your Social Networking plan consistent with your business plan?"
Now, most of us wrote a biz plan before we started up, or to quickly show what we do as a company... but boil down the wordiness and high hopes and bad market research to one thing... "What does your company do?" and then - "How do you do that online?"
We can use my company as an example. Funny, after over a year in business, saying "my company" sounds weird still. OK, I digress, the coffee is starting to work. Gather Wine Bar is just that, a wine bar from the outside. But from the inside it's a cool little place that:
- Customers feel Gather is "theirs" (they bring in their own food, even though we serve food, they move furniture, they have weddings, funeral gatherings, first dates, last dates (ergh) and get engaged here...
- Musicians feel they can do what they want here - new things, old things, things they have always wanted to try - some musicians play for the first time, some come after a world tour.
- Winemakers can get to know their fans on a different level - with a glass in their hand.
- Where we live is showcased - from the local wines, to the locals who come back time after time
- Some people come in looking like they just finished a big construction project, and others dressed for the opera and it's all ok.
- I get to experiment with my cooking skills on unsuspecting customers and they seem to like it.
- We get to say YES more than NO
- We throw a cocktail party every night - and want to do it for a very long time.
Gather is a comfortably elegant place for visitors and locals to laugh, mingle, party, play and enjoy each other with local Central Coast wines, winemakers, music and tasty wine-friendly Gather-made food.Not great as a mission statement, but we will go with it for now ;-)
So how does that pair with Social Networking tools and sites? Well, here's how I do it...
- Facebook - I have a group, a fan page and a personal page. My focus for each is different, but all of them keep the mission statement in mind. We try to communicate that Gather is what that message says without boring the crap out of everyone.
- We are migrating people from the group to a fan page. This is pretty unsuccessfully so far so remember, people don't like change, and once you do something online, or in your business, it takes a big effort to change a first impression. We didn't serve food the first couple months we were open, and people still act surprised that we do a year later.
- The group constantly points back to the Fan page we would like to have people look at.
- The Fan page talks about the cool things happening at Gather and soon it will:
- Engage people with polls
- Have coupons
- Post menus and new food items
- My personal page is just that. It's stuff about me, what I am doing (which is often Gather), eating, drinking, who I am with at the moment... Important note though, it is 90% positive. I am a business woman. People who are my friends on FB are customers or potential customers. Bad days are not shared on FB and if they slip in, they get deleted. We all like to "know the owner" and as a small business owner - I don't have half the time available to me that I should to go to events and promote my business. FB allows me to be all over my county, and across the country all at once. I do live a charmed life in the wine industry, but no one needs to hear about the cleanup after St. Patrick's day. No one.
- This is all bursts of information telling everyone what is going on, what is being served at Gather, who is playing at Gather, big events, news links to industry information, or general silliness about Gather or wine.
- The messages are different than FB. This is so important. I have people following in all my postings - I want that - I get to say something to them several times a day. If I bore them they will hide, unfriend or delete me. Where else can you have 4+ mediums to tell someone about your business passively?
- Foursquare - it's stalker twitter... where am I RIGHT NOW... silliness, but I like it - lends to the charmed life, and explains my waistline - I only eat and drink when I am not at Gather :) People like it though, it is competitive, but conversational - it's neat, more to come on using this tool because I just dig it.
I own a small business, in a small town. FaceBook, twitter, foursquare and the others really make the world a much smaller place. When you were a kid, your mom knew what you did on the street on the way home before you got in the back door. Social networking does the same thing as your mom's spy network, make it a good thing, welcome them into your business and your "business" and you will find the secret of how to make a local small business work in this economy and world of Walmarts and Home Depot's... it's YOU.