Using Social Media In Your Business?

Business By crushed Updated 24 May 2011 , 8:47pm by jason_kraft

crushed Posted 23 May 2011 , 1:23pm
post #1 of 36

I know most of us have a Facebook page and/or a website to promote our business, but have any of you used Twitter for your business? Do you blog about your business? What level of time/effort to you put towards using the internet and social media to expand your business?
TIA!

crushed

35 replies
jason_kraft Posted 23 May 2011 , 1:57pm
post #2 of 36

We actually don't use FB except as a placeholder page that links to our real web site, I find the FB page design to be too limiting, and the quality of leads from Google and Yelp is superior. We don't blog either, but we do use twitter as a replacement for a mailing list, so we can announce new products, events, etc. on the twitter feed as often as we want without having to worry about spamming people.

Other than establishing our web site and our page on Yelp and Google Places (and buying some Google AdWords when we first started up) we really don't spend a lot of time on the web and social media, with word of mouth our business is pretty much self-sustaining now.

indydebi Posted 23 May 2011 , 3:11pm
post #3 of 36

As my friend who runs a social media consulting biz told me.....

Twitter is for announcements. Non-interactive. Keeps your name there. MIGHT drive people to your website.

FB is to get folks to be interactive and drive biz to your website. i.e. "Which of these two cakes should be our June special? Vote for your favorite." or "We're having a debate on our favorite cupcake flavors. What do YOU like?"

Blogging is your opportunity to showcase your expertise; to be or to become an authority in the field.

costumeczar Posted 24 May 2011 , 12:05am
post #4 of 36

Twitter can be used to drive people to your website if you use links in your posts. The thing about twitter that most people don't get is that you have to be active on it in order to get anything out of it. If all you do is go on there and talk about your business nobody will follow you. It's about a 90% non-business, 10% business balance. I've found a lot of other cake decorators who I wouldn't have found on twitter, but it doesn't get me a lot of new business directly. What it DOES get is publicity if other people pass on your tweets to people who are blogging, etc. I've had cakes featured on several blogs because of "meeting" people on twitter, and I've found lots of guest bloggers for my blog because of twitter.

facebook is where the customers, especially brides, are these days. It's so easy to just hop on and update your page, make announcements, etc. You have to be active on there, too, though. It's frustrating to see a page that hasn't been updated in a month or more.

The goal of all of these should be to drive customers to your website, so you need to design your facebook page etc to make sure your website link is front and center. One mistake that I see people make is that they don't list their site prominently enough.

jason_kraft Posted 24 May 2011 , 1:00am
post #5 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar

Twitter can be used to drive people to your website if you use links in your posts. The thing about twitter that most people don't get is that you have to be active on it in order to get anything out of it. If all you do is go on there and talk about your business nobody will follow you.



It depends...if you are posting something relevant to an existing community, you can use hashtags to reach out to a huge number of people in that community who are more likely to retweet your post to their followers, and so on.

For example, when we announce a new gluten-free product, we include the hashtags #glutenfree and #celiac, so the tweet will appear to anyone searching for one of those two topics, even if they don't directly follow your feed.

More info on hashtags:
http://support.twitter.com/entries/49309-what-are-hashtags-symbols

costumeczar Posted 24 May 2011 , 1:44am
post #6 of 36

You should also use a local hastag along with that, too, unless you want to mail-order your product!

But if you're not active on a consistent basis and all you do is go on to sell stuff, people tend to distrust that. Twitter is about building a little community for yourself and having conversations with other people. Twitter users tend to dismiss people who come across as salesmen all the time.

tryingcake Posted 24 May 2011 , 2:54am
post #7 of 36

I have a twitter account and haven't used it in at least 1 year and a half. I know, I maybe should. I just didn't really know what top put.

"Baking Mary's Lemon cake now - boy does it smell good!!"

I don't know - just felt like it was a waste of time and I just didn't have time to keep it up and FB and other stuff. I have decided to just keep the FB going.

I do have the same type of posts on my FB page and I get positive feed back for that from the clients. I also get business through FB. But 85% of my business comes from my website and PartyPop . com

jason_kraft Posted 24 May 2011 , 3:17am
post #8 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by tryingcake

I have a twitter account and haven't used it in at least 1 year and a half. I know, I maybe should. I just didn't really know what top put.

"Baking Mary's Lemon cake now - boy does it smell good!!"



That would probably be more appropriate for a FB post (if it needed to be posted at all).

We probably post on our twitter feed an average of once a month or so, usually to announce new products, limited time products (i.e. holiday specials), sales, events we will be attending, and so on.

If you have a retail shop you can be more creative...if business is slow, post on twitter that you will be giving away a free mini-cupcake to the next 30 people who stop by. Or if you do custom cakes only and you find some holes in your schedule where you're idle, you can offer one-time-only discounts to fill those holes.

tryingcake Posted 24 May 2011 , 4:13am
post #9 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft

Quote:
Originally Posted by tryingcake

I have a twitter account and haven't used it in at least 1 year and a half. I know, I maybe should. I just didn't really know what top put.

"Baking Mary's Lemon cake now - boy does it smell good!!"


That would probably be more appropriate for a FB post (if it needed to be posted at all).




Personally - I don't think it needs to be posted at all - but people seem to really enjoy it. LOL - whatever......

i d I do what you suggest, isn't that going against what others have said - just sounding like a salesman? Again, confused here - why else would I twitter - but to sell? What else would you post except to sell things?

jason_kraft Posted 24 May 2011 , 4:18am
post #10 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by tryingcake

i d I do what you suggest, isn't that going against what others have said - just sounding like a salesman? Again, confused here - why else would I twitter - but to sell? What else would you post except to sell things?



IMHO there's nothing wrong with using a twitter feed solely for business purposes, as long as you are offering something your customer base wants. If you use your twitter feed to constantly post ads to unrelated sites in the hopes of collecting some ad revenue (yes, some people do this) you will become known as a spammer, but you shouldn't feel guilty about talking up your business and making relevant announcements on your feed (just as you wouldn't feel guilty about doing so in a regular email newsletter).

tryingcake Posted 24 May 2011 , 4:25am
post #11 of 36

OK - I agree with that. I just didn't understand some of the other posts.

scp1127 Posted 24 May 2011 , 5:23am
post #12 of 36

I am getting ready to make the twitter commitment in the next month. I have read books, studied, and consulted with my web designer. As Jason and costumeczar has commented, there is a lot to doing it correctly. The sales only avenue is not the way to go on twitter. And if you are serious, the commitment needs to be there to stay with it. I agree that the "give something" approach is important and is the way I plan to go.

jason_kraft Posted 24 May 2011 , 5:44am
post #13 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by scp1127

The sales only avenue is not the way to go on twitter.



Can you expand on this statement, and the differences between the sales only avenue and the twitter strategy you are using?

scp1127 Posted 24 May 2011 , 6:26am
post #14 of 36

I am by far no expert on twitter. As I stated, I have studied it to death and am only going to start when I am sure I know what I am doing. First, I will give the names of some great books that I have read and learned some of these strategies.

The Thank You Economy, Gary Vaynerchuk
UnMarketing, Stratten
Content Rules, Hadley and Chapman

There is another one that deals with content and social media, but my husband took it out of town with him. I can't remember the name.

Jason, these books are in line with your business, especially businesses that have a niche market. Mine is a small, niche market too. The basic idea is to be helpful when people ask questions and to have the "give" approach instead of the "get" approach. That is why I am starting that scratch forum. My husband is a doctor and I have gotten him on board with the same marketing approach. That poor guy has to spend more money every time I figure out how to deal with this new marketing approach that is available on the web. Answer questions and establish yourself as someone who is "an" expert in the field of your business. The idea is that you are not "the" expert, but you have knowledge that you are willing to share. You have links to your site, but you don't push it. It's just there. All of that knowledge you share here could be put to use to promote your own business and establish yourself as a go-to person.

I strongly suggest those books. I will pm you the other one when I give you that other info in June. I am a small business just like yours, but I have bigger plans. Your baby is new but my three girls want me to expand my business to include them in various capacities. I don't do anything without researching it to death and making sure I begin correctly. There is so much opportunity today to market for free if you put all of the effort in it yourself. I have mentioned many times that I used to own a marketing company. I closed it in 2000 when I got the opportunity to expand my construction company. I worked as a sub for a large home builder, so no need for marketing. In those 11 years, everything has changed. I have spent many long hours catching up on current marketing trends and I feel like I am getting a grasp on them. Again, I will not launch my fb and twitter programs until I am sure I have it right. I just finished an e-commerce site and that was a huge job. My husband uses the same web designer. He gets them to do everything. I asked for the skeleton and I built the site with their guideance. Now I have decided to sell cupcakes on the site and I don't have enough pictures. So twitter will have to wait until June. Lots of lucky people will be getting cupcake samples in the next two weeks while I get my pictures.

This business with all of the new marketing opportunities is very exciting to me. I'm having a blast re-learning and creating this business "from Scratch".

Edit: The other book is, New Rules of Marketing and PR, by David Merrman Scott

tryingcake Posted 24 May 2011 , 4:09pm
post #15 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft

Quote:
Originally Posted by scp1127

The sales only avenue is not the way to go on twitter.


Can you expand on this statement, and the differences between the sales only avenue and the twitter strategy you are using?




I agree and this has been my point all along. Only an idiot won't understand that even if I "give" it's ultimately to get you to BUY. Anyway you look at it, you are being a salesman and pushing your business. Is twitter only for marketing to idiots who don't get this? I hardly think so.

So far nothing I have read here is not marketing your business. Everything is absolutely marketing your business... period. Even come in for free donuts is marketing your business. And anyone over the age of 15 knows this.

scp1127 Posted 24 May 2011 , 4:31pm
post #16 of 36

tryingcake, I think you missed my point. This is very involved and cannot be explained on this post. It must be studied to a degree. It is all about giving back and earning a sale as an aside. I have worked on it for a long time and I'm a former marketing company owner. It is definitely a learned skill.

Update: My web designer emailed me that my twitter button is now on my front page as of this morning. Well, I'd better get started. Nothing like diving in. I guess I'm as ready as I will ever be. I just need to get those cupcake pictures done.

jason_kraft Posted 24 May 2011 , 4:43pm
post #17 of 36

I had actually experimented with a more interactive approach through forums on FB a few years ago, and it didn't really work out. In my case, the niche market for food allergies already had an established Yahoo group focusing on the SF Bay area with a critical mass of members, so instead of trying to compete I ended up joining the group and contributing there.

It may be difficult to gain traction with a new scratch baking forum given the existing sites you are competing against -- including CC -- but if you emphasize the local aspect of the forum and tie the experience to real-world meetups you can offer something unique.

scp1127 Posted 24 May 2011 , 5:09pm
post #18 of 36

I'm hoping for the forum to be more local. People ask me questions all the time because they don't know anyone who scratch bakes. I have a group that knows about it coming. I don't care how fast it grows. I have my hands in quite a few things with a new business. I would rather be thorough. The full e-commerce thing is going to keep me busy. I have a small retail spot already, but I'm putting that on the back burner.

I didn't know where your location was in CA. I guess that would be tougher, but joining is important too. I still believe that it starts with a voice, and you have a lot of information that you can give. Look at it like my husband's medical forum. He will start with his patients. Then others will join. He started giving out his email and text number to his sicker patients. He is constantly on the phone texting patients. This is where I got the idea for him to put these conversations online. Instead of one patient, he has the opportunity to reach more with the same symptoms.

We are in the infancy stage in both of our businesses in this area. My best advice is to study and see if any of the social media plans work for you. But once you start, don't stop.

jason_kraft Posted 24 May 2011 , 5:17pm
post #19 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by scp1127

Look at it like my husband's medical forum. He will start with his patients. Then others will join. He started giving out his email and text number to his sicker patients. He is constantly on the phone texting patients. This is where I got the idea for him to put these conversations online. Instead of one patient, he has the opportunity to reach more with the same symptoms.



This is a little off-topic, but wouldn't you run into HIPAA issues discussing patients' medical issues on an online forum?

costumeczar Posted 24 May 2011 , 6:17pm
post #20 of 36

There are a couple of approaches to using twitter, but it's a SOCIAL network, not just for advertising. You can use it to announce specials, new products, etc. to a target market, which sounds like what Jason is doing, or use it to connect with other people who have similar interests. Or do both.

You have to be consistent and build a network, though, because without a group of people who follow your tweets, you're spinning your wheels. You can tweet as much as you want, but if nobody is following your feed you're wasting your time. To get followers you have to follow other people who also have your similar interests.

Business Twitter users tend to be either hardcore marketers, or people who are on there for business but use the social aspect of it to expand their network of business contacts. To get direct business from twitter you'd have to have customers follow your tweets, then offer specials or make announcements about what you're selling. I know of one bakery that uses it that way and it does bring them foot traffic.

I don't have a storefront, so the way that I use twitter is more of the social network building. Like I've said, I have people on twitter who have "gotten to know me" through reading my tweets, and when they need some photos for their blogs or an expert to quote in an article, they've tweeted me about it. That's gotten me some press, so it works out that it does benefit my business. I'm just not doing the hard sell to get that advantage.

If the only thing that you do on twitter is to advertise and sell sell sell, most twitter users will get tired of you. If you're trying to appeal to a very niche local market that would make sense to use it that way, but it won't appeal to most people. Twitter is kind of the least formal of the three things we're talking about...Website is the most formal, then facebook, then twitter is the most casual. If that makes any sense...

scp1127 Posted 24 May 2011 , 6:35pm
post #21 of 36

Jason, this is not uncharted territory. Many physicians are doing it. The anonymity of the poster, or the fact that the physician knows the actual person is evidently not a problem. He has lawyers for everything. Over the years, he has poineered a few new concepts and he has been advised correctly. In this one, there are many who have already started forums. I think it will be kept light or moved to a private conversation.

tryingcake Posted 24 May 2011 , 7:28pm
post #22 of 36

Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, you guys are describing is flat out selling your business. Call it what you want, but it's simply selling your business. I have no issue with doing that. I think it's funny some people won't call a rose a rose.

When you give something free - we all know it's not one bit free - and any half-brained customer knows this.... the cost is built in somewhere, even if it's in "advertising expense". It's all covered somewhere under our overhead. We are giving "free" things in hopes to gain more business.

A rose is a rose is a rose. Call it what you want, but it's still a rose. I'm not missing any point what-so-ever. It's called business. I am in business to make hard cash - any networking I do is in hopes of gaining more cash. And anyone who is in a For Profit business for any other reason is ultimately lying.

costumeczar Posted 24 May 2011 , 7:35pm
post #23 of 36

Whoa, tryingake, relax! Of course it's all part of marketing your business, I don't think anyone's saying that it isn't. But there are different ways to do it and different tools to do it. I don't get customers so much as business contacts from twitter, so I'm not necessarily selling product on it, but I definitely do it for business.

It's the people on twitter whose tweets consist solely of "Buy my XYZ product that will change your life" who are missing the point of twitter. They're taking the direct approach, but twitter users generally tend to dismiss those tweets as spam. They want a relationship, not an ad, first.

Dizzymaiden Posted 24 May 2011 , 7:46pm
post #24 of 36

I use social media this way:

FB: to share more personal stories..such as a picture of a pie in my kitchen in progress

Twitter: retweeting other bakeries interesting information as well as other food related tweets. Example of a retweet: FoodiesofNE Foodies of NE
Beef Tenderloin w/ Mustard Cognac, & Chocolate Brioche Bread Pudding? Thank you, Chef Tommasso of Peppercorn's! http://bit.ly/jWtJ3l

I don't usual tweet my own stuff unless I know it will be a "good read" to other like minded individuals.

Tumblr: this is my blog-where I share recipe's and reblog interesting food and DIY stuff.

My blog is the most popular item of the day - almost 2,000 followers - BUT it does NOT drive business, so it is mostly for fun and networking.

I don't have a website dedicated to baking...yet.

Does this help?

costumeczar Posted 24 May 2011 , 7:50pm
post #25 of 36

[quote="Dizzymaiden"]

My blog is the most popular item of the day - almost 2,000 followers - BUT it does NOT drive business, so it is mostly for fun and networking.

[quote]

What's your blog? I bet I know...

costumeczar Posted 24 May 2011 , 7:54pm
post #26 of 36

Maybe I'm wrong, though, now I'm second-guessing myself!

scp1127 Posted 24 May 2011 , 8:01pm
post #27 of 36

tryingcake, we are all saying the same thing. I'm sorry we are not explaining it correctly.

Dizzymaiden, it sounds like you have some blog. If you are interested, I'd like to read it. You can pm me if you want. And you may want to stay away from all business and personal on CC. You can see I do. Either way is fine, but it sure sounds interesting.

Dizzymaiden Posted 24 May 2011 , 8:03pm
post #28 of 36

costumeczar - just followed you on Twitter!

Your blog is more involved than mine - which I am thinking of revamping.

Oh - another really great social media tool is YouTube! I can't tell you how many bakers show "how to" tutorials that are awesome! Not only do I subscribe to them I end up at their website and sometimes buy stuff.

Example:


costumeczar Posted 24 May 2011 , 8:10pm
post #29 of 36

Youtube is good, too, I don't use it as much as I should.

What is everyone's twitter handles? I'll follow everyone if I don't already.

jason_kraft Posted 24 May 2011 , 8:16pm
post #30 of 36

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