Social Media is Haute (Couture)

Social Media gives your business a voice.  Here is Part 1 of a 2 Part Series on Social Media and Small Business. 

Situation/Background:
It wasn’t too long ago that a business without a website was considered a “no-no”.  Even a one page site with contact information was better than nothing at all.  Now it is social media.  It is imperative that companies that sell products or services have an online presence on at least one social media platform.

If you think about it, as a business you are supposed “know your audience”.  What better way to get to know them than by using social media tools to connect, build relationships and have one-on-on conversations with?

Today, having an online presence for any business is a must. Most likely that is where your audience is or potential target market exists.  Yet many businesses fail to create a social media persona because they don’t see the value added.  There are many ways to gauge the success of your presence.  All you have to do is set up an account(s). It’s just a matter of doing it.  For a Facebook page all you need is 30 people to like that page to utilize the analytical tracking tool called “Insights”.  Google Analytics is another great tool to use as well.

Plum Consignment and Half Baked Café are two Beverly businesses that utilize social media to their advantage.  They know where their audience is, what social media tools work for them and how to utilize these tools to capture their audience.  In this post I will focus on Plum Consignment.  Stay tuned for Part 2 focusing on Half Baked Café.

plum consignment logo

Plum Consignment
156 Cabot Street, Beverly. MA

Who is Plum Consignment?
They are a unique consignment shop offering a different experience than what you are used to.  The shop is spotless (no smell of moth balls or dust bunny sightings!), the racks are impeccably organized, and the prices are amazing! (About Plum Consignment)

When they opened:
June 2012 – Almost 10 months

Website:
8 pages, 1 image
www.plumconsignment.com

plum consignment shopSocial Media Accounts:
Facebook: 747 Friends
Instagram: 120 Followers, 549 photos
Twitter: 112 Followers, 1,249 Tweets
Yelp: 5 Stars 10 Reviews
Pinterest: 81 Followers, 10 Boards, 458 pins

Total Fab Club: 1, 070


What makes Plum Consignment unique:
The use of Instagram.
Plum has a unique style that is consistently reflected in everything from the logo, to the appearance of the store, to the items they sell to their online persona.  Consignment owner Pam Hulbert takes photos of newly consigned items with Instagram on her phone.  She uses a consistent Instagram effect that further promotes the image and style of her brand.  In addition, her Instagram account is linked to her Facebook and Twitter, further reducing the time and hassle posting to each of these mediums individually.

In addition Pam uses Pinterest, to promote her knowledge of fashion, her sense of style and to promote the pieces in the store. Thanks to the special Instagram effect she uses, it is easy to differentiate which clothes are for sale and which are the ones that influence her.

Why using social media helps Plum Consignment.  Pam’s business is image based.  She wants to attract a specific following; the chic consigners and shoppers.  It states right on her website “No Mom Jeans”.  Image is everything for her business.  Since the nature of the business changes quickly, it makes sense that Pam doesn’t have many images on her website.  One crisp, clear image on her site embodies the experience you will have shopping at Plum Consignment.  Pam chooses to use social media to show off the latest fashions and finds that come into her shop.  Promotion of shop items is seen on her Facebook wall and Twitter feed. The majority of which are Instagram photos, sprinkled with news of incoming items, upcoming events, store news, etc.

plum consignment items

Pinterest is the #1 ECommerce social media platform and 82% of those who have Pinterest are women – Plum’s target audience! (http://powerofpinning.com) Until today, I have yet to see another business integrate Instagram in their strategy and brand promotion as well as Pam.  I say up until today because this video, “Small businesses are turning to the popular smart phone app Instagram to help drive traffic and entice shoppers” came across my social media feed this morning – after I wrote the first draft of this post.  This USA Today story focuses on a similar organization, using the same tool and finding similar success to Pam at Plum Consignment.

I contacted Pam and asked her why she chooses to use these tools and how they have helped her. Here is her response:

  1. How would you describe your business style and how has social media helped promote that?
    My business style is very customer-focused.  I want them to know how much I care about my business and appreciate every single one of them.  Without the consignors and shoppers, Plum wouldn’t be where it is today.  Social media helps me to reach a large mass of people very easily and is a great way to connect with people and let them know that there is a human behind the business.
  2. Why do you use social media?
    It’s a great way to show a mass of people “what your business is about” and a great way to get the attention of potential customers. It allows me to expand the walls of the store beyond its 4 walls.  I use it to feature new inventory, to peek people’s interest and let them know what going on in the shop.
  3. Do you prefer to use one over the other?
    I use Instagram and Facebook the most, but I look at all the other (Twitter, Instagram, Yelp and Pinterest) social media sites daily.
  4. Which one has the most user engagement?
    I see the most user engagement with Facebook and Instagram.
  5. How often do you use social media?
    Daily, at least a few times a day.
  6. Please explain how social media has helped Plum Consignment.
    It’s allowed me to let people know what to expect from my shop and connect with them on a more personal level.  It allows me to share the brand and personality of the shop beyond the physical street address.
  7. Are there specific ways you use social media to promote your business?
    My favorite thing to do is to post new items that I get into the shop. I also share articles, tips or news that I think my followers will find interesting. I mix it up with a little personal info every now and then, just to keep that close connection with my followers.
  8. How do you promote your accounts to generate more users?
    I have social media icon stickers on the front windows.  I’ve done a few Facebook paid ads and run specials for followers only.  I’m looking forward to using social media more in the future to generate more followers and continue to show the benefit of being a follower through contests, etc.  It’s been very encouraging to see how our following has grown organically as well.plum consignment sale 2
  9. Have you done social media promotions?  If so, please explain.
    I’ve offered special discounts and advance notice of sales to my followers.
  10. Have you used any other form of advertising?  If so, has it been beneficial?
    I’ve done some paid advertising for local community sites, but would not say that it was very beneficial.  I’ve posted flyers around town with local businesses and colleges and have had a lot of people mention that they found out about Plum from that.

Evaluation:
Social media gives your organization a voice, and as Pam states, helps her to reach beyond the 4 walls of her brick and mortar store.  Integrating social media is not that difficult once you find the right strategy.

It’s important to note, with any business, having a presence is one thing, but you need to 1.) Be consistently present and 2.) Have an audience that is willing to listen.

Social media promotion is something that is often overlooked.  Each social media platform has a unique audience and specific use.  It’s a matter of finding the right key to unlock your social media success. What works for one, may not work for all, but knowing your audience and where they are is half the battle.

Thank to Pam for taking time to answer my questions and give us a peek inside her social marketing strategy!

Remember! Stay tuned for Part 2 focusing on Half Baked Café.

File Under: Social Media is Haute (Couture)

Sources:
http://plumconsignment.com/
http://plumconsignment.com/about/
http://powerofpinning.com
USA Today “Small businesses are turning… shoppers”

Images Sources:
www.facebook.com/PlumConsignment
http://plumconsignment.com/