How much social media is too much? This is a question frequently heard from teachers and parents, who worry that their charges and children spend far too much time tweeting, texting, messaging, and facebooking (is that even a verb yet? Must be), but the question applies just as surely to businesses trying to establish relationships with customers using those same social media channels.
I realized that I was worrying too much about this when someone recently mentioned that Google+, tech giant Google’s foray into social media, was — in his opinion — destined to eclipse Facebook, and that any sane business owner should therefore jump in right now and establish a presence. My first response was to do just that: to create a Google+ page for the store. Never mind that I don’t myself use Google+ (although goodness knows I do use plenty of other offerings from Google), and that I have no friends and almost no family members who do either. This page would hardly be getting off to a flying start, since the whole point of social media is to connect folks and I had really no one to connect to, but I still felt anxiously compelled to create a page, lest we be somehow left behind.
I asked some colleagues for advice on this matter of which social media were necessary, and which could be kicked to the curb. Phil Wrzesinski, owner of Toy House & Baby Too in Jackson, MI, wisely said: “Pick one. Do that one extremely well. Forget all the others.” What’s that old saying? Jack of all trades, master of none. That’s what I don’t want to see happen. I don’t want to spend so much time on all these different avenues — Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest … the list really is almost endless — that I end up doing them all badly, while meanwhile neglecting other work.
So, although I’m not quite going to follow Phil’s advice and do only one, I’ve resolved to lighten up and concentrate on better doing those we already do. We already have a blog, which I enjoy writing, so I’m setting a goal to publish one new post — no, let’s stretch the point and make that two new posts — per week for the next month. I’m also posting much more regularly on the store’s Facebook page, since customers seem to like it. And I’ll still use Twitter to highlight great deals or extraordinary events, kind of like the 21st century equivalent to those Kmart Blue Light Specials of the seventies. And Pinterest … I do kind of like Pinterest, but I confess I enjoy it more as an electronic scrapbook and memory aid (that’s a shout-out to Erin Blanton of Pufferbellies Toys in Staunton, VA, who explained how Pinterest could open up a world of store design ideas to those of us chained to our desks in small towns far, far from the magic of Fifth Avenue in NYC, Regent Street in London, or Saint-Germain in Paris.)
There’s no question that social media allow us to interact with our customers in new and exciting ways (go on, friend us on Facebook! The little blue button is right above this post!) and that it behooves (isn’t that a great word?) us retailers to use these technologies both wisely and well. Here at Scalliwag Toys, we’ll try to do just that, without spamming your in-box or prompting you to put us on “ignore”. Because, in the matter of social media as in every other way, what you the customer want is what we need to give you — the best possible toy-shopping experience we can possibly give.