Northfield retailers: making use of social networking for the holidays?

social-networking With Black Friday approaching this week, the Strib ran two articles on Sunday related to retailers’ use of social media tools (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs, etc):

1) Tweet, tweet is retailers’ new ho, ho, ho; and 2) Social animal: Best Buy’s holiday strategy is all about tweets, friends and its very own Twelpforce.

Tracy, Ross and I have written about this here on LoGroNo for awhile but I think that with the sluggish economy, this holiday season would be an especially good time to start using these apps. Of course, I’m biased since part of my consulting practice (shameless plug for Wigley and Associates) involves helping businesses, non-profits, and leaders learn how to use these tools.

But Northfield has a culture of blogging and our main community media site, Northfield.org, aggregates business blog headlines into its sidebar thereby giving free advertising to any local business with a blog. The number of local citizens (not just young people) now on Facebook and using Twitter is growing rapidly, making both of those services attractive tools to complement a retail market strategy.

While these social media tools are free to use for the most part, they do take time to learn.  I think Northfield could benefit from social media users group, a face-to-face gathering where newbies could rub elbows with the not-so-newbies and have fun learning together.

If I started one, would anyone show up?

14 thoughts on “Northfield retailers: making use of social networking for the holidays?”

  1. While retailers have high hopes of turning fans like Hlavac into customers, social media has proved to be better at building goodwill rather than boosting sales directly from sites.

    Griff, I’ve been blogging for 3 years and have one sale, yes one, that I can attribute to my blog.  that makes for a poor return on investment.  I’m not saying businesses shouldn’t use these tools, but you have to realize the limited response they receive.  My time is important to me.  If I tweet I have to give up something else. If spend one hour a day using social media tools, that’s one hour a day I cannot shelve books.

    It’s  tough to balance all of this, especially when the ROI is limited or difficult to measure at best.  I think some small businesses do it very well.  currently I have a website I use to sell books.  a blog that I use to highlight events or specific books.  facebook, I have not joined, but will probably start soon.  twitter, I still do not see the value in this tool.

  2. Jerry,  are you dismissing the point of the ‘goodwill’ excerpt you selected in your comment?   I think you’ve engendered a considerable amount of goodwill over the years just by your participation here on LG.

    I went back and tagged the blog posts in which your name and/or your store were mentioned… quite a few.  Just because people don’t come into your store and say “I saw X on your blog” or “I saw Y on LG” doesn’t mean it’s had no impact. How about counting the books I buy from you every Xmas? Or Ross? Or Tracy?

    Also, is there any reason you don’t have your blog’s RSS feed aggregated by Northfield.org so that any time you blog, the headline gets automatically added to their sidebar widget for business blogs? That’s free advertising to the X thousand visitors they get every month.

  3. I agree about goodwill Griff.  that’s essentially why I blog.  I’d like to provide more original content as well.  I think that is the key to a good blog.

    my blog is in the Northfield.org feed under business.  I’ve been out of town, so I haven’t posted anything new for a few days.  I think Northfield.org should pull KYMN out of the business section and give them their own section.  on any weekday all 5 posts under business could be from KYMN.

    I don’t mean to sound negative, but there is a cost to everything.  not always a monetary one, but still a cost.  I’ve tried to encourage other business owners to get on board.  some do and some don’t.  maintaining our website’s inventory is a huge task.  We’ve cataloged about 15,000 books over the last three years.

     

  4. Griff,

    Beef ‘O’ Brady’s of Northfield has been using Facebook as a social networking / marketing tool since July. Their site is located at http://www.facebook.com/BeefsNorthfield

    There is also the ability to subscribe via SMS, and receive the messages on a mobile device.

    Chad and Tina are leveraging this to promote current specials and nightly events.

    They are currently at approximately 200 fans, and it has been consistently growing week to week.

    Personally, I would enjoy being in a social media users group, especially if it was slanted toward how Northfield small businesses could leverage Social Media to strategic advantage by understanding the customer segments, and the ways that they interact with advertising and media in general.

    I still think that many small businesses are stuck on traditional media, and that market is not being utilized by the 25 and under demographic.

    I am currently taking some Marketing Administration classes for my MBA and Masters of Management degrees. There are some wonderful white papers and other resources I have on social media, that I would be willing to share.

    Let me know. I would love to participate as a way to give back to the local businesses. It is time to swing the competitive advantage back to our local businesses.

    Regards,
    -J

     

     

    1. John, what are the advantages of Beef O’Brady’s using Facebook’s SMS service instead of Twitter?

      It seems like Twitter would offer more flexibility and features and ‘viral’ ability but I’m not familiar enough with FB SMS to know.

    2. @ Griff,

      Basically ease of use, and use of a “known”.

      More research would need to be done to implement a Twitter solution.

      Ideally, both would be the way to go.

  5. Oh! Oh!  Were you talking about me, Jerry?  I bought Jetta Carleton’s The Moonflower Vine because I read about it on Jerry’s blog.  It’s a wonderful book.  In fact, I reviewed it on my own blog and recommended it to my sister in Vermont, who recommended it to her book group, who read it and loved it.  I don’t know how many people bought the book because they read the review on my blog (I get 50-100 hits a day, but no comments), but I know that an entire Vermont book group bought it because of old-fashioned word of mouth.  By word of mouth, though, I mean an email to my sister.

    In the end, Jerry sold one book (to me) because of his blog and because of the locally-generated goodwill I feel towards him.  Those rural Vermonters, influenced by my recommendation of a book I learned about from Jerry, probably bought their copies on Amazon.com.

  6. that’s the book Rob.  I’d join a group Griff.  Mostly I’d like to know what consumers or users like John are looking for.  sometimes I feel like I’m shooting in the dark.

  7. 11/27 NY Times: Buying, Selling and Twittering All the Way

    In Bloomington, Minn., Mall of America used its Twitter page to tell consumers two of its parking areas were at capacity and that their best bet was to park near Ikea… A Twitter post can in theory be seen by millions, and thus packs more punch than an e-mail message or a phone call to a store.

    The big retailers are all scrambling this Christmas to come up with Twitter plans. They are designating tech-savvy employees to respond to the posts, sometimes by providing up-to-minute inventory information from a sales floor, for example, or by offering help with some balky gadget. “It’s one of the greatest emerging communication channels out there,” said Greg Ahearn, senior vice president of marketing and e-commerce for Toys “R” Us. “This is a way people can stay connected with the brand in a way they’ve never been able to before.”

    11/29 Reuters: Black Friday Shoppers Tweet, Friend And Clip

    Marian Salzman, president of Euro RSCG Worldwide PR, said social media is becoming an integral part of the shopping experience for consumers who want advice from others before making a potential purchase and spending limited cash. Once deals are posting on Facebook or Twitter, consumers often repost them and share them with friends.

    “It’s almost crowd sourcing for opinions,” she said. “We increasingly need affirmation from our peers and our loved ones and the people that create our lifestyle to feel good about where we are buying things.”

     

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