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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

Monday, Nov. 16, 2009

Socially Active

By Sherri Collins

Editor, Pet Product News International

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock (with no WiFi access—gasp!) for the past year or so, you’re well aware of the ongoing surge in social media tools. From blogs to wikis to social networks to tweets, everyone seems to have something to say and a way to share it--be it to an exclusive group of people or the public at large. For many, social media is a great way to keep in touch with diverse sets of friends and acquaintances, but it can also be an inexpensive way for you, as retailers and business owners, to reach out to existing customers and find new ones.

Mashable.com (a social media guide) posted a report from Lauren Fisher of Simply Zesty (an online PR and social media agency) on five small companies that are using various social media tools to help them expand their reach and grow their businesses. While none of the five is in the pet industry, their Internet-based social activity is easily adaptable.

Kogi BBQ is a mobile food truck that uses Twitter to tell its followers where it will be next. Something a mobile groomer or any door-to-door service provider (dog walkers, pooper-scoopers, etc.) could do as well: “I’m here & I have 2 openings between 2 & 4.” It’s a simple and effective way to let your customers know when and where you’ll be—and it could gain you additional business.

Do you foursquare? (no, not the game or dance, but the phone app) “foursquare?” you say, ‘yep,’ say I. It’s a really cool social app for those who are, well, socially active. Foursquare users “check in” their whereabouts and foursquare then lets your friends know where you are and offers recommendations on where else to go. Users can earn points, offer up tips and unlock them from others, and even become mayor of establishments if they are the most frequent visitors. The Marsh Café, via a poster in its window, offers free drinks to its foursquare Mayor. And it’s not the only establishment to do so. At last count, the foursquare website lists 161 official venue partners offering various freebies to mayors. What a great way to drive repeat business and generate buzz about your store. By simply offering the foursquare mayor an award, such as a bag of food or $10 off a service, you can generate goodwill and boost customer visits.

The other three businesses cited, Duke of York’s Picturehouse, Wiggly Wigglers (a garden equipment and worm composter retail business) and howies, (an organic clothing company), use a compelling blend of Web 2.0 functions (such as forums, blogs, video, podcasts, etc.) as well as Twitter and Facebook to keep their customers and their communities continually engaged. All it took was a little time and some creative thinking—oh and not being socially inactive troglodytes.

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