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Archive for Thursday, April 15, 2010

Facebook fan base: Lawrence retailers build name with social media tool

Joel Pfannenstiel, owner of Astrokitty Comics, 15 E. Seventh St., uses a popular Facebook page to keep comic book enthusiasts connected to his store. Social media has become an important component of many successful businesses.

Joel Pfannenstiel, owner of Astrokitty Comics, 15 E. Seventh St., uses a popular Facebook page to keep comic book enthusiasts connected to his store. Social media has become an important component of many successful businesses.

April 15, 2010

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Kansas University freshman Olivia Banks, 18, Wichita, rides a KU on Wheels bus, which features a sign advising passengers to become a fan of the university on Facebook.

Kansas University freshman Olivia Banks, 18, Wichita, rides a KU on Wheels bus, which features a sign advising passengers to become a fan of the university on Facebook.

Facebook Following

Number of fans or friends for each of the Lawrence retailers featured (as of presstime):

  • Astrokitty Comics, 15 E. Seventh St.: 1,943
  • Love Garden Sounds, 822 Mass: 2,849
  • Signs of Life, 722 Mass.: 1,206
  • Sunflower Outdoor and Bike Shop, 802 Mass.: 658
  • Weaver’s department store, 901 Mass.: 299.

Source: Facebook.com

Many Lawrence businesses have fan pages on Facebook, and many say those pages help bring in customers. Here’s a snapshot of the site’s different uses.

Katie Ashmore, record buyer at Love Garden Sounds, 822 Mass., prepares to spin an LP in the downtown music shop. Love Garden Sound’s Facebook page has one feature that tracks the music currently playing in the store, followed by comments about the music from employees and customers.

Katie Ashmore, record buyer at Love Garden Sounds, 822 Mass., prepares to spin an LP in the downtown music shop. Love Garden Sound’s Facebook page has one feature that tracks the music currently playing in the store, followed by comments about the music from employees and customers.

Love Garden Sounds, 822 Mass.

Kelly Corcoran didn’t originally want a Facebook page.

Corcoran, Love Garden Sounds owner, said his sister talked him into signing up for Facebook. Then one day he listened to an album and wrote about it on the page, and he’s been doing that ever since. He says the page brings in people asking about the music.

“People get really excited when it’s something that they know,” he said.

Oftentimes people will read about an album, then come in to buy it specifically because he wrote about it. He says the page reminds people that the store exists and brings them in more often than they would have otherwise.

“It’s a free way to stay connected for people who want to stay more closely connected to the store,” he said. “It targets people who already want to be closer.”

Corcoran says that the site also serves as something fun to do during downtime at the store, but it’s not right for every business.

“It’s all about the audience at your business,” he said. “It makes most sense with businesses that have a social construction.”

Astrokitty Comics and More, 15 E. Seventh St.

Astrokitty uses Facebook to expand the store’s exposure, said Joel Pfannenstiel, owner.

“I know a lot of my customers are on there,” he said. “They will use the site to special order or add to their subscription card.”

Pfannenstiel posts the store’s hours and special events on his page, and often announces the arrival of new comics to the store. For a while he was posting reviews of comics, but he said there was a fine line for overposting. Ultimately, though, the site has one of the highest fan counts of retail businesses in Lawrence.

“It’s really a grassroots thing,” he said. “One person will recommend us to a friend.”

Pfannenstiel said the Facebook page keeps him connected to customers and Lawrence expatriates, and he tries to reply to all comments or questions directed at the store.

Signs of Life Bookstore, 722 Mass.

Clay Belcher uses Facebook to reach a younger demographic, one he says may not necessarily read a newspaper and see the store’s ads. Belcher, owner of Signs of Life Bookstore, posts events, coupons and blog entries on the site. He’s noticed that it attracts a different audience from what he normally sees, especially the online coupons, which he says do very well.

“I think the main thing is creating buzz and awareness,” Belcher said. “It definitely brings people who wouldn’t necessarily have come in that day.”

One dilemma he faces, though, is how much time to put into the site. It’s hard to find the balance of posting too much and not often enough, he says. But it’s necessary to have a presence in social media.

“You can’t not do it,” he said. “It’s what you have to do if you’re in business today.”

Stanley lives at Sunflower Outdoor and Bike Shop, 802 Massachusetts St. He has his own Facebook page and numerous items in the store feature his face, including T-shirts, water bottles and buttons.

Stanley lives at Sunflower Outdoor and Bike Shop, 802 Massachusetts St. He has his own Facebook page and numerous items in the store feature his face, including T-shirts, water bottles and buttons.

Sunflower Outdoor and Bike Shop, 802 Mass.

Sunflower Outdoor and Bike Shop has two different types of pages: a fan page for the business and a profile page for their cat Stanley. Kalen Richardson, sales associate, said multiple people run the store’s page, which posts special events and photos. She said the page should probably be more active, though, and serve to communicate with the store’s regular customers.

Richardson said Stanley’s page actually brings in customers who want to visit him.

Weaver’s, 901 Mass.

Joe Flannery said Weaver’s joined Facebook after seeing other businesses do the same.

“We thought it was important to have Facebook as another mechanism to connect,” he said.

Flannery, president of Weaver’s, said the posts are outsourced to someone outside the store. They’ve experimented with posting coupons and think the page makes people more aware of the store.

The store has its goals for the page for next year. Flannery said that he wants more people to sign up to be fans of the page, but also that a main goal is to update the site more often.

Comments

Paul Hahn 4 years, 8 months ago

Yes, I'm sure this is a "violation of use"...

Janet Lowther 4 years, 8 months ago

How the heck do you write even a trivial music review in the short-short-short format Facebook requires?

I tried to post a twelve line poem and it was too long for Facebook to be happy. . . They do allow longer posts than twitter, but. . .

Bassetlover 4 years, 8 months ago

Gotta hand it to The Sandbar - I rarely go into bars, but their Facebook postings really make me want to go in theirs! They do a phenomenal job!

debbi 4 years, 8 months ago

Thank you, that's a great compliment!

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