Okay, we’re on board with all that is happening with regard to the social networking phenomenon and how well it actually ties in with the imaging industry. We even have a piece in this issue on what a few savvy retailers are doing to tap into this social media gold mine. As you’ll see on page 12, we think the J.C. Penney “Doghouse” campaign that ties in Facebook is simply a brilliant piece of marketing.
We just think it might be a good idea to fire a warning shot that any efforts made to jump into this still relatively new social media world on a marketing front be done with the idea that the follow-up still has to involve living, breathing connections with your customers. While the aforementioned J.C. Penney idea is working on a national level, within our world, similar efforts need a much more personal touch on the part of the retail location to fully pan out.
To further explain, while these online “conversations” are certainly hitting consumers where they live today, retailers must tread these waters carefully as to not invade these social spaces. The messages they attempt to incorporate into this world must remain as transparent as possible and simply engage the intended audience without being invasive.
However, it is what the retailer does in stage two of these social media campaigns that will make or break them. Both in-store as well as online follow-up must maintain the intimacy the independent retailer is known, and more importantly, so well respected for. After all, intimacy touches emotion; emotion powers conversation and those conversations remain the backbone of your business.
Now speaking of conversations, obviously, the power that lies behind social media, besides the sheer volume of users, is the art of online conversations and the footprints they leave behind. With regard to that, we also want to make mention of a couple of other tools, something old and something new, that are worth your attention.
Check out the site StumbleUpon.com. You can type in any topic in their search option and you’re instantly presented with not only a list of sites about that topic, but a sampling of the site’s users who are into that topic. You can then click on any of those users to find out key demographics, such as ages, genders, and locations, as well as their other topics of interest. You’ll be surprised what this will reveal.
Now for the “something old’ – you know Web 1.0 had its winners and one of the big ones, in our eyes, was/is Forums. I suppose you could call this Web 1.0’s version of social media and they are still alive and kicking. If you haven’t done this lately, type “photography forums” into Google and you’ll find a treasure trove of boards where consumers are talking/complaining/delighting about…photography. The water here is still very warm.
One of the major advantages to living in the world we live in is the fact consumers remain very emotional about their photographs and once again, to close, emotion powers conversation – always has, always will.