Face time

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If you are a small business owner or retailer, you’ve likely had your email in basket plugged up with seminar offers to get you going on the internet.

You may have decided to take the plunge, convinced by the pundits with social media newest and latest trend info, that this is the Way of the Future.

Get on board or get left behind. If you’re not tweeting, blogging, uploading photos of your product, store, business, tweeting specials, running contests on line, do you actually….even ….exist?

The pressure to sign up is intense.

So you sit in a seminar, learn how to sign on, get your password, tweet, get people to like your Facebook page, set up an email newsletter, and get yourself a YouTube account.

Social media based marketing gurus  will tell you that this is the way to get more customers, attention, profile. You’ll need to blog, tweet, put out email newsletters, give advice by audiofile and stick it onto your spanking new drop-dead fabulous interactive website.

Right?

Well, no, actually. Or, let’s say…partly. In the bottomless maw that is new social media platforms and services, there’s a marked absence of the wisdom behind some basic realities like…geography, for one. And local culture, for another. And time, for yet another. And relevance, come to think of it.

Let’s face it, if you aren’t on Facebook or LinkedIn, the thinking goes, you aren’t with it. Except for the exceptions, and there are many.

Sherry Boyce-Found, manager of the Kawartha Lakes Chamber of Commerce, www.kawarthachamber.ca  puts it like this:

“Is your city surrounded by farms, like mine is? Is the city still essentially run by a hub of volunteers, many of whom have been around a while and are doing a great job of it without social media?” Her membership is a mix of rural (farmers) retail (shops) services (visiting nurses) and some industry.

“The storekeepers and farmers mostly don’t have the time, staff and margins to tweet,” she notes.  From what I can see, they still prefer their downtime spent in Rotary meetings and at Tim Hortons morning flockfests, over a tiny rectangular thing that takes them away from genuine face-time with their peers.

It’s a time thing, and a generational thing. Let’s face it, slightly arthritic fingers (I have a thumb that falls into this category and thumbs are critical for texting) and pressing business needs from behind the cash register counter do not a social media plan make.

The local papers survive because people still advertise using…newspapers. And radio. And television. And in this area, rural Ontario with a small city in the middle of it,  people still read the ads.

In fact we have an interesting blend. Or maybe it’s two solitudes living beside one another in relative harmony and pretty much total ignorance of how the other side gets it info. Younger folk are busy with their devices, and can be seen walking all over town staring into tiny white little screens, thumbs moving furiously, as though their lives depended on it. Not for them a Rotary meeting! In fact I keep waiting, avowedly with a bit of perverse expectation to see if any of them walk into a telephone pole, so blinded are they by their iphones and what they encounter there.

But I digress, which is not unusual. I doubt the texters and tweeters are looking for the latest specials at the local Mom and Pop hardware store, or butcher shop.

They’ll have to pick up a newspaper to find out about that.  Mom and Pop have hung up the apron, done the day’s tally. turned off the lights, locked the door and are off home to dinner, followed by Rotary, choir practice, curling, or coffee at Timmie’s.

Face time.

About Jane Carthew Davidson

As a former senior public relations specialist with a large publicly traded multi-national chemical company, Jane Carthew Davidson produced the company’s award winning annual report for several years. Later, she was media relations specialist for Ontario’s Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC), where she wrote speeches for the executive team, trained spokespersons across the province, and developed talking points and strategies designed to clarify the role played by property assessment within the municipal taxation system. Jane is a former business reporter for the Globe and Mail Report on Business, and the Toronto Star’s Business Today. Her articles have appeared in the Toronto Star, the Medical Post, the Anglican Journal, the Financial Post and most recently, the Globe and Mail’s special supplements on subjects as wide ranging as organic farming and new investment regulations. On several occasions, Jane’s media savvy and quick research skills enabled her to win broad media attention and investment queries from Canada, the Unites States and Europe, for a unique medical device start-up venture. Following Peterborough’s Flood of the Century in 2004, Jane handled media relations for the City of Peterborough, developing and implementing the communications plan for the city’s media outreach to afflicted citizens, concerned insurance companies, city staff and other government stakeholders.
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