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?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.
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.