Small Business Blogging

My experience blogging about small business over the last couple of months has really opened my eyes to the importance of the medium. Tracking local entrepreneurs, and discussing how social media can increase their business has been an amazing experience. Small businesses in there nature are already community orientated. By taking that community outlook, and extending it to social media efforts, small business owners can expand their reach exponentially.

 

Below are 3 ways that blogging about your small business, can help you gain more insight, and hopefully in the long run gain new customers.

 

  1. Establishing your self as an expert in your chosen field. Blogging provides an open, and immersive forum to share your knowledge on a subject that is important to you. If you are a small business, that often means you are passionate about a smaller niche product, or service, that other’s want expert information on. Sharing your knowledge through blogging is a great way to engage, and enlighten potential customers by a building a community of like-minded people.

 

  1. Dive into the blogosphere, and use feedback to refine content. All blogging activities should be seen as an opportunity to refine your content, and narrow down your niche target audience. Be proactive, and define metrics, that you feel are important to your business. By defining your metrics before you start tracking you’ll be able to streamline your refinement process.

 

  1. Actively seek out new information, by reading other blogs. Blogging has been around for many years now, and that means there is probably a lot of information out there that is similar to your postings. By reading other blog’s and learning the best practices for more experienced user, you will get better at creating content. That being said give credit where credits due, be sure to provide links and reference to ideas that you do reuse.

 

Get out there and find your voice! Every small businessperson had to take a leap of faith when starting his or her endeavor in the first place. Blogging is just another calculated risk, which can have a big return on investment for your business.

Tracking social media sentiment for local businesses

Hi all,

 

This week I have challenged myself to track the social media impact of a local small business that I admire, Save-on-meats.   Save-on-meats, is a wonderful restaurant, and butcher shop, that is located in Vancouver’s downtown east side. Founder, and serial entrepreneur, Mark Brand has create an awesome gathering place that gives back to the community through various social programs.

As the theme of this blog is highlighting small, and local business, this exercise is a great example of how to see what the world wide web is saying about your brand.

Here we go. I started by running the Save-on-meats brand name through howsociable.com, a website that rate a brand on the number of mentions it receives on certain social media sites.

 

Yikes!! Seemingly not the best score, but to give some perceptive Nike achieved a 7.7 magnitude. The second tracking site I visited was socialmention.com here are the results.

 

This provided a little more insight into what’s being said about Save on meats online. Save on meats being a small, well known in the community, but not well known outside of Vancouver brand I figure I would have to look elsewhere for more relevant measurement tools.

I decided to keep it local, searching for local mentions of Save on meats, by the highest rated Vancouver food bloggers. I rated their sentiment to obtain an overall score.

 

Ratings key:

+1 Positive comment

0 neutral comment

-1 negative comment

 

Conversation 1:

Despite their location, Save-On-Meats is a great place to get a burger and food in general. My only suggestion is that you should double up on the patty and make sure you really build the burger your way. I suggest this only because the standard build of burger is only around $8-9 and if you really stack up the patties and extras, the burger is really only going to cost you about $11-13, which is what you can expect at other places for a good burger.

Positive sentiment +1

Conversation 2:

I was pretty excited about the Save on Meats burger, having read about it now from many food bloggers, food critics and Twitter feeds. This is a no-nonsense, no frills burger, just meat, cheese, tomato, lettuce, a thick piece of bacon, sauce which was ketchup mixed with mayo and a soft, toasted burger bun. All held together with a huge toothpick stabbed through half a pickle. The top bun wasn’t artistically placed at a slant and brushed with butter to shine like at Romer’s Burger Bar. This was a real dive burger. And I loved it!

Positive sentiment: +1

Conversation 3:

The Good:

– It has got history

– Reasonable prices

– Friendly people

The Bad:

– Other than the burger, the food is hit and miss

– Well, some people might be turned off by the location (I’m not…)

Neutral comment: 0

Conversation 4:

Not the best food around town, but it’s decent. Definitely think Save On Meats is definitely big on nostalgia: the pricing, the sizes and perhaps maybe the prep and taste of their food.

Neutral sentiment: 0

Conversation 5:

Overall, we all agreed they had fun desserts and amazing milkshakes. One problem we had were the varying portion sizes and how hard it was to figure out if that dish would fill you up. A few items were a hit and miss, but you can’t go wrong with the Ribs or the Save on Meats Burger.

Neutral sentiment: 0

Conversation 6:

Yes for a cheap but tasty diner meal.

Positive comment: +1

Conversation 7:

It is not just a cheap burger it is a dam good burger. As for greasy burgers go, it ranks at the top, I would say better than Veras.

Positive sentiment: +1

Conversation 8:

I was so busy having a good time, however, I forgot to explore the other side where the butcher shop and take-out window are located, delivering the already infamous $1.50 breakfast sandwich. I may have to abandon my “new places only” practice to return and try this signature item.

Positive sentiment +1

Conversation 9:

I’ve always said that dining should be an experience. This is a Vancouver must in my books. At the end of my meal my bill came to $13.09. That’s with an entree, dessert and a drink. Not to shabby.

Positive comment +1

Comment 10:

We all enjoyed our meal here. The atmosphere was very laid back and the staff were friendly. This was a good place to get cheap traditional diner food in the neighbourhood.

Positive sentiment +1

 

Overall score: 7/10

Save on meats had great reviews on the most influential food blog’s in Vancouver. If I was to do this exercise again I might choose to include the comments, of the average customer, via yelp reviews or Urban Spoon. Using the consumer as opposed to a food blogger would give another set of useful quantitive data to help refine social media practices.

Word on the street is Save on meats has one of the cheapest, and best burger’s around, get down to this local landmark.

 

 

 

Hi Everyone,

Over the weekend I read a very interesting article about the maturation of the Geolocation platform. Heres a video I made explaining a strategy of targeting niche Geolocation apps to increase a small businesses exposure in this realm. Hope you enjoy. Cheers.

Niche Geolocation

I recently attended a 2-week intensive course, at BCIT on the subject of sustainable events management. We spent 2 very fun activities, filled weekends discussing, and sustainability initiatives to implement, at different types of events. My unique perspective (being as I was the only male in a class of 25) leads me to recognize the connections between sustainable practices in events, the industry I currently work and small businesses. Every aspect such as sustainable supply chain management, waste management, is concerns that pertain to both industries. I spent a lot of time delving into a ton of great sustainable company’s in my local community, and have complied a top ten list of some of my favourites.

1. Fareware: (www.fairware.com):

Fareware specializes in sourcing sustainable and ethically promotional products. They dig deep in supply chains, going as far as visiting factories in remote parts of the world to make sure those workers are being fairly treated. Anything purchased by fairware is completely audited, from the zipper’s on their apparel to the rubber gasket on their stainless steel water bottles, they can tell you where in the world its made, the materials used, and the working conditions of the person who made it.

 2. De brand: (debrand.ca):

De Brand responsibly recycles corporate waste, they will take old promotional and advertising materials such as uniforms and up cycle them into something useful. Corporate logos are removed form materials, before DE brand gives them a second life. DE brand created a Lululemon sponsored lounge in Jack pool plaza using up cycled yoga mats as cushions, and even turned duffle bag straps into a hammock.

 

 3. Two rivers: (www.tworiversmeats.ca):

Two Rivers is an ethical, and sustainable meat company whose concept was conceived in an old school bus that the founders were living in, beside the kicking horse river.   Since the unlikely inception they have grown to represent over 20 farms.   The core of this business is the strict values that the company was founded on, values that include locally produced, sustainably raised, and probably most important delicious meats. You can find these tasty proteins at down town restaurants, such as the Alibi room, and Aphrodite’s café in Kits.

 

 4. Commonthreads (www.commonthreadcoop.ca):

Common threads are a non-profit society that repurposes old advertising, such as banners, signage into new products. Vancouver 2010 banners were sewn into tote bags, and instantly became a collector’s item in Vancouver. Common threads diverse workforce includes new comers to Canada, and the mentally ill. A Commons thread is sewing with a purpose, giving back to the community, and it residents.

 

5. Greenworks (www.greenworksbuildingsupply.com):

Green works is the source for sustainable environmentally friendly building supplies in Vancouver. Offerings, such as non-toxic paints, flooring, and counter top there a one-stop show for all your Green building needs. Green works high standards in sourcing ethical, and sustainable suppliers makes them the go to company for green building materials.

 

6. The Juice Truck (thejuicetruck.ca):

Vancouver is all about the juice cleanse, and the guys behind The Juice truck are the originals. They were the first company in Canada to do cold pressed juice extraction, which means the juice isn’t heated up which occurs with other juicing methods, causing nutrient loss. The eye catching pink truck is usually parked in Gastown, and the devoted can be seen lining up to grab there organic locally sourced juices.

 

7. Culver city salads (www.culvercitysalads.com):

Who knew vegan food could taste so good, that’s what the team behind the Culver City salad food truck, and delivery service has set out to showcase to its Vancouver audience. Each homemade salad is packed with locally sourced veggies, and all come from sustainable sources. Eating vegan is one of the best ways to be sustainable, and no one makes being Vegan taster or more approachable. Check their Twitter feed to find out where the green truck is doling out its tasty vegan fare.

8. Western reclaimed (westernreclaimed.com):

This maple ridge based company specializes in repurposing reclaimed timbers and other building materials, to make unique retail spaces, barn wood desks, and reclaimed furniture. Sourcing their materials for historic landmarks like the Yale hotel on Granville St. preserves the city’s history, and gives new life to materials that would traditionally be thrown away. Their motto “Yesterday story, building tomorrow’s dreams,” sums up the great mindset behind this sustainable Vancouver outfit.

9. The Soap Dispensary (thesoapdispensary.com):

One of the biggest strain on our environment is our addiction to plastic, The soap Dispensary, aims to reduce our plastic problem, by offering refills on everyday products such as soap, and laundry detergent. Located on main St. this boutique store offers natural soaps, and cleaners that can are showcased is refillable bottles. When you run our of any cleaner just bring back the attractive bottles to this little storefront, and refill them.

10. Spud (www.spud.ca):

Spud provides home delivery of fresh organic sustainable produce and products to your front door. They pride themselves on sourcing their products from local sources whenever possible, and give back to the community through community garden projects.

 

Sustainable Living in Vancity

Keep it clear, for the most part.

Your social media efforts are intertwined with your business practices and the values of which your brand stands for. Never before have the consumers held the power to disseminate information (good or bad) about your product or service to such a huge audience. Values, the core of any good business, must include a transparency aspect, a promise to honestly disclose the action and practices of your business. Relationship building is the key to fostering a healthy online following, and the key to any good relationship is open communication. Gone are the days when “no comment,” was good enough. Consumers now have the power and they will hold you to account.

A great example of an IMC campaign that includes a highly interactive website is the award winning McDonald’s “Our food. Your questions.” In my mind there probably isn’t a company that had more rumors and misconceptions surrounding their product offerings than McDonald’s did. In the world of faceless mega corporation’s McDonald’s opaqueness, and secretive practice’s were on par with most tobacco companies. Opening their doors to the public, and engaging with consumer’s questions directly is a huge change for them, and ultimately culminated in a change in public perception.   Rumors of pink goo, chicken feet, and unseemly beef parts were put to rest. Lets be honest, everyone knows that McDonald’s isn’t good for you, but by being transparent about what’s in their products, I feel a little less guilty about eating their food.

The McDonald’s example is a huge campaign that cost millions to produce, and was meant for a global audience to change global opinions. Small businesses can take warning of the lessons presented in the McDonald’s case by being proactive about their transparency. This article by Mark Sickles has a great info graphic that shows how transparency affect’s you, and your business in the social media medium. The “bones,” of your business are open for the world to see through social media, and business owners need to take care to show their businesses values to the world.   Being proactive about their brand starts with creating an honest dialogue with the consumer. Where the McDonald’s campaign was created to address negative PR, businesses owners need to be on top of transparency from the get go. Today consumers are going to expect communication via their favorite mediums, and honest, entertaining, and relevant content from their favorite brands.   Starting the conversation gives you some semblance of control over at least the initial content, and this is where you can showcase your businesses values.

Is there a thing as too much transparency you ask? I believe that this is the wrong question to be asking. Social media for a business should represent first and foremost the business itself. If your brand is you, then personalize, and share your opinions. If you work for a business, the values of the brand come first when creating social media content.

The important thing to remember is that you’re under a microscope; every tweet you send or blog post you write will have an effect on your business. In the old school business world you were to keep personal opinions, out of the work place, now a days as you build your brands identity your personal values should be part of your business. If you care about the environment, and your business takes a stance on environmental issues then donate to help the environment. This kind of positive action, is a much better idea than writing an inflaming rant directed at environmentally harmful products.   Stick to your morals, and values above all but find positive ways to further them. You don’t always have to be completely clear with your opinion on every subject. Sometimes a little opacity is ok; nothing is ever black or white, its ok to live in the grey, as long as your actions are based on honest values.

McDonalds (Our food. Your questions):

(http://yourquestions.mcdonalds.ca/)

Mark sickles (social media transparency):

http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/social-media-marketing/social-media-transparency-infographic/

Intro

Hi all,

My name is Casey Waugh and I’m currently working in the events marketing industry, while working part time towards a Communications marketing certificate. While not self employed at the moment I have always thought of myself as having an entrepreneurial business mindset. My goal in life is to be self employed, and I want to share my passion for small business through this blog. This blog will showcase brand’s, and marketing campaigns that I admire, as well as my thoughts on current small business issues. As someone working in the live music and event marketing industry my life revolves around music so expect to see post’s showcasing my favourite artists. Thanks for reading. Cheers.