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Social Media 101

Cody, on Williams’Cody, on Williams’ left, is a white-throated capuchin. Sasha on his right shoulder is the diva of the group. In his arms are the fi rst two monkeys Gallery Furniture purchased, Parker and Tidwell. Sasha, Parker and Tidwell are all brown-tufted capuchins.
Facebook and Twitter icons are everywhere you look. At the end of many of the stories on my local news they let me know I can weigh in and comment on Facebook and make sure to keep up with what's happening on Twitter. You all have heard it too, right? Here it is again, right here, another article on social media. (I promise this article will be different so keep reading!) But many of you still haven't joined in on the conversations via smart phones, tablets or your old desktop PC.
     From a personal point of view I really don't care what you are eating, wearing or where you are going and who you are or are not going with and how much you liked it or not. The same goes about you knowing all I do. But from a business stance, I long to have you interact with me in the realm of social media and tell me what you think, be it good, bad or indifferent. Because the truth of the matter is, whether I want you to or not, you are going to talk about me and the businesses I work for or own, so it's my loss not to join in the conversation and meet you where you are!
     There are so many social media sites we also have to decide which ones are right for your business. In deciding where to start, the answer is simple: Facebook has enough members to be considered the world's third largest nation and over 1/3 of the Americans surveyed admittedly checked out Facebook while on the royal throne that is the center of every bathroom. There is even a best-selling app for that, iPoo, but that's a whole other article in itself. The point is, you want to be where your customers are interacting, so that they can introduce you to their friends who can then introduce you to their friends over and again.
     Facebook gives you the most cost effective way to promote your brand, let your friends and friends-to-be know about what's going on at your business that they might want to check-out, and every now and then, try to sell them something. Wait you say, isn't the idea of being a retailer to sell? While we all go to work everyday with the goal of increasing our sales over last year's, in the realm of social media: Facebook/Twitter/You-Tube, Pinterest, too much selling is a no-no and "friends" will avoid your page like the bubonic plague.
     I can hear many of you already, "If I can't sell something, why bother?" The truth is that when you expose people to your business, or your knowledge about products and topics related to your business through social media, when they are ready to buy they will already be connected with you so their choice to buy from you will already be made.
     For the casual furniture industry, Facebook lets you show just how much fun your products can be, especially through videos. You have a huge advantage over other areas in the home furnishings industry such as mattresses, because you can show people having fun using your products, whereas if the mattress industry tries to show people really having fun on their products it's subject to be banned and classified as porn!
     Facebook is the place where you can share with people all about your business. You can tell them about upcoming events and then during the event you can instantly post photos of the fun saying "Wish you were here!" If the photo looks like a lot of fun they will wish they were there too and the next time you announce an event they'll be more apt to attend.
     Facebook is also a place to subtly introduce new products and ask your friends/customers what they think. It's especially helpful if you are at market or considering a new style or products that you just aren't 100% sure about. Post the photo of the product on Facebook and ask your friends what they think. You will be surprised at the insight you can gain from something so simple. It's amazing!
     And if the fans on your page overwhelmingly like an item, then make sure you bring it into your store and give it the hoopla it deserves right there on Facebook. "All right Friends, here it is, you asked for it and we got it! Come out and check it out in person, best of all it's ready for immediate delivery!" Get the idea? You turned social activity into an opportunity for sales and at the same time allowed your customers to be a part of your business. Now that's priceless. ‘Til next time, say social!

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