A Startup Success Story (and Facebook played an active role!)

Ok, it’s late and I am up too (again) late but before I sign off for the night: I “gotta” share this story that ran in the San Francisco Business Times for a couple of reasons that have me beaming and I hope you can feel my enthusiasm leap off your screen:

September 25, 2009 — The San Francisco Business Times featured How Fast Time Flies as its Startup Spotlight (read the story!) Web site helps weave memories into digital scrapbooks .

A pleasantly surprised How Fast Times Flies founder recently shared it with her Facebook circle (of which I am gratefully part of.)

#1 Cathy Biddy Bennett was once upon a time a high school classmate of mine and well I don’t think any of us of the Santa Catalina class of 1983 figured back then (as we headed off to college) that for some, our fortunes would be made via the internet. Were we even conscious of it as we chose Liberal Arts degrees and pursued careers in medicine, finance, law, teaching and other fine fields?

#2 Real Relationships and Strategic Alliances played a significant role in catalyzing this success story. And trust and collaboration paid off big time.

#3 Utilizing Facebook successfully helped build a brand and generate interest that became sales and more sales:

“Ecom also built Bennett a Facebook presence in January 2009, and the business took off.

Prior to Facebook, How Fast Time Flies had about 11,000 members. Membership more than doubled within six months. Bennett now advertises on Facebook, has a Facebook application and a dedicated fan page.

“That medium is so, so powerful,” Bennett said. “I didn’t get into it at first because I didn’t think my customers were there; I didn’t think moms were there. And, yeah, they are.”

Cathy very gently, genuinely and tactfully used first her personal page and later her business page to showcase some of the cool things that customers had created. I watched as time passed that she got a little bolder, but remained understated as well, in her posts to share wins and wows. And her way “of being” herself, clearly attracted even more interest and customers.

No hype, just honest and genuine enthusiasm from Cathy the person (and the proud business owner), sharing customer creations month after month and contest winners as voted upon by the community. I recall one time months back, she unknowingly double posted only then to apologize for the duplicate posting. I suspect no one minded the double take. For her authenticity always shines through for me.

Using social networks like Facebook or perhaps one that is more targeted, such as Greenwala, a newer network established to champion all things Green will increase awareness of you as individual or cause or company over time. Facebook is for everyone AND within the entire population are the tribes we identify with also.

More specialized social networks may be easier to locate by online searches and they may have fewer members BUT at least you know they are more than likely receptive to you and your values and offering. The question may be how many active profiles in different communities can you consistently cultivate and participate and contribute to? A dormant profile within a community could send a mixed message, so being discerning about where you spend your energy seems a valuable dialogue to have.

Now, I don’t think it’s necessary to “over think” a Social Media Strategy. In fact, over thinking it could backfire sometimes. Authenticity trumps strategy time and again and good finds are naturally shared through friends and family and groups and now, social networks. So imagine that you have a good thing that simply needs to be more easily found. God bless the entrepreneurial cheerleaders” who created first newsletters, then websites, and now populate their blogs with the great exciting things they have found as they journey the web or the physical world.

Social networks allow for you to reach out, as yourself, be yourself, and be more easily discovered (if you are ready to be). Planning your involvement professionally and tactically is important, like the foundation of a home is. And genuineness rings true and clear where posts and pitches are concerned. And responsiveness when one can be, builds rapport naturally.

One of my favorite phrases is “Social Media is Straight Up Honesty.” –Francisco Rosales, of SocialMouths.com

And for as long as I have seen Cathy posting on Facebook as the mom and friend and business woman she is, I have felt her gentle spirit in every post and comment and share. Inspiring in me a desire to use her company’s fun service (aka patronize her) and let my circles know about this cool way to digitally beautify and share photos with others.

Good Product/Service I need/want + Generous/Gracious Leadership + Values that Align with Mine = Gets My Attention and Business!

I celebrate this former classmate’s enterpreneurial success and again gently encourage all you who are waiting to join in Social Networking, as the meaningful channel it is to grow personally and professionally and organically over six months, one Facebook post at a time, with some strategic and well-timed ads to attract new followers (per the article).

CONGRATULATIONS Cathy.

How Fast Time Flies for those who enjoy digital scrapbooking what a concept!

How are you using Social Media?

I’m curious. I truly am. Are you on board yet or are you still waiting till you feel comfortable?

With all the advice being given by self-proclaimed SEO and Social Media experts, are you clear on the basics of how to get started with Social Media and what to do to “organically” and in a manageable and sustainable manner attract the attention you want and need and desire?

I am a “gently vocal” advocate for people embracing Social Media and being consistent in their participation on chosen Social Networks. And there are more than enough options to be affiliated with: from the Facebook’s to more specialty networks created through user-friendly apps like Ning. Perhaps there are seemingly already, too many? And the abundance of choices makes it daunting to dive in?

Does Facebook scare you? But you know you best get on board at some point? Perhaps you promise yourself, you will once your website is just how you want it? Or your Blog is populated with hearty content?

May I suggest taking baby steps. Make them as small as you need to. Don’t post personal material if you prefer, but once your personal page exists, well set up that Fan Page for your business and do some authentic posting, catalyze some discussions, and pay forward the good work and posts of others because it is the FUN and right thing to do.

It was quoted in a teleclass offered by Julia Stege of Graphic Girlz: Creative Marketing Solutions, that 87% of marketers are using Social Media but only 60% began in the last few months. And the average amount of time spent on Facebook by a user was 20 minutes a day. There is still time to be an early adopter! Ask a friend to help you get established and oriented at the very least. And yes, these are all simply suggestions, but I wholeheartedly advocate what has been good for me personally and of late my marketing business.

Imagine that you have a collection of buckets before you. These buckets represent your core revenue channels and you’ve determined what percentage of your annual income you want to come from each “bucket.” So it follows that each bucket deserves the time it requires to be producing the results and the revenue you strive for.

For example, if you are keen to have your products found and purchased, be it books, CDs, downloads etc, marketing effort and energy must be directed intentionally toward promoting “your products.” And therefore time must also be appropriately devoted to services offered, events, classes and any other designated “bucket.” And with consistent, intentional attention your “buckets” will be brimming with desired results. And, thank you Nancy Juetten of Main Street Media Savvy for sharing your metaphor for your success.

So let’s apply this notion to your marketing plan: again what are the “buckets” you are willing to pay attention to with consistency and heart?

Okay, so you don’t quite have the obsessive passion for blogging like some and Social Media intimidates you a little, but ask yourself if you can’t be found easily, or found at all…?

A quick and important aside on my belief about business and abundance: there are always more than enough clients for all those offering services and products. You are someone’s desired service provider, teacher, school, author, speaker, artist, and so on. Recession is a state of mind we agree to.

For years my mantra: “Speak well of yourself, for your deep mind is always listening” has been posted in my workspace as a constant reminder, I choose my state of being.

I am but one of many evangelists encouraging every person in business I know to be present in Social Media outlets and be consistent in your way. The bright and squeaky wheels get the grease don’t they? Not all of us will post daily. But can you at least commit to bi-weekly or weekly?

CASE IN POINT: A client I have been supporting for three years with enrollment and registration and marketing support agreed recently to create a Facebook profile as well as a business page. And she admitted it was not something she was comfortable with but she trusted my gentle insistence. Thank you!

Three weeks later and a dozen posts or so, she declared in a weekly call we have, “I like this Facebook thing.” She had reconnected with dozens of friends, some colleagues and attracted some new followers.

She was having FUN with it as much as we were using it to share business news. We aren’t concerned with attracting a multitude of followers overnight, but we are interested in building a community in conversation that shows up and takes note of upcoming trainings and support calls. And feels like sharing worthwhile offerings with people they really know.

I find Social Media fun to engage in most often daily. I love spreading good news and inspiration and practicing random acts of kindness for my growing Facebook clan. What I used to do via email and personalized invitations to friend’s and client’s events, I now can do more broadly but just as personally.

If you are shy about getting started because technology unnerves you, I just know there is someone more than willing to jump start you and give you an easy tutorial. And when you see that it can be fun to instantly share great news with your whole group in a single post, I bet you become a Fan too!

May we all be blessed with courage and gumption and enthusiasm when we most need it, so that we can be found and engaged by those who need us.