It Is About the Bacon

Are you comfortable with social media? Or, like me, do you resist having to, or are even scared to blog, tweet or post on Facebook? Does Twitter make you jittery? My resistance boils down to feelings of awkwardness and impatience: many Luddites (like me) blame social media phobia on too little time to learn the ropes and get smooth with composing hip, fun, interesting insights (especially within the constraints of 140 characters!) Feeling clumsy and inept squelches my creativity fast. Thankfully, my marketing manager at Chrysal affords me the luxury of sending all kinds of copy, videos, information snippets, and photos from road trips “as is”. She beautifies the material, zips it up, and posts it on various social venues. But I’m bored with my feelings of intimidation and figure I’m past due on overcoming e-trepidations.

Of the millions of books available about social media, I recommend, “It’s Not About You, It’s About Bacon”, by Brian Basilico. According to Basilico, the world of business has never been more customer-centric. “We no longer act as the hunter, but must learn to be what they (customers) want to hunt.” He also states, “The goal is not just to be in the conversation, but to learn how to start it and direct it in a way that you will be top of mind when someone needs your product or service.”

Recently, I teasingly told a grower friend that his business blog seemed more a vacation travelogue than anything about flowers. He took umbrage and declared that it’s all about keeping your company’s name in front of customers. According to him, top-of-mind positioning is the holy grail of social media, regardless of the subject matter. That got me thinking about other techniques that function as top-of-mind triggers. One technique that came to mind was used by a supermarket chain to stimulate repeat business by creating a reason for customers to check out the flowers on every visit. Using signage that highlighted varietal name, production area and characteristics of various roses, they established a rose of the week promo. Results were fast: in only a couple of weeks, customers started stopping in the department to ask which rose was that week’s feature. Without doing much more than highlighting varieties with informative signage, they stimulated interest (top of mind) and increased rose sales.

Today’s consumers are information-starved and Basilico reminds us that we have lots of data to mine at our fingertips.
Mine customer contact data from your address book or accounting files to build a network of folks interested in receiving information about your business such as product offerings, farm activities, care information for various flowers, and of course, availability. I receive Patrick Zweifel’s Oregon Coastal Flowers newsletter and feel that he does a great job of generating top-of-mind experience. He always includes a modest news item or photo about family, some local situation, the big fish caught in Alaska, or a beautiful nature shot, and then proceeds to list details about products and prices.

I look forward to it, which is exactly what you want customers to do—look forward to checking out what you have to say about what is happening at your location. Basilico reminds us that people don’t boot up and log onto social media to look at ads or fabulous offers. They want to:

• Keep up with relevant news
• Maintain important relationships
• Be entertained
• Stay informed
• Be educated
• Be moved by compassionate or controversial comments or memes
• Find conversation…but NEVER   be sold

People involved with social networking want to be educated. Educating your blog audience positions you as an expert. Provide consumers techniques associated with flower care not only garners attention, it often stimulates sharing or re-posting, which extends your online reach. Basilico puts it like this, “Becoming a trusted source takes time and commitment. Social networking is a communications tool, not an advertising methodology.”

He also reminds us that a common mistake is to hand over the job of creating and maintaining a company blog or newsletter to a 20-something employee. The problem with such a hand-off is matching the voice of the blog with the voice of your customers. If your customer base is 40-60 years old, will they trust that a young person can understand their questions and issues?

Another excellent example of an ASCFG member’s newsletter that speaks straight to its customer base is written by Rita Jo Shoultz of Alaska Perfect Peony. She voices concerns, provides tips and information, and admonishes customers not to sit on their hands and miss out on offerings, all directed clearly at her customer audience. Email her for a past copy to see what I mean. Heck, I’m not a peony grower nor do I live in Alaska, but I enjoyed reading every word of her past newsletters because of the tone and focus.

Recently I received an email from Just Add Ice Orchids, offering customers a chance to sign up for their care kit which includes:

• Email Watering Reminders
• 10 Ways to Keep Your Orchid Healthy
• A Simple Guide to Orchid Root Health
• Subscription Opportunity to Our    Orchid Care Blog
• A Simple Guide to Trigger Reblooming
• Exclusive Orchid Care Videos
• Store Locator

What a great way to engage customers and be their undisputed expert, not to mention staying top of mind!

If, like me, you’ve been reluctant about jumping into social media, I recommend Basilico’s book as a good jumping-off point. He gives dos and don’ts on this ever-growing style of business communications, as well as insights and examples. His resource list starts with the suggestion to use Google to find examples of how other people are sharing information.

An important chapter covers the legality of cutting and pasting images, photos, texts or videos. Be careful what you use because there are companies patrolling and scanning the internet for unlicensed copyright infringements. It is an expensive mistake to use material without permission or payment, even if done so unintentionally. And keep in mind, social media is not a mission impossible.

Gay Smith

Technical Consulting Manager

Gay Smith is the Technical Consulting Manager for Chrysal USA. Contact her at [email protected]