Social Networks ... I finally see the light!

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Completely off topic today, but something Im sure nearly all of you use. Social networks, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, the list goes on, I'm sure you are using at least one. Jake over at the lab has been a great flag bearer for the genre. I on the other hand have been somewhat skeptical, there are probably posts over on the lab proving so. Yep, Im a dinosaur, even my kids tell me so and I listen to more modern new fangled music than they do.

I have to admit, I have a twitter account, not much used. A facebook account, more used but mainly down to the ease of posting something via my trusty but horribly cracked iPhone (that's another story) Its been great to keep up with current friends and colleagues and find old school buddies and catch up, its fun but then what? That's kinda where my interest wains...

That is until this past week. Back in March my wife opened an ice cream shop in our town, its more of a village, blink and you miss it. The shop has an accompanying website cos Im geeky like that - I think we are the only shop in the vill ... town to have one. We get hits and comments and I write a blog for it posting pictures, news, etc. Our advertising budget is not huge so print media for the most part is out and 'sadly' except for Leslie and her WSJ subscription, who reads a paper these daze?

What about online advertising? I'm skeptical of that too, I make a point of blocking the common hosting servers that slow web pages while down loading their ads. I ignore them if they do get through. A quick straw poll and I found that most of my friends ignore them. So what alternatives are there?

My wife is a huge Facebook fan, so many friends and to my mind spends far too long on it :0) Rather like the pot calling the kettle black I suppose. Her computer skills have improved immensely since using it thou, so I should not complain. She still hits the button or icon 5 or 6 times if the reaction is not instant; makes for some fun trying to close 20 windows on a laptop that has been brought to its knees by 20 copies of Adobe Illustrator being opened at the same time :0)

I spotted 'fan' pages on FB a few weeks back and thought what better way to get some 'viral' exposure for the business in the surrounding area. My kids 'Facebook' too and they spend even more time on it than my wife, that's when they are not texting of course.

Its not going to cost me a bean so I duly started putting together the fan page (still working on some custom FBML content.) But we are now posting updates, pictures, getting to the videos and some freebies for the more motivated.

I then invited all of my wife's friends to become fans; within the week we were up to 50, admittedly some were from the UK, Canada and California which was not so good but its still useful. Why useful? Because of the viral nature of Facebook, even if the first fans are remote, they have friends that see them 'fanning' the shop, so they fan the shop. And so it goes on, eventually (I hope) getting back to folks in our area who may not know about the shop. How many degrees of separation are facebookers apart? We are just starting to break out of the 'friends' stage with fans that we do not know. Some from afar but others closer, so its starting.

Facebook, seems to have finally found it revenue stream in offering to target likely fans on their page with an ad on the right hand side of the page. Having already poo poo'ed online advertising earlier I dont think we'll be going there. Facebook does offer some great profiling thou, they know so much about users that I can run an add to 'male/female teenagers that live in our nearest town and like ice cream' ... awesome stuff!
They do have another cool feature that I do want to use. Im going to need my sons' help and their nasty texting habit. They do not know this yet but they will be texting their 100's of friends to text FB to become fans of the shop, if they so wish.
This is my master plan for world ice cream shop domination, getting more fans and the fans we want; ice cream eating fans that will nag their parents to bring them in.

This is all great but how about getting updates out there, we can move over to the fan page as administrators but what about other content?

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I created a 'twitter' account for the shop too, hey its free and 'real' people will find you, I think we boast more followers on twitter (excluding the scantily clad bots that seem to plague every twitter account) than fans on FB.
Twitter is not on my wife's radar at the moment so we needed some way to get her shop FB updates out as tweets. Facebook does that for you, even from a fan page now, easy. To take it a stage further I wanted to be able to write a blog posting from our Wordpress install, get that to FB and then out as a tweet. That took some finding but there is a plugin out there that almost does it. With a little tweaking I can now write a blog posting, hit a button to publish to FB and then FB pushes it out to twitter. Perfect!

I have finally seen the light, at least for my wife's business. For other bigger companies, maybe yours? The likes of Coca Cola and others boast huge numbers of fans, that kind of product awareness is invaluable ... every little helps I say! We'll be pushing as hard as possible into the social networking frontier for our little shop.

Comments:

I have always felt too old for Facebook, Myspace and all of these other social sites. Besides my wife, I can't think of anyone I know that doesn't participate in Facebook these days, I feel like an outsider - but most days I am happy with that. I am curious how this experiment goes for you. Keep us updated.

Posted by Tony on November 17, 2009 at 05:26 AM MST #

Tim, I'm a big fan of Mr. Kuramoto as well...he talked me into using Twitter last summer when I had lost my job (one of many times in fact). I've become a huge convert...especially as it relates to work. I even submitted an abstract to ODTUG for next year's conference, "How To User Social Media to Increase Productivity" I don't know if it will be accepted or not, but it's worth a shot. I think you are utilizing FB the way you should (with the fan page). It's truly amazing what can come from the seemingly mundane... Good luck in your Social Media endeavors (and if you ever need any advice, I'd be happy to help in whatever way possible). chet

Posted by chet on November 17, 2009 at 12:51 PM MST #

Nice Tim! I like the post. In FB, I always feel like you are in a town fiesta with everyone trying to listen in to everyone's conversations. A dinosaur with a blog? I for one would be interested to test that Wordpress-FB plugin but I'm not sure I would want all my WP entries to go automatically to FB. I have the FB-Twitter turned off bec. I didnt want my tweets to be public and it doesn't let FB connect if you're not public. jennie

Posted by Jennie on November 17, 2009 at 11:45 PM MST #

Did someone say my name? Sounds like a fun project. I've seen a lot of local businesses use Twitter (and foursquare recently) to advertise deals to followers. That's pretty common now, e.g. Dana White tweets his location when he has free UFC tickets to give away, people follow that taco cart in LA to see where it is, etc. etc. With a small local customer base, it might be nice to branch out into nearby places with deals, or you could do a giveaway that can be given-away, using people's extended networks to reach locals. Lots of possibilities. Have fun and good luck.

Posted by Jake on November 18, 2009 at 01:33 AM MST #

I enjoyed reading on your site , it's full with lot of information. You have found one constant visitor and a fan of this webiste.

Posted by aged beauty on November 25, 2009 at 04:55 PM MST #

We have worked to create the most solid and helpful site with lots of information on this.

Posted by kidandteen.org on December 20, 2009 at 03:16 PM MST #

Yet another site on this???? Naahh! The only site that will give you the complete lowdown on this. You need look no further for information and resources.

Posted by kidandteen on December 20, 2009 at 03:21 PM MST #

Love this little netbook. It is just perfect for getting my email and surfing the web since I cannot do this at work. I use it in my "woman cave" where I do all my crafting and painting.

Posted by Samuel Mellos on December 26, 2009 at 01:32 AM MST #

I completely agree with the above comment, the internet is with a doubt growing into the most important medium of communication across the globe and its due to sites like this that ideas are spreading so quickly.

Posted by Trang Gundy on January 05, 2010 at 07:31 PM MST #

Impressive . There is always room for better but at the end of the day it still looks great!.

Posted by allfreevectors on May 06, 2010 at 02:19 AM MDT #

Thanks for the post, was very helpful. Had a few questions though... whats the best way to contact you??

Posted by Russeph on July 18, 2010 at 04:00 PM MDT #

Interesting stuff you talk about here. Nearly a 1 sided argument don't you think?

Posted by MrsDonut on July 30, 2010 at 02:21 AM MDT #

I essentially resolved to just say screw the issue of hanging around months and years for a respectable following and used a twitter followers company to obtain me 1k followers. They actually have all stuck around and I've obtained 40 retweets in the prior 7 days, 40 additional than I had ever experienced previously. Delight. Really though there are a heap of these kinds of people around, but I considered them professional. Also you will discover some absolutely free programs and such in other areas however I'm not really a engineer so cannot use them.

Posted by Monika Wehrly on August 28, 2010 at 09:33 AM MDT #

I essentially resolved to just say screw the issues of hanging around months and years for a decent following and made use of a twitter followers program to get me 1k followers. They actually have all stuck around and I've obtained 40 retweets in the most recent weeks time, 40 more than I had ever acquired before. Bliss. Really though there are a bundle of these guys to choose from, but I considered them skilled. Also you will find some no cost programs and such in other areas however I am not a engineer so cannot rely on them.

Posted by Leona Tung on August 28, 2010 at 10:07 AM MDT #

Sigh, I am just hooked to twitter readers nowadays. They seriously don't do very much for me, however it just simply allows me a content experience on the inside realizing that persons are in fact, well perhaps reading through what I write about.

Posted by Shirley Testolin on August 28, 2010 at 10:36 AM MDT #

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