How even a dog walker can benefit from social media

The term “social media” continues to be subject to interpretation by many. Ask a room of 10 people what social media means, and you’re likely to get 10 different answers. So it’s no wonder that many businesses and individual entrepreneurs are unsure how social media can play a role in their marketing communications strategies.

I asked on Twitter today, “What’s one business you think would NOT benefit from social media initiatives?” Here are some of the answers I received:

While some of these were given in jest, let’s take a look at a few examples of businesses that might not think social media is appropriate for them – and how we think it in fact could help raise awareness for their brand and company.

  • Fisherman – as @YuliZ says above, perhaps fishing is not a business that one would think is appropriate for social media promotion. But let’s step back for a minute and remember one of the most wonderful things about social media – we are all publishers now. What does this have to do with fishing? Ever watch Deadliest Catch? If you have, you already know that fishing can be a much more interesting career (or hobby) than you ever imagined. So maybe your type of fishing isn’t life or death – say you’re a commercial fisherman. Scale it down, take your camera out, video the crew before your next trip. Ask them questions about the different types of lines/bait/tactics used. Ask them their top three tips for a successful trip. Ask them how long they’ve been in the business. Turn it into an ongoing series that involves a) encouraging people to ask questions on Twitter b) have your crew answer on video c) post it on YouTube, Facebook, etc. I think you’ll be surprised by how many people would soon want to learn more about “Fred’s Fishing Factory” – whereas before social media, they may never have thought to even listen.
  • Fashion Stylist - okay so your job is usually conducted in-person and you can’t think of how to drum up business through social media. Sure, you can talk about fashion and clothes and related items on Twitter, but how does that help you when your business is in Phoenix and you’re talking to people in Prague? Think credibility, awareness and maybe even expansion. Create a Twitter presence and a blog. Connect them together – use sites such as Polyvore to pull looks together and showcase your talents by posting looks on the blog and promoting them on Twitter. Tweet about “looks of the day” or style tips. Encourage followers to ask for “online consultations” based on a certain event they’ll be attending – you can pull looks together, post them on your blog as examples and eventually even begin charging a nominal fee for it (perhaps through Etsy). You may decide to incorporate video by taking the camera to your gigs and showcasing how you pull a look together. You’ll soon find that not only are you honing your skills but you’re building your offline brand online, too.
  • Dog walker - this one’s easy! Get a camera phone, Twitpic photos of your walks and write a “doggie blog” about your daily adventures. Add humor and begin building a community by sharing tips, tricks, facts and figures about dog care. Localize it by sharing insights on where to find quality day care or vet services in other cities. Post funny videos on your Facebook, blog or YouTube that come from your every day job – you know people love funny animal videos! Again, the point here is to engage – and to build credibility. If I can see videos and blog posts about how much fun you have with your charges, I am way more likely to hire you than the person who placed a text ad in the back of the phonebook. You could even begin to include short snippets of happy customers providing testimonies about how wonderfu you are with their dogs.

Of course, these are not in any way full strategies but rather just a few quick examples of how different types of busineses can engage an audience and expand online brand awareness and credibility through social media. If you think that your customers aren’t on these social community sites – ask yourself if you think they Google. When I’m looking for something, it’s the first place I go. Use intelligent tags and post your content to as many social community sites as you can and you’ll begin to see that potential customers will find you even if they’ve never heard of Twitter.

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