Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The good, bad and the ugly

I visited my favourite milkshake bar the other night. It’s fairly new, different from many other fast food places both in the image and design of the shop, the menu, the staff and the location for starters. In summary, they’ve got a lot of the basics such as product, price, place, people, physical environment right. Marketing 101.

They also have a lot of fans that I know locally (talking offline) - a bit of a cult following, especially amongst the local young/student population (makes sense, they’re up the road from the university).

What caught my eye this time was that they were advertising their facebook page all over the plasma screens in the shop. As I waited for my Oreo shake to be mixed, I had a browse on the iPhone. Checked in on 4sq (location listed but not owned), facebook page (150 odd fans), twitter (account with no presence) and started to chat to the owner.

We talked about the business – how it started, what they’re trying to do differently, plans for the future etc. All good background information. At which point the conversation moved on to the facebook page and social media in general - how it came about, why it came about, what was happening on it, what they were finding.

It evolved into a great example of things that should and shouldn’t be done when using social media, and it gave me the idea for this post. They were talking to their fans - responding, engaging, facilitating. All good things.

But there were some things they weren’t doing.

Sure a lot of these pointers might be obvious to some, repetitive to others…but when they’re still happening out there it means they need repeating.

1. The days of “a facebook page is all we need” are over

In the early days of fan pages and groups this may have been justifiable in some cases, but not anymore. A business that really wants to use the power of social media to spread their message, brand, business and get others to do that for them need to look wider than just a facebook fan page. Location based services, message boards, blogs, photo streams, twitter conversations…the whole spectrum.

2. It’s not just about online

For a business/concept/brand that has so many good things being said about them OFFLINE, to have barely 150 fans (at this time) on their ONLY web presence (no website either) is criminal. I know about “followers are folly, engagement is everything”, but there needs to be a minimum following, a critical mass level that you need to achieve to start getting your message spread.

Online needs to be integrated with offline, and my visit was evidence of that. I saw the facebook page advertised OFFLINE, and then took my interest ONLINE. Where I saw people talking about different shakes and experiences that then brought me back OFFLINE into the store again.

3. Get the basics right

I started my conversation with the manager by talking about the basics – the story of the business, the brand, their offering, their USP etc. Only then did it move to their SM presence. I don’t know whether this was how they thought when they set up their own presence, or whether they were advised accordingly by anyone, but it’s certainly a more methodical way of thinking that does work.

4. In 2010, having your own website is essential

Facebook and social media pages in general are too ubiquitous. It needs to feed back to an individual website where you can really show off your brand and image. Especially in this case where the company’s brand was so different. They had something really great to show off and could do so much with their own website but had it dressed around facebook’s standard blue/white.

5. Don’t do things for the sake of it.

A twitter page facilitating no conversations is pointless. A fan page with (relatively) few fans isn’t doing anything. It’s dead. This particular twitter feed is being streamed directly from facebook and some of it doesn’t make sense.


Referring to a menu tab on twitter is a clear example of facebook auto-feeding gone wrong. Sure with less than 10 followers it doesn’t mean anything, but in time, it could.

It made me think, and made me realise companies and brands are making these mistakes. The real social media and online winners will be the ones that get the basics right. I do love Archie’s and I hope they do manage to spread their word on social media. It’s exactly the kind of brand that could develop a great local social media following.

Anyone reading this in Manchester (UK) should check out Archie’s shakes on Oxford Road. See what you think. And have the Oreo shake if you do nothing else. It’s amazing!


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