In last week’s post, the first part of this article was published. You can see that article by clicking on 1 http://blog.ctnews.com/zahn/2012/05/29/social-media-and-small-business-part-1/ or just scrolling down to the prior article. The continuation of the interview appears below:
3. What are some of the caveats or “watch-outs” to be aware of in using social media (whether it is frequency of communication, type of communications, use of humor, handling complaints posted, etc.)?
Just like when you purchase something online, you need to use security measures with your brand. Accounts can be hacked like your e-mail account. That is a huge mess to clean up and try explaining to your customers. I encourage you to share up to date news, photos, inspiration, etc with your fans. Customers love to connect. I think we crave those connections even more that we use so much technology. It’s not always about the sale pitch. Quality web content attracts the right kind of customer. Be straight to the point in service and product descriptions. Don’t post fluff, potential customers will be turned off by the unnecessary info and get bored. Never publicly rant or vent, especially about a customer. This will never be well received and you will look petty. Save the complaining for coffee with a good friend.
4. What tools you recommend to track performance in social media (coupon redemption rates, sales increases, “likes” or “fans” or others)?
There are many sites that allow you to track your online performance across multiple platforms like HootSuite. I’ve been using YourBuzz which is still in Beta. You can post one status from there and it will publish simultaneously to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. YourBuzz sends me a weekly update of how many new Facebook fans, Twitter mentions and followers. But I use Facebook daily so I track those stats regularly. I used Google Adwords earlier in my business and appreciated being able to adjust keywords, budget and ad content depending on what was going on in my business at the time. Overstock? Time to run a sale. But now that I am more established and have a higher rank in organic listings, I have scaled back my Adwords budget.
5. How do you create a “list” for contacting (do you have multiple lists? Do they differ based on geography, previous purchases, other?)? Do you “buy” lists from list brokers? Do you have an opinion/experience on using them?
I have never purchased a list per se. The two marketing choices I’ve made that I regret were to dip my toe in direct marketing. When I first opened Gumdrop Swap in 2010, I paid $400 for a tiny ad in the back of a publication that was mostly distributed in OB/GYN offices or given to new moms leaving the hospital. It made total sense at the time. A great way to reach my target audience. But I was more interested in the email addresses that I would be given from moms that subscribed to their website. I may have gotten one customer out of it. Then, I bombed again when I agreed to run an ad with coupon in Welcome Wagon, an ad book that gets delivered to new home owners in the zip codes you specify. I agreed to try it for six months and it took me an additional six months to break the contract, due to all the fine print the sales person glazed over. Again, no customers. Welcome Wagon provided the mailing addresses of those that had received the book. They encouraged me to follow up with another direct mailing. I know how I feel about unsolicited (junk) mail, so I decided to just cut my losses. For some industries, buying a list may make sense, but they proved to be a poor decision for me. I have a widget on my home page that allows people to sign up to receive my newsletter. I do an e-blast about every two months. I also collect email addresses of my swappers. They give this willingly because they want to know what’s going on with the business.
As a reminder; Gabby is competing for a small business grant being sponsored by Chase and LivingSocial. The grants are being awarded through their Mission: Small Business contest.To qualify, a business must get a minimum of 250 votes from Facebook users. Should GumDrop Swap win the grant; it would be used to move into a larger storefront on Main St which would allow the business to better serve customers. Readers are encouraged to go to http://www.missionsmallbusiness.com/ and click “log-in & support”, then search for “Gumdrop Swap” in the search bar to vote (no need to enter city/state), then click “vote”.