First a little housekeeping. Great news! I had enough Circle of Friends music cd’s and Jen’s photos to send one to everyone who left a comment! I’ll try to send you the photo that was your favorite. And the winners of the 3 coffee break prize packages are Patty, Nicole, and Kitty. I’ll be contacting you all via e-mail for your addresses! Congratulations!! And thank you all for participating in my birthday bash last week!
I recently drove past a local business and saw the sign out front, “Business closed. Thank you for your business over the years.”
My heart sank and I felt like I lost a best friend. I have the owners of that store to thank for the grass in my back yard and my years of successful gardening. They had owned that small-town shop for half a decade and were a walking Google Search for all things garden related. I have no idea who I’m going to ask for help this summer when the rodents return, or where I’m going to get my chicken poop. It was a very sad day indeed, and I kicked myself for not shopping there more regularly and spreading the word about how great they were.
In this tough economy, you can make a difference for the businesses that you love, and not just with your dollars (although that is very important). Your voice can help drive traffic and keep your favorite places in business. Word of mouth is still one of the most powerful advertising tools, and with the internet and social media, your mouth can be very big. (Wait, that didn’t quite come out right…)
My favorite local coffee shop, Ella‘s, relies heavily on word of mouth. So after our recent book release party, I was wondering what I could do to help their business. Kedron looked at me and said, “talk them up online.”
I have a suspicion that many households operate like we do. If we don’t have personal experience with a place, or it hasn’t been recommended by someone we know, we make our decisions about where we go and what we do and what we buy based on reviews we read online.
So here are 4 ways you can support your favorite businesses.
1. Utilize Facebook.
Facebook has become a huge marketing tool for businesses both large and small. Help them out by spreading the word in your own network of friends.
Like their business page.
Write a recommendation. On the right column of their page, under “Recent Posts by Others,” You’ll see a box of “Recommendations” and a place to write your own. Don’t write something general, but be specific about what you love – the atmosphere, the price, a particular product, or share about a recent good experience. Read some of the other recent recommendations and “like” them. All of these show up in your news feed for your friends to see.
Check in when you are there, and post a photo too! You can do this using the Facebook app on your mobile phone. Make sure you have allowed the Facebook app access to your location services (found in the settings on your phone).
Tag the business in a status. Write a short status saying what a great experience you had, or what you ate and loved and tag them. You do that by typing @ and without spaces, start typing the business name and their page should show up in a list if you’ve liked it.
2. Write reviews online.
You can copy the recommendation that you wrote on Facebook, and then paste that into these various places online:
Google – Do a Google search for the business, and when you find it, there will be a box on the right showing the business on a map and a link for reviews. Click on the reviews and there will be a place for you to post your own review.
White Pages (which is connected to Yelp!)
FourSquare – which is another social network, and many businesses offer discounts and specials if you “check-in” at their location, using the app on your phone.
3. Blog about your favorite places.
If you have a blog, write up a stories about the places you love. Share pictures, and tell about the interactions you’ve had with their staff and other customers. Make sure you mention the business by name and link to their website if they have one.
4. Tweet about them.
If they have a twitter account, make sure you follow them. Then, just like on Facebook, you can tag them by typing up a tweet and tagging them with @ and their username (no spaces after the @). Even large companies have a real person behind the twitter account, and chances are high if you tag them they will retweet it to their list of followers as well.
Even if the company doesn’t have a twitter account you can still tweet your love. “Had the best coffee at Ella’s coffee shop in Lowell.” Include a photo in your tweet too. Photos get a lot of attention anywhere you post. People don’t have the time or attention span to read a long post, but they will look at a fun or yummy photo!
Even if you just do one of the above items, you’re voice counts!
Do you have any other ideas? How do you help support and spread the word about local places you love?