“If you don’t like change, you are going to like irrelevance even less.” George Shinseski
Ouch! It seems like every garden center show or meeting I go to is populated primarily with older business owners trying to keep family businesses solvent in a time of wildly changing business principles. A lot of the old rules have been thrown out the window and its hard to even begin to keep up with an ever changing landscape of new ways of doing business. One of the most important changes to business has been the use of the internet and social media. Just about the time we are all getting used to using email instead of the telephone, along comes Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn; and now and we are all supposed to be out there twittering, blogging, befriending, linking and otherwise spending an unbelievable amount of time fiddling around with computers- and we thought competing with Walmart was our biggest challenge!
We are increasingly asked to adapt to change faster. In half the time it took to get used to using email rather than the phone, we are expected to understand and use social media such as Facebook. Kyle Lacy is a young, social media marketing expert who helps business owners of all kinds market and brand their business using social media. The first thing he points out is that business owners should be using social media for one hour per day. In a day already crowded with responsibilities this may be too much to ask of a garden center business owner, espcially in spring! The tendency is for business owners to delegate this task to the most social media savvy employee they have – who just might be the teen age nephew – but probably not someone with real marketing and branding know how. Being productive with social media means spending the time necessary to either learn how to use it effectively or hiring someone to do it for you. TheIGCA trade show had several marketing and media consultants ready and waiting to help garden center ownders set up and operate websites, Facebook, Twitter, online newslettersr and whatever else comes down the computer pike! From online catalogs and purchasing to newsletters, inventory control and customer databases, the computer can be your best friend or your worst enemy! Consider the fact that 800 million people use Facebook and you as a business owner want to get them to to advocate your business and brand for you! Social media can be used to create a unique brand for your store and a relationship with customers that separates you the independent, from them, the discount chain store.
Think about it – where do customers get information about plants and gardening? From their friends and neighbors primarily. They see a beautiful plant in their neighbor’s yard and ask where they got it. The same thing happens when people post information and pictures online describing the beautiful plant they bought from your garden center and how helpful your staff was in selecting just the right thing. Customer sharing! Only now its no justt shared with the neighbor next door but with a much wider circle of online Facebook ‘friends’. The average facebook user has 130 ‘friends” and those users have 130 friends……
Kyle’s Top Ten Tips For Social Media Productivity
1. Mindless Games -Farmville, Angry Birds. 25 million people are playing these stupid games and a lot of them are our 45-50 year old female customers. Can we create our own game, contest, quiz or survey with prizes or coupons to visit our business?
2. Facebook Lists – take the time to manage your friends (customers) list and communicate with them. Build relationships, personalization and involvement are important to customers. Post regularl andy keep up with friends.
3. Twitter Lists – Biggest twitter user is 35-45 year old woman and main demographic of garden center consumer.
4. Use Hootsuite to manage and organize all your social media and transfer it to your smart phone/PDA.
5. Calender Blocks – block time into your calender to work on social media just as you would any other important task.
6. Facebook Settings – Do you have any idea how many settings are available to organize and maximize your time on facebook? Go to ‘account settings’ to make better use of this business tool.
7. Balance Fun and Work – Keep your passion!
8. Use email folder filters – never again open that email after vacation to 300 unsorted messages – prioritize! Boss = yes, Ikea = no
9. Use Toggl – tracks your time and ‘smacks you up side the head’ when you spend too much time on email or browsing that Ikea catalog. Another version is ‘Google Time Tracker’ Remember you only have an hour a day! Use it wisely.
10. Take a Break – get up and stretch, pet the dog, look outside every couple hours. Don’t let social media consume you, Have a life; a big branded, popular, prosperous life filled with friends!
Kyle Lacy was a great speaker and I went ahead and bought his book from Amazon called Branding Yourself. So far so good, not too dense or too much techno jargon, EZ to read, funny. I already tried updating my personal profile based on his reccomendations. Let me know what you think!
You can visit Kyle Lacy’s website at http://kylelacy.com/ Lots of great information and links and a lot of its feee!