Digital Media

Lending a Helping Hand: What Happens When Your Friends Start Asking for Social Media Advice?

by Jake Wengroff 09 Mar 2011
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A few weeks ago, friends of mine who own a small business in downtown San Antonio’s Riverwalk area, casually asked me, “Jake, can you help us with our social media?” 

So on a Monday night, I agreed to come over and help them. My pay:  a steak dinner.

They own a small shop, En Fuego Sauce & Salsa, which they started last year.  Granted, these two guys are already very tech savvy, and so they had already figured out that they needed to create a Facebook page and Twitter account – and then link the two to facilitate messaging. 

We did, however, discuss the traditional marketing problem – and new media headache – of content:  what to say, how to say it, and when?

But the best way to find content, of course, is to have your customers provide it for you.  Having customers post positive feedback and comments can be the lifeblood of any business and so our discussion extended to how to convert foot traffic in the store into mass bloggers and Twitterers.

As such, I threw it out there, “Are you on Foursquare?”

Foursquare, Facebook Places, and other geolocation check-in mobile apps  offer virtual rewards and real-world discounts for checking in at local businesses and sharing their activities with their network – though all the while, the merchant is keeping tabs on who is interacting with their site and how. 

Foursquare’s popularity grows unabated.  According to TechCrunch, the service crossed 7 million user IDs recently, and continues to partner with large brands and celebrities, including chef and restaurateur Mario Batali.

Unfortunately, the numbers don’t check in at all:  subscribers using the services are relatively few and far between. A Pew Internet & American Life Project survey published last year reported that only 4 percent of online adults use “geosocial” location-based services to check in at merchants, and only 1 percent of users check in on any given day.  For all of the media buzz and venture capital attention surrounding the space, this is pitiful.

But I digress.  I do think geolocation is going to sophisticate itself in the next year, extending itself to the business audience by encouraging check-ins at conferences and meetings, and use its growing database to provide even more value for merchants (varying the coupon amounts by location, for example).

Getting back to my friends and their store:  I am happy to help them and share my knowledge, because it helps both ways.  They get free advice, and I can see if my advice holds true.  They can provide me with valuable feedback, which I can use with paying clients (or in blogposts).  Maybe I’ll ask for some salsa next time.


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