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You Facebook Myspace & I'll Pinterest Your Twitter!

By Justin Haver GoVacuum.com

Does social media sound like a joke or foreign language to you? Think only kids and twenty somethings are using social media? Think again!

The best form of advertising hasn't changed over the past few hundred years: word of mouth. I'm sure you've heard it before - word of mouth sells. This is advertising 101… and if you don't believe the experts, just ask yourself about the last few movies you spent $40 to go watch at the theater. Why did you see these films? Did a friend recommend them? What about that restaurant you ate at last week? Why there?

Our friends and family are our support systems. We value their opinion and advice. This is why word of mouth advertising works so well. I mean really, are you going to lie to your friends about having a bad dinner on date night? Are you going to tell them the place that served you uncooked chicken was the bees knees?

I'm sure you know by now that an unhappy customer tells (on average) 10 people about their experience, while a happy customer might tell one or two. If only there was a way to communicate with your customers while they have these conversations about your company so you could hear what they have to say; so have a chance to respond to their claims of poor service, or so you could hear what they love about your service. Now you can.

This is the power of what has become known as "social media" on the Internet. Social media is essentially enabling you to hear what your customers are saying about you, allowing you to interact directly with them and their friends, all while being able to offer them coupons and other incentives to walk back in your store. Oh… one more thing, it's free!

Plus, as a local merchant you have an advantage over us dot-commers. You can see and interact with your customers in person, face to face, we can't. To this day I still refuse to believe that we have an advantage over local merchants as an online vacuum retailer. Human interaction can't be duplicated online -- period. Don't believe me? Go try online dating and tell me it's the same as meeting someone in person!

The point I'm trying to make is you have all needed tools at your disposal for free. You can interact with local customers in your neighborhood in the form of social media and also take advantage of having face time with your customers that the Internet can't duplicate, so why not capitalize on it and start embracing the Internet instead of fighting and complaining about it?

If you're able to adapt and take on this mentality, it is my belief, not only will your business survive in the future (even as a small retail vacuum shop), it will thrive. There are many forms of social media websites that can connect you with consumers.

1. Facebook.com is the most popular social media website, and is also the one I recommend starting off with for retail vacuum stores.

2. Myspace.com: don't waste your time... it's no longer 2003.

3. Pinterest.com is essentially an online collage of images you can share with the world. It is also a great tool for corporate businesses who can afford to pay someone to maintain their account full time; local retail stores won't see many results for the amount of time spent on this website.

4. Twitter.com is a great social media website as well, but it's essentially like a stock ticker that's always changing. Unless you're willing to devote countless hours creating posts (Tweets) you're going to get lost among all the other posts. While a user (follower) can pull up your tweets, the tweets only last for 7-10 days before disappearing. Couple that with the fact that Tweets are limited to 140 characters and the site hosts over 340 million Tweets daily - getting lost among the herd is easy. Furthermore, Twitter often shuts down due to overload and is about as reliable as an Edsol or Yugo.

OK, so head over to Facebook.com and create a personal account if you don't already have one and read the next issue of Floor Care & Central Vac Professional, as next month as I'll be writing: How to set up a Facebook account for your business. Each month I'll be writing monthly articles on how your retail store can utilize the Internet with minimal time and dollar investment to gain retail traffic customers.

Justin Haver is vice president of sales and marketing at GoVacuum.com. He will be presenting at seminar at the next VDTA Trade Show & Convention. Watch for details and plan to attend!

Reprinted from Floor Care & Central Vac Professional, November 2012