My friend owns a wholesale and online children’s clothing company based in Albuquerque, NM. They are proud to be a socially conscious company; for example, they use organic materials and contract with manufacturers that demonstrate fair labor practices.
They maintain a Facebook page as their main form of social media and use it to promote their sales; people who are Facebook friends of the company get to shop the sales early. They had many postings in the month of December to advertise warehouse sales and booths at local holiday shopping events. Otherwise, they seem to post about three or four times per month. They “like” customer comments which demonstrates that they are monitoring them, but they only respond to some of the customer questions. For example, there is a customer comment that complains about the price of shipping that goes unanswered. They also post encouragement to their Facebook friends to patronize the retail stores that stock their products.
A search for the company on Social Mention reveals not only some of the comments that people are making about the company but also which form of social media they are using to make the comments. Some people use Twitter to Tweet photos of products and links to products on Amazon.com. There are several reviews on Amazon of the products, and while the ratings are high, there are a few comments that could possibly be addressed, such as comments about colors not being exactly the same as portrayed in the catalogs and snaps that might come off the garments. The company does not respond to these comments.
While the company does not maintain a blog, the search on Social Mention revealed that there are many people who are mentioning the company in their blogs. One interesting blog post (http://mysentimentexactlee.com/2012/01/kiwi-industries-bert-and-ernie-tee-review-giveaway/) begins by raving about the products and then about the company itself. Then, the blog post explains the rules of a contest in which participants can enter a drawing by visiting the company’s website and then posting on the My Sentiment Exactlee blog a clothing item that they like. Because the prize is clothing from the company, presumably only people who like the products enter the contest, ensuring that all the comments are positive. Contestants can earn extra entries in the drawing by commenting on a MySentimentExactLee blog post, liking both the company and MySentimentExactLee on their Facebook pages, follow MySentimentExactLee on Twitter and Tweeting about the contest, and/or following the blog either through RSS or email subscription. These contest rules are an amazing way to draw attention, gain exposure, and elicit lots of positive comments for both the blog and the company. At the end of the blog post, there is this comment: “I received media sample. All opinions are my own.” It seems that perhaps my friend’s company does not need to maintain their own blog because other people are doing the blogging for them.
My friend’s company is small with only five people. Other than the Facebook page, they are not active in social media, possibly because social media can be so time-consuming. My friend recognizes that they probably should monitor what is being said on social media about the company, but as expected, they do not have enough time. Their target market is hip, socially conscious young parents, and I imagine that market is extremely techno-savvy. However, young parents are likely to be busy and exhausted (young children being even more time-consuming than social media is). Given this fact, Twitter would probably be a better choice of marketing tool than Facebook or blogging due to the ease of receiving Tweets even when you are busy. At first, it seems that social media is an effective and cheap way for small business owners to advertise. However, despite the power of social media to reach their target market, if the company employees are too strapped for time to maintain an active social media presence, it really isn’t a viable option.
I learned a little bit about Twitter in SJSU LIBR 282 Marketing Your LIS Skills in a Networked and Changing World, and now I will be trying it out for SJSU LIBR 246 Web 2.0. Much of my knowledge at this point comes from these two classes.
Scott Brown, my professor for LIBR 282 taught me that Twitter is a microblogging tool similar to text messaging. Well, I love text messaging, so I should love Twitter, right? He lists the advantages of Twitter, including price (free!); quick set-up; two-way communication; and ability to find and follow peers, thought leaders, potential customers, and locals. The course I took with Scott was about self-marketing, and he pointed out that Twitter can be used to Tweet your blog posts (reminder to self: Tweet this blog post…), list your specialties, etc.
Scott Brown’s steps to getting started: (1) sign up at http://www.twitter.com, (2) create some Tweets, and (3) start following people. OK, let’s get this party started: @AnnMcGinley1
Lindy Brown (no clue if she’s related to Scott) does a great job at giving an introduction and history of Twitter at Twittering Libraries. She also explains the pros and cons of libraries using Twitter. Ms. Brown writes: “Twitter is easy, fun, free to use, is a great marketing and public relations tool, allows for collaboration amongst staff and community, provides opportunities for professional developing and networking, has strength in its brevity, and allows libraries to meet many of their patrons ‘where they’re at.’” I especially like the fact that Twitter sends the message that a library is hip, proactive, and technologically savvy. It’s not just a place filled with dusty book shelves!
Ms. Brown also states: “While most libraries say there are few negatives to using Twitter, they do share some problems with the service: its brevity, the fact it hasn’t caught on with patrons quite yet, it’s another thing to update, fellow staff members are hesitant to use it, and the fact that it can be a time-waster. A few librarians mentioned technological problems as well.” In my previous blog post about library staff social media policy, I recognized that social media can be time-consuming, and staff work load will need to be redistributed to make time if a library is serious about using Twitter effectively. Knowing your patrons is also important to determine whether or not Twitter will appeal to them. Twitter will definitely be a time-waster if no patrons follow your Tweets. Ms. Brown does mention that the technological problems that were common when Twitter was new are less common now. It seems to me that as long as you have a patron base that embraces Twitter, the other negatives can be managed.
At this point, I don’t have much of my own opinion of Twitter because I only just created an account. Perhaps some people with more experience can enlighten me and extend this conversation by leaving some comments. Why do you love or hate Twitter? How do you use it, personally or professionally?