A social chat

A social chat
Every bridal shop owner knows that word of mouth is the best advertising money canbuy, but not many realise that your satisfied customers can now broadcast the message to all your potential customers by social networking, says Chris Partridge SOCIAL NETWORKING SOUNDS SCARILY technological but it isn—think of it as the ability to chat to all your brides, their mothers, bridesmaids and friends at once. And the exchanges can be read by newly-engaged girls round the area who might be tempted to buy from a shop owner as knowledgeable, helpful, friendly and sharply-priced as you are. The first thing to do is add an online journal called a blog to your website. A blog is where you announce new gowns, publicise sales and other events. Nothing livens up a static webpage better than a recently-updated blog. It demonstrates that your shop is thriving, that you are dynamic and open for business. If you can manage a few lively, interesting and funny blog posts, that will show them what kind of boutique you are. Blogging is mostly a one-way medium for you to send messages to all, but it is a very good idea to encourage comments on your posts, though you should look at each comment before publication to ensure nobody is using it for spam or bullying (known as ’). The next step is to get on to Facebook. The setup process is simple and free. Add a few photographs to add a personal touch. Facebook is more conversational. Want to say how excited your are about a new gown that has just arrived, or simply that the weather is looking good for one of your brides’wedding today? Facebook is the place to say it. There are a lot of other companies, who continue development for android their mobile social communication software. Finally, Twitter. Twitter messages are famously short and immediate, the persiflage of social networking. You can Tweet using you mobile phone as quickly as you can text, so it is possible to update your clients from on the road —say you have discovered a great new venue you can send a tweet with a picture instantly. The main fear people have of social networking is how to deal with negative comments. what do you do if a client is critical of your service? Openness is best. If you have fallen short of your usual standards, apologise immediately (preferably within minutes), offer appropriate recompense and take the comment offline for detailed discussion. Even if you feel the criticism is unfair, explain the situation courteously. And remember that even negative comments have an upside —brides who see you dealing with the situation swiftly and fairly will be reassured that you sincerely believe in customer service. You will even find that, if you have been fostering your community of brides, many will leap to your defence. Andrew Pearce at bridal shop Creatiques in Southsea is a big fan of social networking. who doesnuse social networking is mad —it is free advertising,”he says. get 30 to 50 enquiries a week through Facebook, and our business has become a lot bigger because of social networking —people are prepared to travel to our shop because they know us through Facebook or Twitter.” One of the big advantages of social networking over traditional promotion is that you can see exactly what impact each post has. the windows are changed every month we take pictures and tease the girls a little saying we have exiting new dresses coming in and we do get feedback from that, girls asking when they will be in and what designer they are,”Pearce says. we posted the picture of the gown thatin the window now, we had 26 likes, eight comments and five bookings from that Facebook post.” The comments left by brides are an essential endorsement. are real people, not just us writing about us, they are brides talking about their experiences coming into the shop,”Pearce says. send us pictures of their weddings and we post them on the website, Facebook and Twitter. It is a great way of showing potential customers what we actually do.” Establishing a personal connection with your social networking contacts is best done personally, but some proprietors find the job too time consuming and delegate. know companies that have people designated to do social networking but we do it whenever we get a break, posting a tweet that might say we have just had a lovely bride in and we are very exited about the dress she has chosen or something —it is all about creating that social buzz by adding that post,”Pearce advises. update all the time so people donget bored. For major posts we tend to hit either first thing in the morning or after half past seven at night because those are the times most people are online.”

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