Haircuts, Beer, Aggieville and Social Media
Posted by Reed Pankratz
In blog posts past I have listed and explained some of the countless benefits that social media offers and how to capitalize on those benefits. It does not take much to figure out that I am an advocate of social media. An advocate is “one that argues for a cause; a supporter or defender.” By that definition, I think it stands to reason that an advocate of social media would also be someone who does not support the improper, inefficient or ineffective use of social media. There are a variety of practices on social media that people consider improper, inefficient, ineffective and of course annoying. But a lot of what we see and read is telling everyone that their business has to be utilizing social media. I do believe that almost every business could benefit from social media but, as an advocate of social media I do not believe that every business has to be on social media.
The other day I noticed that I was a little shaggy behind the ears, so I decided it was time for a haircut. My walk to class everyday takes me through Aggieville, one of the oldest shopping districts in the state of Kansas and the home to K-State’s premier shopping, dinning and bar area. The past few times I needed my hair cut I have visited Campus Hair Styling which has been around for over 35 years. The inside looks like the day it was built, they even still have the leather strap used to sharpen old shaving blades. You can tell from the website that this place has character. Only three people work there and they have combined experience of over 80 years, 46 of them come from Roger the owner. The person that cuts my hair each time is Toni, who is a lovely lady that asks just enough questions to keep conversation flowing but not too many that it becomes annoying. Dylan, the other barber, usually has a younger client or a walk-in at his chair when I am there and Roger almost always has an older gentleman. I do a little listening in there because let’s be honest, barber shops are known for their conversation, and Roger always has a personal connection with the client, each transaction is sealed with a handshake and it is pretty common for the client to say, “See you in 4 weeks for my next one, Roger.” The place is doing well.
So, let’s summarize.
- Small shop
- Well established, consistent business
- Old school feel
- Three staff members
- Affordable service
- Consistent and quality service
- Sustainable customer relationships
Now, in addition to seeing so much about how every business has to be on social media, we also see a lot (and I believe this is true) about how it takes experience, time, planning and of course money to implement an effective social media strategy. For me, I just do not see Campus Hair Styling and social media lining up. It is fairly apparent from their website that they aren’t the most tech savvy, so learning the in’s and out’s of Facebook, Twitter or any social media platform could prove to have a fairly long learning curve. Their business model is successful and they don’t have a staff to devote to social media efforts. In the long run, if it is not going to improve customer relationships or improve their bottom line, then is there a reason for them to be active in the social space? So, carry on in your ways Campus Hairstyling, I will continue to get your $12 haircut from Toni regardless of if you tweet at me or not. And, I’ll do one better than a tweet and use WOM and recommend you to my friends.
That being said, there is certainly a space for small business on social media. I only need to go east on Moro St. to find two restaurants (owned by the same person with the same social strategy) that serve as an example of how small businesses can implement a social media strategy that doesn’t require a great amount of work but receives a good following and a lot of interaction. Taco Lucha and So Long Saloon, beyond selling some of the best tacos, burgers and a real mean blackberry bean dip, have created a good following for a small business. So Long Saloon has 2,226 likes on Facebook and 756 followers on Twitter. Taco Lucha (open only a couple of months) has 561 likes on Facebook and 360 followers on Twitter. Their strategy? Tweet and post their specials. Now, how much a “like” is worth is always in discussion but, they get retweeted, favorited, liked, commented on and make me hungry every time I see them. Not a lot of two conversation, but it is driving business. Fun fact, So Long Saloon was the largest distributor of Old Milwaukee in the U.S. This is partly due to the fact that they sell $2 Nancy’s (pineapple beer) which are a crowd favorite.
We’ve seen no social media, a minimalist approach and now let’s take a look at @AggievilleBars. Of course, there are many bars in Aggieville and while none of my favorite belong to Aggieville Bars, they are kind of kicking ass online. Aggieville Bars consists of Johnny Kaw’s, Shot Stop, Bomb Bar and coming soon, Chuggers. Each of them have their own Facebook page (I’m interested to see how their pages change with timeline) that serves as their website, all with well over 1,000 likes. They have hired a photographer to take pictures every Thursday, Friday and Saturday and post “Aggieville Aftermath” pictures to their pages. Tag yourself in the photos and you’ve got a shot to win free drinks. Their Twitter account, @AggievilleBars has nearly 3,000 followers and they are constantly getting mentioned, retweeting and getting retweeted. They are a small business that has embraced social media because it makes sense for their target market and they have seen great success because of it.
Now I know you are dying to know my favorite bars. My favorite bars are Porter’s and Aggie Station.Porter’s owns a couple other bars and they do pretty well in the social space. Aggie Station is pretty quiet online right now, but they just opened up this year. I don’t go to either of them for what they do online. I hardly even go for the prices. I go for the crowd, the bartenders and the atmosphere.
As I mentioned earlier, I am advocate of social media. I spend my team reading it, writing about it and experimenting with it. I support organizations using social media for the right purposes and in the right manner. I encourage them to think outside the box and try new things (hey, I’d be more than happy to help in the process). But I think we can see here, and in many other cases, that social media isn’t the magic bullet that is going to reach everyone and fix your problems. It is a part of the marketing mix that, if used right, can help your business grow and help create and solidify your brand. But a gold old-fashioned hand shake will do you a lot of good as well.
Now excuse me, I need to go pick up a Nancy from So Long Saloon.
How have you seen small businesses succeed without social media? How have you seen small business take advantage of it? And hey, just for the heck of it, leave a comment with a link to your favorite bar. Even if you’re from some other part of the country, you never know when others might be in town!