Azure Collier

my take on social media marketing and its impact on how we work, live and consume

Need proof that social media marketing works? Check out the movie Chef.

Chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) starts a Twitter feud with a food critic in the movie Chef.

Chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) starts a Twitter feud with a food critic in the movie Chef.

When I went to the theater to see the movie Chef last weekend, I expected a quirky independent comedy with a lot of delicious cooking scenes. And I wasn’t disappointed. But what I didn’t predict is a subplot about the power of social media and how it helps small businesses. It’s a movie about marketing!

In case you’re not familiar with the film, Chef is about a Los Angeles celebrity chef, Carl Casper, (Jon Favreau) who gets in a public Twitter feud with a food critic and loses his job. He decides to start a food truck with the help of his son and a former co-worker.

The trio finds their footing in the food truck biz by taking a culinary road trip across the South, and this is where the marketing kicks in. Carl’s 11-year-old son Percy starts tweeting – using his dad’s Twitter handle (which has tens of thousands of followers thanks to the feud with the food critic) – about their itinerary. And he creates a Facebook page that is quickly filled with road trip and food photos. They’re greeted with long lines in each city and the movie does a great job visually of showing how social media helps generate new customers. The folks waiting in line start typing on their smartphones, and Twitter graphics appear like thought bubbles over their heads as they write tweets about the food truck. Once the customers press “tweet,” the tweets turn into a flock of Twitter birds that fly off to spread their messages to the followers of each person in the line.

Boom. Social visibility and word of mouth marketing.

I know it’s a movie, and in an ideal word, every single customer would tweet about their favorite businesses like the people in the food truck lines. And every business would send out interesting, relevant messages to their followers and be greeted with lines around the block.

But don’t ignore the reality here. Social media does work. You don’t have to be perfect, but you do have to be visible and use social media as an extension of who you are and what you do. If you have the right amount of personality and engaging content, you can connect with customers who will spread the word about you to their networks and attract new customers.

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Why I’m not participating in restaurant week: Your Facebook posts don’t link to your menu

On paper, restaurant week is a great idea. If you haven’t heard of restaurant week, it’s a week out of the year where the restaurants of a community offer special prices and menus to drive people to local dining establishments.

Pretty cool, right? Eat local! Spend local! I’m for it.

Until the restaurants and organizers of restaurant week try to execute the event online. What happens is the organizers cobble together a horrible looking website using every font available in their publishing platform, hastily throw up a Facebook page and attempt – but fail – to provide prospective diners with the necessary information.

I’m not talking about the dates and the list of restaurants themselves. What I’m talking about is what every diner who searches for a restaurant online is looking for: the special restaurant week-only menu.

Aside from reviews on Facebook and Yelp, the menu is a key factor in the decision making process for which establishment gets our money. What are you serving? Do I like it? Will my friends/kids/family/co-workers who have gluten-free/picky eating/vegetarian issues be able to enjoy anything on your menu?

For some reason, restaurant week event organizers don’t get this, and they link to everything else besides the menu in their Facebook posts. They link to the Facebook pages of participating restaurants, the restaurants’ homepages, and their aforementioned terrible event website. All the links on the event’s website are also typically to the participating restaurants’ homepages. Although they did a good job reminding fans and posting delicious food photos, after post after post on one local restaurant week’s Facebook page linked to everything but the menus.

Linking to the homepage of a restaurant does not bring me to the restaurant week menu because restaurants typically build a special page for it. The restaurant owners and workers and their marketing folks know where to find it – they spend every day on their website. But the prospective customers who may use restaurant week to try you out have no idea where that special menu is or how to get to it. They don’t use your site every day, and they are not going to spend more than 2 clicks trying to find your menu.

So you’re going to get a scenario like the one I experienced with my friends this week. We picked a day, and then chatted on Facebook messenger to find a restaurant we could all agree on. The local restaurant week’s webpage listed the homepage of 18 participating restaurants. After a few tries of searching and failing to find the restaurant week menus, we decided to try the restaurant week of another nearby town. We found the same situation with the next town’s website, and they had 42 restaurants listed. Who has the time or energy to look all over the interwebs to find the restaurant week menus of 42 restaurants?

Restaurant week fail. We gave up.

I’m not the only one who feels this way. Here’s one Facebook fan’s response to the Restaurant Week Menu Quest:

Restaurant Week Facebook Post

Do not make customers work to complete a call to action. They will give up.
So my point is this: If you want people to do something, link to the thing you want them to do. This is not just for restaurant week. This is for any marketing anyone does anywhere, no matter if you’re doing it for an event or your business. Do not make people work to follow through on the call to action. It’s that simple. You want people to come to your business. Make it easy for them to come to your business. You spend a lot of time and money on your websites and social media marketing. You want prospective customers to view all the pages of all the fabulous things you have to offer. I get it. Just get them there first. If they want to come back, and want to learn more by perusing your Facebook posts and website, they will.

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How one small business creates great Facebook content

Anyone who uses Facebook for social media marketing is looking for that magic bullet of content: What can I post that will get my fans talking, make them loyal, and spread the word about my business?

One of my favorite local small businesses has figured it out. Modern Edge Art Bar is a studio in my area that offers BYOB painting classes, jewelry classes, birthday parties, and kids classes. I have taken 3 of the BYOB classes, and was thrilled as a non-artist that I could have so much fun with my friends and walk out with a painting I am proud to hang up at home.

When I first heard of Modern Edge last summer, and liked their page, they had a few hundred fans. Since then, they’ve grown to 1,200 fans and have expanded their business – last month they moved to a larger space, increased their staff, and added more classes.

I think that word of mouth had a lot to do with Modern Edge’s growth, and they’re getting great word of mouth through Facebook because of the engaging content they share. Here are 5 ways Modern Edge creates great Facebook content

1. They strike the right tone

Modern Edge doesn’t post bland text updates about products or services. They share information about their business in a friendly, helpful way. This post is about a possible painting for a future BYOB class – it got 33 comments and 133 likes.

Modern Edge Painting

2. Photos, photos, photos

There is no mystery about what happens in a Modern Edge art class. They post photos of what project the class will work on. They post during a class. They post photos of happy artists with finished projects. This is the cover photo they posted after a class I attended with my friends.

Modern Edge Cover Photo

3. Call to action/get people to share

Want to drive traffic to your products or services? Modern Edge has this down: tell people how many seats are left. Or ask your fans to share on Facebook for a chance to win a free class. This post got 47 comments:

Modern Edge Giveaway

4. They ask for their customers’ opinions

Modern Edge instructors are trained and skilled art teachers. But you can’t fill your classes if no one wants to learn what you’re teaching. They keep their classes fresh by asking their fans what they want.

Modern Edge Facebook Poll5. They’re not all business

This Bob Ross meme is spot-on. It’s about art and it’s entertaining to fans, which is why it got 53 shares.

Modern Edge Bob Ross

Need more help with Facebook marketing? Check out my other posts about Facebook!

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How your business can prepare for Facebook Graph Search

Facebook Graph Search

Facebook’s big Graph Search announcement today was a wake up call for businesses. Essentially, Facebook is the next big search engine and local search app. Your potential customers are on Facebook, and if you’re not using Facebook for marketing, you won’t be found.

If you’ve been on the fence about using Facebook for marketing, or you haven’t done much with your page, this is why Graph Search matters:

So, you can see where this is going. Facebook is where we’re going to find the products, services and recommendations we need. A lot of this searching is happening when we’re on the go with our smartphones – which people are already using to access Facebook. Graph Search is how you’re going to be discovered.

This is a win for businesses and marketers. We’ve all been trying to figure out how to beat EdgeRank to make sure our posts show up in our fans’ news feeds, because – due to the EdgeRank formula – only 16% are seen by your fans. As more people use Facebook as a search engine, your chances of coming up in a search will increase because of the content you’re already creating.

How can you prepare your business for Graph Search?

  • Fill out all of your profile information – even if it’s already complete, give it a second look. Is everything current? What keywords could you add to your description that would benefit you in a Graph Search?
  • Make sure you’re regularly adding visual content because photos and videos shared on Facebook will also come up in a Graph Search. It’s a good idea to do that anyway – posts that include images will get 120-180% more engagement than just text.
  • Grow your fanbase. A no-brainer, but Graph Search results are personally tailored based on what a Facebook user – and their friends – like. So make sure you are:
    • integrating your marketing efforts. This sounds basic, but only 19.5% of small businesses have a link to their Facebook page on their website. Make sure there’s a link in your email newsletter, your blog and anywhere else you’re listed (LinkedIn, Twitter, Yelp, etc.) in your profile or about information.
    • creating engaging content to keep your fans interested, improve your page’s EdgeRank, and amplify word of mouth. The more your fans interact with you, the more likely you’ll show up in their news feed. And the more your fans interact with you, it will appear in their friends’ news feeds.
    • preparing offline. Do you have signs or decals in your store that promote your Facebook page? Do they have the entire URL (facebook.com/yourbusinessname) or a QR code so they’re easier to find and Like by smartphone users?

Want more info on Graph Search? Check out this business guide on the Facebook Studio site.

What do you think of Graph Search? Let me know in the comments.

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Why we should shop small

As you’re beginning to see in my posts, shopping takes up a bit of my spare time. I’ll admit it – I visit big box stores (mostly Target and I’m the mayor of my local Target on foursquare), and I am a huge fan of giant malls.

Something happened on Small Business Saturday that makes me want to pull back from my habits.

I visited Chelsea’s Boutique, a little shop across from the post office in downtown Leominster. I’d passed by it many times in the 8 years I’ve lived in Massachusetts. The funky dresses and colorful paper lanterns in the store windows always caught my eye, but I was too busy to stop in. I made a point to shop there on Small Business Saturday. The owner, Susan, was there – she’d had the store for 20 years and knows a lot of people in the community. I could tell by her conversation with a 20-something customer that she was a friend of Susan’s family. She was unflappably kind, and had a crazy amount of discounts for Small Business Saturday – she was practically giving some things away.

As I was paying for my purchases (top secret Christmas gifts for my nieces – I can’t reveal what I bought!), Susan asked if I’d followed her Facebook page – she said she uses it to announce new products, like one of the hair accessories I was buying. “People have been asking when those were coming in – they’re one of Oprah’s Favorite Things this year.”

I walked back to my car – satisfied that I’d finally gone to Chelsea’s, and happy to participate in Small Business Saturday.

A few hours later, Chelsea’s was gone – a massive fire took down the boutique’s building, the former Columbia Hotel.

Chelsea’s customers flooded the Facebook page with kind words and offers for help. Volunteers and community members stepped forward to assist business owners and tenants in the retrieval of their belongings. They made donations. They’re helping them rebuild and move on.

As I read Facebook posts and local newspaper articles about the fire, and people’s thoughts about the loss and rebuilding of these businesses, something occurred to me: If a Walmart burned down, would you see the same thing? Would people be emotional? Would they rush to the scene, bearing supplies and donations and offering to participate in the cleanup efforts?

Would they personally know the owners and workers – would they be friends of their families, or former classmates? Did they shop at the big box because of the  relationships and their emotional connections to those people? Did the owners know them by name? Did they know that they were asking them to order some of Oprah’s Favorite Things so they could buy them as Christmas gifts?

Yeah, probably not.

This is why we should shop small.

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