From sausage dogs to hot hogs: How SMEs can use Facebook to engage with customers

Facebook and small retailers do go together very well, when matched properly. And by that I mean when the use of the tool is authentic.

Here are two examples. I’ve written many times about my wife’s specialist online business that sources and sells gifts and accessories for dachshunds…or as they’re more commonly known, sausage dogs. Mydachshundonline.com has grown to almost 1300 Facebook ‘likes’ around the world. Not just click, like and never visit again, but 1300 owners who enjoy a common passion for, and interest in, dachshunds.

The site can showcase a new item on Facebook, and receive an order via the website from Finland just four hours later. The fact that sales from this online shop also support the rescue and re-homing of dachshunds around Australia further reflects the authenticity of the content. It could all be delivered by a dedicated website, but the Facebook infrastructure, and global community accessibility makes this a relevant tool.

From hot dogs to hot hogs

A new classic motorcycle shop has opened in a suburb in Sydney’s northern beaches – Surfside Motorcycle Garage in Brookvale to be precise. It’s actually a reinvention of a previous business, but focuses more on restoring and maintaining classic motorcycles, rather than just buying and selling them.

When the guys began the refurbishment of the workshop/store and coffee shop, along with the rebranding, they set up a Facebook page. At first I wasn’t convinced it was an authentic use of the tool; just another adoption of Facebook because it was there.

But as each day passed the posts and photos told the story of the business taking shape. Visual quizzes became involving and the general chat around the bikes, the workshop, the customers and the trials and tribulations of setting up a business in our very complex and bureaucratic environment played out like a reality TV show. I am now hooked.

Both of these Facebook pages, simply run and refreshed several times a day, reflect the genuine, engaging, authentic nature of the businesses, their owners, employees and customers.

I say this because there are now many large corporations heavy-handedly using Facebook. Their formulaic and textbook marketing approach is in many ways undermining their message and their brand.

Authentic communication via Facebook will assist any small business connect and grow, far more than a significant investment in paid likes, mass press releases, product launches or mainstream promotions.

CROSSMARK CEO Kevin Moore looks at the world of retailing from grocery to pharmacy, bottle shops to car dealers, corner store to department stores.

 

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