The power of Social Media

This blog post is entirely about the how social media helps businesses and was shared in a Google+ post by Robert Scoble.

A note to my brother, Ben Scoble, the bar owner in Virginia
I've been studying how businesses work online and you are missing an opportunity to get more customers. A big opportunity.

You might say "I have enough customers" or "my customers aren't online." (His bar is in Virginia, where he perceives that not many of his users are online, although I notice he's been on Facebook and Foursquare a little more lately, so is starting to sense something is going on).

My number one advice? Tell a story.

What's a story? Well, from what I can figure out, his story is "Benny's Tavern is a fun place to hang out."

So, how would I tell that story?

First, you gotta do the basics. What are they?

1. Figure out what your story is and make everyone in your place of business stick to the story in EVERY interaction they have. So, if it really is a fun place (and if that really is your story) decide it and incent your employees to stick to the story (give out prizes to your employees, fire people who don't make every interaction fun, and figure out how to communicate fun at every turn).

2. Figure out how you are going to measure fun. If you don't measure fun, you won't have fun. And you can measure it. Just ask +Tony Hsieh of Zappos about that one!

3. Focus all of your attention to making the experience of interacting with you fun.

So, now that you have your story straight, let's talk about how to make it possible for people to find you.

I can't find a website for your place.
I don't see you on Yelp.
I don't see you on Foodspotting.
I don't see that you have a real URL on Facebook. Hint: is NOT a real URL (that's Benny's Facebook URL).

You aren't on Twitter.
You aren't on Google+.

You aren't in Google in any big way. When I did a Google search for "Benny's Tavern colonial heights va" I ended up on a MySpace page (bad story, MySpace is misery for people who want a hamburger and a beer and some fun with friends). Click here to see the search.

So, no one can figure out online that you have the most fun bar in Virgina. Heck, they can't even find you because you aren't online.

I went to Foursquare. Searched for your bar and found this page: Foursquare page Does it have any pictures? No. Does it have any customers who sound fun? No. Well, one, "Vanessa A." says "Love this friggin bar." Now THAT is something you can build on.

So, let's see how we can get more Vanessa A.'s to tell other people online how cool your bar is.

1. Make it easy for your customers to find you. Get a damn domain name and a damn website. Put your menu on it. Put your address, your hours, your phone number, a story about yourself and what your philosophy of running a bar is. Tell some goofy story.

2. Use tools that get into Google (the search engine). Hint: that's not MySpace or Facebook. Those tools are Blogger and Google+ and Picasa. (Yes, I know the pros here will argue with me and tell me other tools like Squarespace, Posterous, Wordpress, or Jimdo. Fine, here's a video on Jimdo: Jimdo helps small businesses make great websites Use that, it's quite nice and will help you build a home base).

3. Now, on that page, start hooking in your story. I've been in some fun bars, here's some attributes:

1. They have alcohol. So, put on there what kind of alcohol you have. Do you have an especially "fun" drink you make? Play it up! Put pictures, show people consuming it. Show people, consuming it, having fun! Again, stick to your story.

2. They have music. I know you do too. So, put a calendar of what bands and what kind, they are. Include links to their videos on YouTube. MySpace sucks for this stuff. The guy who started MySpace is +Tom Anderson and even HE isn't on MySpace anymore (hint, he's on Google+, shows you where the action is!)

3. They have games. The bar I go to in San Antonio has trivia every Tuesday night. You should SEE the people having fun.

4. They have goofy drinking games, usually karaoke. This might not work in Virginia, but it seems to work in most of the bars I've been to.
5. They have fun costumes for the waitstaff. Photos, photos!
6. They have fun staff. Make a video with your cook and show how much fun this guy has. Heck, if he hates his job, I'm sure there's SOMETHING fun about him, right? After all, he hangs out with you. So, get him on video telling some fun story about what a goofball you are.

7. They have fun events. Does your local business association meet there every Tuesday morning? Are they having fun? If not, kick them out! If they are, get them on video talking about how much more fun their meetings are than any others they've been to.

OK, so now you are on the way to telling your story. Now's time to start asking your customers for something in return.
Ask them to:

1. Like you on Facebook.
2. Tweet about you (make sure to include your @name).
3. Yelp about you.
4. Foodspot about you (I know the Foodspotting folks will gasp in horror at the idea of a hamburger at a bar showing up, but I'd still do it, I use Foodspotting to find bars and hamburger joints all the time).
5. Foursquare you. The more people checked in the better (and make sure they check in on Facebook and Google+ too).
6. Write a story about you on Google+. Or, even better, ask them if it's OK to write a story about THEM having fun on Google+ (you did get video, right? Carry a little video camera everywhere).

Anyway, I thought about writing you a private note, but then I realized that we can all help you and that this kind of feedback might help some other business who is struggling with what to do online.

Here's a video from one of Silicon Valley's best restaurants, by the way. It's called "Bucks" and is where Hotmail was incorporated, amongst other famous Silicon Valley events. Notice how everything you see about Jamis SCREAMS fun!

Hope this helps.

Oh, and this will help you get ready for when Google+ adds brand pages. Coming soon I hear.

You can find the original post here. And yes Ben Scoble now has a Google+ And Robert Scoble again showed us the power of social media.
P.S: The tag cloud in the featured image section has been taken from daniel_iversen Flickr photo stream.

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Narottam Agarwala

 Narottam Agarwala

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