Editor's note: Katie Novotny, owner of the St. Paul Classic Cookie Co., originally posed this question in March. Below are additional thoughts, from another professor, on the fast-evolving world of social media.
Q I have been hearing a lot lately about businesses using social media as a way of marketing. What exactly are social media and what kinds are out there? What is the most effective way for a retail bakery like mine to use social media to reach out to our customers and find new ones?
A Social media is like getting together with your friends and talking about things that interest you; the difference is that it is through electronic media. Typical examples of social media are Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. Social media's popularity, in my opinion, is the result of a push by "Generation Y" or "Generation Millennium" to incorporate technology into everyday lives.
Since the main idea behind social media is to communicate virtually and have access to that communication at any time and place, it is ideal for marketing. OfficeMax pioneered social media marketing with a campaign during the holiday season called www.elfyourself.com. The site was a fun experiment to record your voice and upload pictures of the faces of your friends onto the body of a dancing elf, then sending that elf to friends. The site was interesting, easy to use and, most of all, exposed users to the name of the company. The campaign increased flow to the website and increased brand recognition during the holidays.
For a bakery, you could use social media with something as simple as a blog, where you can attract users to comment on ingredients or on baking. Incorporating a blog into your website is a tool to attract, interact and promote your products. Through blogging you can expand into the wider world of social and virtual environment, and all of its possibilities.
ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF MARKETING,
UNIVERSITY OF ST. THOMAS
OPUS COLLEGE OF BUSINESS