LONG BEACH, Calif. — Social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter have grown popular because their users crave connection, says John Wayne Zimmerman, “chief rocket scientist” (CEO, actually) for eRocketfuel Social Media. Coin laundries who work to connect with customers and prospects online have the potential to generate greater business.
Zimmerman’s Chicago-based company provides training and consultation on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube for associations and small businesses.
A dry cleaner in the audience of his recent Fabricare 2012 seminar asked if Groupon was considered social media, and Zimmerman answered yes. “Social (media) is defined not just as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. It’s really defined as Internet marketing.” Internet marketing has shifted to social media because “we’re all talking to each other” through these different vehicles, according to Zimmerman.
Three out of four Americans are using social technology today, according to Forrester Research. A Cone Business in Social Media study shows that 95% of social media users believe a company should have a presence in social media.
“There’s a comfort level today where people want to be able to talk to you today wherever they’re at. Not where you’re at, but where they’re at.”
The more people who come into your laundry, the more capacity you have to build relationships and generate business. The same is true of website traffic, Zimmerman says. A website owner controls 25% of the site’s traffic, while the remaining 75% is “the proof that other people say you are a viable source,” he adds.
Use page titles that incorporate keywords commonly used in relation to self-service laundries. Why? Because search engines base their results on keywords discovered. A nicely designed home page may be attractive to a viewer, but it does nothing to enhance the chances of your store’s site appearing in web search results, Zimmerman says. “A search engine wants to know what the content on your website is about. It needs words.”
As for the 75%, it’s about creating links using articles, directory listings and social media that will draw users of other sites to yours. This takes time and commitment, Zimmerman says, and it’s up to you to decide if the effort is worth it.
Facebook users are most familiar with a page’s timeline, which follows posts and other actions in chronological order, but there are ways—with the assistance of a designer—to develop custom pages, according to Zimmerman.
“Let them know the different kinds of things you do,” he says. “This is a way to bring your website to Facebook. You’re not replicating everything, you’re replicating the things that matter. Maybe the things that make the most money.”
It’s important that you dedicate yourself to posting regularly on your social media sites, because users are accustomed to seeing frequent updates, Zimmerman says. Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays are generally the days when most people are online. “If you always consistently put out those messages on those dates, people will start to see them more.”
If you utilize Facebook well, it’s realistic to convert 10% of fans into loyal customers, and that generates revenue, Zimmerman says.
Use your Facebook timeline to strengthen your brand, Zimmerman advises. The timeline organizes status updates by date and year, plus offers the option to be more visual by adding larger and more photos and graphics.
Draw the viewer’s eye by posting a vibrant timeline photo. Upload an image from a stock photo company such as iStockphoto, or just grab your digital camera and click away. “Most people have a camera today. In the right lighting, you can make any picture look incredible.”
When people visit your coin laundry’s Facebook page, “they’re going to associate (it with) quality, or not,” Zimmerman says.
Above all, be personal with your posts. Canned, corporate social-media posts don’t build relationships, he warns.
“Video is really going to be the next big thing on the Internet,” Zimmerman predicts. While only the “YouTube stars” have realized any profits from having a YouTube presence, video elicits emotion, and people buy based upon emotion.
Come up with a video and post it to your site, he challenges. “It should be about who you are and the value that you offer, getting back to what it is that you offer people.”
Did you know you can search Twitter to find posts relevant to coin laundries? Go to search.twitter.com and type in a term such as “Laundromat” or “drop-off service” and any tweets containing that term will pop up.
“You can start talking to (the person) without being connected to them at all,” Zimmerman says, which is “the beautiful thing” about Twitter.
“You really don’t have to post if you don’t want to. You can just get on there to listen to people, do searches, find customers, start talking to them, fish, bring them in. It takes a little bit of time, but the results can be pretty incredible.”
However you choose to tailor your social media strategy, treat your customers like they’re the most important people in the world, Zimmerman says.