Saturday, October 31, 2009

It does not take Social Media to Create a Following

Many marketing "gurus" have thrown all of their chips on Social Media and have spun the roulette wheel of success. While for some companies it has hit, for many (if not most) it has missed.

The main goals of Social Media in regards to commercialization is to reach new customers and maintain repeat customers by starting a conversation, building a personal relationship, and establishing a following. While I agree that all of these goals are excellent and can be very important to companies, especially national and international brands, I do NOT think that Social Media is always the best path for obtaining these goals.

I hear small business owners being told they need to start a blog, a twitter account, and a facebook fan page. Really? Do they?

Sure, I don't think it will hurt anything if they do, but I can think of better ways to spend your money and your time.

Lets look at one of my favorite restaurants in Indianapolis: Yats. Yats is a Cajun Creole Restaurant founded by Joe Vuskovich. First off, Yats offers fantastic food, cheap prices, and a fun New Orleans atmosphere. However, those qualities alone will not guarantee success, let alone a following.

Yats's success stems directly from Joe. Half the time I visit Yats (which is almost weekly), I will see Joe. He is not acting like a boss or an owner... he is opening the door for people. Bringing their food. Taking orders. And socializing with the local patrons. This is where the personal relationship begins. If Joe spent his time writing blog posts, I am sure he would get some followers... but his following would not be as large or as personal as the relationships he is building each day by being there in person.

Joe's personality has spread throughout the entire organization. The staff does an excellent job of being friendly and remembering repeat customers. This is key, when you come and are recognized you feel as though you are part of the group. You belong here, you are member of the Yats family. It makes you want to come back, to bring your friends, and to leave healthy tips.

The thing that keeps coming back to my mind is that you are treated as a friend instead of a customer. A prime example of this is that I visited a month ago and forgot my money. I about left the line, but they said not to worry about it, just get them back the next time. Seriously? They didn't even take my name, number, or amount I owed them. They just handed me my food and said they trusted me. Wow! Immediately after lunch I got some money and made sure I left a hefty tip.

The point of all this is that you can build personal relationships, conversations, and a following without starting a Blog, Twitter Account, or fan page. In fact, those tools should be used secondary... your primary focus should be how do you run your business. Are you running through the motions or are you building friendships?

If you are a business owner who is currently thinking about starting a blog, stop immediately. What could you be doing in your store to create a following? What can you be doing to start conversations? What can you be doing to create personal relationships?


mike adams said...

mark, i really liked this post. it's nice to be reminded of this kind of thing, and it's especially nice to hear it coming from a friend in the technology business. i appreciate your thoughts on personal contact and how it usually trumps internet presence (especially on a small scale). i can relate!

also, i think i'm going to go to this show tonight in indy

Handcrafter said...

I agree with Mike's comment. Why is it that whenever a new play becomes available, we all think we MUST make that play? No tool is suited to every job. Thanks Mark.

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