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Phone: 785-760-5071
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A view of the industry through the eyes of independent and chain retailers.

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Word of Mouth: Social Media 101

And a preview of upcoming seminars.

by Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender (November 1, 2010)

So, where do you stand with Social Media? Usually it’s one of two places: you’re either all over it, or you just don’t know where to begin. Knowing where to begin can be a daunting task, but one thing’s for sure: it’s the best way to connect with current and potential customers. And it’s not going away.

Social Media statistics are over the top: Facebook alone has more than 400 million active users; 50% of users are on Facebook on any given day, in fact people spend more than 500 billion minutes per month on Facebook. More than 1.5 million local businesses have active pages and more than 20 million people “like” pages each day. Twitter reports 50 millions tweets per day; 600 tweets per second. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Your choice of advertising used to be so much easier: print, radio, or television; end of story. Those days are over. Traditional advertising methods aren’t doing as well with younger generations. Generation X, Generation Y, and now Generation Z, were all raised on the Internet – they spend more time there than they do watching television. Pages of copy don’t do it for them; they prefer to photos and communication in short “sound bites.”

The list of Social Media platforms grows daily – you could go crazy trying to keep up with them all! The sites listed below will give you the most visibility. Consider the following:

Start a Blog.

Blogs have been around for years, and with good reason: they give ordinary people a voice. You may never be on tv, but you can reach millions of people online if what you have to say is interesting. Your blog can be an online diary or a running commentary on what’s happening in your world. Or your store. You can post copy, photos, video, links to websites – the sky, or maybe your imagination, is the limit. Readers can add comments of their own, and even subscribe to your blog via an RSS feed, so they’ll never miss a post.

We started our “Retail Adventures in the REAL World™” blog in 2005 as a communication tool to help retailers grow their businesses. Since then it’s become a resource read by tens of thousands each month. There are many blog sites available to choose from, we use Blogger.com; WordPress.com is another popular choice. Both are free and easy to use. Create an account and you’ll be up and running in no time at all.

Create a Facebook “Like” Page.

This one is non-negotiable: you need a Facebook “Like” (called a “Fan” page). We said fan page for a very good reason: regular Facebook accounts are for individuals; fan pages are for businesses. If you open an individual account for your business, you are in violation of Facebook’s terms of service and sooner or later your profile will be removed. To get started, look for “Create a Page for a celebrity, band, or business" on the bottom right of Facebook’s home page and follow the instructions.

You goal on Facebook is to attract fans – people who share an interest in what you sell – and interact with them on your fan page. Take photos of your store and post them on your “wall” – your front page. Tell stories about your store, share your daily happenings. Share industry observations, product information, what you saw at a trade show, upcoming in-store events, photos, videos, testimonials, what your dog did yesterday – whatever you think your fans will find interesting. We post business ideas and industry observations on our Facebook fan page, but our personal comments get the best play. Facebook is free and it’s easy to use. Find out more at www.facebook.com and peruse all the available applications while you’re there.

Join the conversation on Twitter.

Twitter is a micro blogging platform that allows you to publish “Tweets” – messages of 140 characters or less. It’s kind of like a cocktail party you can read on your computer or mobile phone. There are all sorts of conversations going on so it’s easy to “listen in,“ “Retweet” (forward someone else’s tweets), or add comments of your own. You want to “hang out” with Paris Hilton? Easy! Follow her on Twitter. She’ll probably follow you back – that’s good Twitter etiquette. It’s fun to interact with people you might never meet in person, and if you do, you already have a connection. Watch for “Tweet-ups” – face-to-face Twitter meetings – in your area and at trade shows.

Twitter users used to be primarily adults, but now kids are getting in on the action: 12 to 24 years olds are the fastest growing groups of users. That being said, the most active Tweeps are still over the age of 35.  We use Twitter to build awareness for our brand, gather feedback, network, find old friends and make new ones, send updates about where we are and what we’re doing, and photos. You name it. If you can do it in 140 characters or less, you can do it on Twitter. Learn more about this free service at http://www.twitter.com.

Lights! Camera! YouTube!

Release your inner rock star on YouTube, a free video sharing website that allows you to easily upload videos. Anyone can watch (and rate and comment if you so desire) the videos you post. Register to create your own channel with a customizable home page. This will allow you to upload an unlimited number of videos and connect with others: people can subscribe to your channel and they’ll be alerted each time your post a new video.

YouTube is perfect platform to showcase your store and the products that you sell. You can film and upload classes, quilting how-tos, and tips from instructors. Add store commercials, testimonials, footage of events, video circulars, even training videos on how to use a specific product. YouTube has changed how we connect with friends, fans, and clients. We carry our pocket-sized “flip” video camcorder everywhere. Get started at www.YouTube.com.

Help from Yelp.

Yelp.com is a cool site that’s designed to help people (potential customers!) find great local businesses – like yours. Set up a free account that lists all of the important information about your business.  Dress it up with coupons, offers, photos of your store and more.

Customers participate by adding reviews and comments about your business.  These comments – testimonials – are invaluable, so use them to your advantage. Customers are 10 to 20 times more likely to believe what others say about your store before they’ll believe you – you’re supposed to say good things about yourself.  If someone posts a negative comment, address it in a positive way.  Your professional response shows that you care. Go local at www.yelp.com.

There are hundreds of social media sites available on the Internet; some will actually help you grow your business, and some will just waste your time. In addition to the sites above, you may want to visit www.Flicker.com, a popular photo-sharing service; www.LinkedIn.com, a business site that allows you to connect with other professionals; www.GoogleBuzz.com, a new social networking and messaging tool from Google that lets you use your Gmail account to share status updates, photos, videos, and more with the people you e-mail most often; www.Digg.com, a site that helps you find and share content from anywhere on the web; and www.Foursquare.com, a site that defines itself as “a cross between a friend-finder, a social city-guide and a game that rewards you for doing interesting things.”

And think about….

Many of your social media profiles can be linked together. Our Twitter account, Facebook fan page, and Retail Adventures™ blog are all linked; we only have to update in one place and that update appears on all three sites. This saves us all kinds of time.

Check out www.TweetDeck.com, a site that’s described as “a personal browser for staying in touch with what’s happening now, connecting you with your contacts across Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and more.” TweetDeck on your desktop looks like a NASA control panel, but don’t let that scare you, it’s easy to operate. You can manage your social media accounts, shorten a link, send photos, even record a video to share from this single location.

Post with care! Use punctuation and spell check. Make sure that everything you post online is something you want out there, because once it’s in cyberspace, it’s in cyberspace. Even if you delete it, chances are Google will still be able to find it.

You need an interactive website, but today that’s not enough. Websites have become online business cards where people can learn more about what you do.  Social Medias get them involved. You’ll want to link all of your Social Media profiles to your website.

Here’s the thing: you can’t open a Twitter account or join Facebook and think that you’re all set.  You have to participate!  This requires commitment. We bought iPhones not too long ago so we can update our accounts wherever we are. In the office, we set aside a specific time of day to post and manage our social media accounts. If you can’t do it alone, find someone on your team who can do it for you, or hire a high school or college student to help you out. Social Medias get bigger every day and they’re here to stay. Your customers are already on board. What are you waiting for? Join the party!


Rich and Georganne will be conducting three seminars at the CHA Conference & Trade Show in Los Angeles in January. Attendees are charged $25 when they pre-register (or $50 if they register at the show), but that entitles them to attend all seminars, workshops, and special events -- for free. However, tickets are required. Register for the show and reserve your tickets at www.chashow.org.

Social Media 101: What You Need to Know to JOIN the Conversation!

Have you heard the buzz about Social Media Marketing, but you’re not really sure how to get involved? Then this hands-on seminar is for you! We’ll show you how to use Facebook and Twitter like a pro. Be sure to bring your laptop because you’re about to get connected. During Social Media 101, you will:

Set Up Your Own Facebook Account: You’ll learn the difference between a profile and a fan page, which one is right for you, how to add photos and video, plus how to use your "Wall" to market your store.

Set Up a Twitter Account: You’ll learn how to attract followers, why you need to write re-tweetable Tweets, what that “@” sign means, how to use the “#” sign to your advantage, how to add photos, and more.

You’ll learn what you need to know about who you’re “talking” to on-line, including what to say, and how and when to say it. You’ll leave this seminar with a list of social media best practices, everything you need to know to get started, a plan to follow once you return to business, and more!

BRING YOUR LAPTOP! You’ll leave this hands-on session with a Facebook and Twitter account created just for your business!

The seminar is Saturday, January 29, 3:: pm-5:00 pm. Seminar S115, Room 408B.

Advanced Social Media Marketing

You’re up and running on Facebook, and you Tweet like a pro, but are you getting the most out of your adventures in social media? The emphasis here is on social; it’s an ongoing cocktail party: Are you saying the right things to keep followers and fans engaged? Do your profiles and fan pages do your business justice? Find out for sure! This hands-on seminar will teach you cutting-edge skills to help you master social media marketing. You’ll learn:

1. How to Create a Practical – and Easy to Manage – Social Media Strategy

2. Tips to Improve Your Facebook Fan Page

3. How to Create Tweets that Get Re-Tweeted

4. Smart Ways to Promote Your Business on Facebook and Twitter

5. What – and What Not – to Say to Encourage Customer Conversation

6. The Latest Tools Available to Help You Manage Your Social Media Accounts, and More.

Be sure to bring your computer! You’ll leave this session with practical, real-world social media tips and techniques to help you grow your business!

The seminar is Sunday, January 30, 2:00 pm-3:00 pm. Seminar S124, Room 408B.

A Week in the Life of Creative Industry Independent Retailers

Have you ever wondered how other retailers run their stores? Do they start their days bright and early with a cup of coffee and a smile? Or do they jump in with both feet just like you, running from one task to another? Welcome to the world of many hats! Manager, buyer, sales associate, accountant, social media maven, chief motivator, janitor, customer comforter, psychiatrist – you name it, you wear them all! But you’re not alone, retailers across the country operate their stores much the same as you do. Or do they?

Join Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender for an in-depth discovery of what really happens in the world of an independent retailer.You’ll go inside the day-to-day operations of three industry independents: one scrapbook, one general crafts, and one specialty craft retailer. You’ll learn their individual approaches to advertising, marketing, in-store events and promotions; how they choose vendors and product lines; how they set their sales floors; how they motivate their people; where they look for Ah Ha! ideas; how they set store policies; and more. You’ll see similarities and maybe even a few “Why didn’t I think of that?” moments.  The best part? You’ll take away ideas and inspiration from others who walk in shoes just like yours every, single day.

The seminar is Monday, January 31, Noon-1:00 pm. Seminar S133, Room 502A.

(Note: Meetings & Conventions magazine took a survey of meeting planners asking them to name their favorite speakers/keynote presenters – and Kizer & Bender make the list, along with such luminaries as Dr. Stephen R. Covey, Mike Ditka, Bill Gates, Rudy Giuliani, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Jay Leno, Colin Powell, and others. To read previous columns, click on the titles in the right-hand column.)

KIZER & BENDER Speaking! 

Keynotes | Seminars | Consulting | Store Design

103 North 11th Ave., Ste. 206, St. Charles, Illinois 60174
Phone: 630-513-8020 | 24/7 Mobile: 708-347-2682 Fax: 630-513-8098
Web: www.kizerandbender.com     
Blog: www.kizerandbender.blogspot.com  
Twitter: http://twitter.com/kizerandbender   
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