Wawa’s the buzz on Facebook?

From my NETT blog:

When discussing social media for small business, people often tell me “a Facebook page is fine for big companies and major brands who have an army of people and something to say, but I’m a small business. What on earth do I have to say that would make my customers want to connect with me while they’re chatting with their friends?”

They’re correct that Facebook is an effective investment for brands like Coke (22 million fans – NB, their page was started by fans, not the company), Starbucks (20 million), Oreo (17 million) or Red Bull (16 million).

But smaller, localised brands can have great success, as well. eMarketer reports that local businesses make up 17.6% of Facebook pages, making it the largest category. Large companies come in 6.3%, behind general interest pages and pages for musicians. Products, meanwhile, lag behind at 3 per cent.

I was at a digital marketing conference in the US recently where they mentioned the Facebook success of Wawa, a chain of service stations based in Pennsylvania with branches across five states on the US eastern seaboard. While they’re not strictly a small business, Wawa is a bricks-and-mortar business (you can’t buy petrol online) with a specific local market, a potential customer base that would number only several million people. Their Facebook page, meanwhile, has 600,000 fans – a staggering percentage of their entire target market. How do they do it?

One thing to consider is that they’ve been doing social media for a long time. They were using social media tools like Livejournal back when Facebook was only a gleam in Mark Zuckerberg’s (or was it the Winklevoss twins’?) eye.

As a result, they have nailed the raison d’etre for Facebook pages, which applies whether you’re a multinational or a hyperlocal. As eMarketer says, “Engagement, interest and constant connection keep fans coming back to a company’s Facebook fan page.”

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New ways to make Jan happy

From my NETT blog:

Most of you would remember the Yellow Pages “Not happy, Jan” ads from a few years ago, where an assistant was avoiding her boss because the Yellow Pages had just come out and she had forgotten to book the company’s ad. As she scurries down the street, the boss spies her and shouts out the window, “Not happy, Jan!”

It was a really memorable campaign (I still hear that phrase in common use), and it highlighted how critical it was to have your business listed in the one directory that was in every home and every business. And what a money-spinner for Telstra; they charged like a wounded bull for Yellow Pages listings, and you grumbled but shelled out the money because it was the only game in town.

How the mighty have fallen! If you want to find out not only a company’s address and phone number, but opening hours, complete product line and ways to buy, you now jump on the Web. Meanwhile, Yellow Pages are used as doorstops or are ending up in recycling bins as soon as they’re delivered, while Telstra is resorting to buying Chinese companies and doing deals with the government on the national broadband roll-out to keep its shares out of the basement (yes, I bought shares in T2 at several times their current value and no, I’m not bitter about it).

So you no doubt have a website and, if you’re a keen reader of this esteemed publication, you have optimized your site to make sure those customers who formerly relied on the Yellow Pages can still easily find your business. But are you prepared for the mobile web?

Take this test: grab a smart phone (if you don’t have one, borrow one from one of your children) and type in your web address. What do you see? Chances are, you won’t like it – particularly if you use Flash on your website.

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