When we started our metal art small business, Sunriver Metal Works, we had no idea what social media meant or how it might impact our business. Over a year later, we have a better idea of what it is, but the jury is still out on the long term impact it will have. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube could help our business grow, but the building of fans, leads, and potential customers takes considerable planning and effort.
Organic vs Paid
The majority of our business during the latter part of 2013 was what social media experts call “organic“. We participated in 3 shows and sold products at 4 businesses in Sunriver and Bend. The Hook Fly Shop and Wildflowers Consignment (no longer in business) not only made sales for us, but also brought new custom work to us. We wrote about 17′ fish themed loft panels in the blog post “Gone Fishing“. Bob and Leslie had seen our Diamond Trout functional wall art at The Hook Fly Shop.
The donations we made to the Upper Deschutes River Coalition brought more work our way. The Traditions Holiday Marketplace at Sunriver that we participated in made December a very busy month for us. We also had contacts through our website, many resulting in sales. Sunriver Brewing Company commissioned us to create light valances, tasting trays, and tap handles for them in the new brewery, based on the work we produced and the relationship built during our two years in Sunriver.
Building Social Media Presence
You might wonder then why I have spent time trying to build a social media presence. I could respond – because the experts told me we needed to. The answer is, however, because I see the value in it. I’m not convinced that we need to be on all platforms. And we certainly won’t rely solely on social media for business. But I do see the potential for using each platform to explore relationships, make friends, develop a loyal customer base, and find potential customers. It’s all about sharing and letting people know who you are. You don’t need to share personal information. You just need to be real.
And sometimes, you will be surprised. I was taking an online Pinterest course and found myself chatting with another Facebook group member (who happened to be my roommate from the early 1970’s in Madison, Wisconsin!!!). We had not seen each other for nearly 40 years. Yet – we met again, on Facebook. “It’s a small world” doesn’t even come close to the surprise and amazement I experienced that day. Without social media and interest in learning more about it, we probably would have never re-connected after all these years.
What Is Social?
Mike and I have strengthened friendships, met many new friends, and come out of our shell while posting and sharing in this new social world. We don’t limit ourselves only to electronic friendships. We have developed friendships with people in the local community. Also, we have ventured out of our comfort zone both in developing our business and in planning our future. By default, we have become more social.