Any self-proclaimed and self-serving social media guru in this day and age will tell you that the key to success in online business is to make your own Facebook fan page. Never mind that it’s not free (the times you spend updating your page all translate to labor costs), that you’ll spend a lot of time and money making portals (digital does not thrive on Facebook fan pages alone), or that even the biggest businesses with the biggest pages do not necessarily know what they’re doing on Facebook outside of gathering fans, or having more fans than the other brand (there, I said it).
Still, people flock towards the “F.” Brands now blend the “Find us on Facebook” mantra into the marketing mix, and force the “social media” thingy into the brand DNA. Which begs the question: if brands want us to “Find” them on Facebook, then there must be smaller brands and businesses out there that try their darndest, or have tried their darndest, to cut through the noise of digital and actually bring business into their places. They may not have the big marketing budgets of brands or the creative and technical capital of agencies and suppliers, but still, I found ’em on Facebook.
Your friendly neighborhood laundry shop is probably the last place that you’ll think of when someone says “Facebook fan page.” While Violet Laundry Shop was not updated for over a year now, they’re first to be there way before brands started making their own pages with fancy apps and all sorts of things. In many ways, what Violet Laundry Shop was doing two years ago is what many of us would probably be doing right now.
Violet Laundry Shop was branding their page two years ago, when many other bigger brands still had no idea how they could make their page theirs. Plus, they announced their Loyalty Card promo way before everyone else had a loyalty incentive for consumers and customers.
I wouldn’t know where they are now, but for a small wash-dry-fold outlet without the multi-million peso marketing budget of bigger companies, their laundry list is almost just right.
Every now and then I have to hear the words “complete social media mix” from clients and colleagues alike. While we can debate over the difference between “tools” and “strategies” all day, I think that it’s not a matter of how good the hammer is, or what kind of nail you use, or how aligned the hammerhead is to the nail’s head when you strike it. For me, it’s a matter of having purpose in all that hammering.
Why a funeral chapel would have a social media presence is not something I can answer yet (maybe for the e-Burol service, I do not know), but if there’s any one thing you can find on their Facebook page, website, and Twitter profile, it’s positive sentiment. People have nothing but good things to say about St. Peter, the sellers of the life plan do it quite well (albeit rough around the edges), and in their own way, they’re generating buzz (BINGO!) for their brand. It’s not one for the sake of having one, but purpose: the hope that maybe, just maybe, this funeral chapel can sell some plans online.
So in the case of St. Peter, it’s about making sense of why they’re online: it’s not a matter of being there just because. While there still can be a lot done for St. Peter, in a whole flock of Facebook-ed brands, they’re doing a few things better than others.
And in the course of a day looking through Facebook pages I found a lot more small businesses trying to get a piece of digital gold: sewing machine repairmen being open about prices, buy-one-take-one lechon manok, free half-liempo for fans, tantalizing pictures of food, e-retailer programs, and appreciative thank-you’s from the owners of the businesses themselves. Or just being genuinely nice people to get people to like them so that they’d bring more business to their doors. What they lack perhaps in training or budget or digital sensibilities, they make up in people skills. And really, shouldn’t that be a big part of what we do?
Now I’m not an expert, a guru, or whatnot: I’m just a guy who has put in a couple of years into a profession that requires me to know and learn from digital. Most would look through the case studies of big companies to make mammoth, gargantuan, labyrinthine campaigns when simplicity is often the best way to go about things. That even we can learn from what we would consider failures, small fry, or non-players. Yet even in that glint of success that they can boast – Violet’s Laundry Shop being the first to brand, and Saint Peter Life Plan to say that they’re better integrated than others – those who claim expertise and guru-hood may learn. That there’s more to it than making pages and getting fans.