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Will Facebook Help You Sell More Pools?

Here’s how to “get up to speed” with the new “Social Media”

By Brett Lloyd Abbott, MYM Austin Inc.

If you’re more than 25 years old (like me), then there’s a pretty good chance that “Twitter” and “Facebook” and “MySpace” are words that you have heard in your periphery, but primarily associate them to “students and young people.” Maybe you even feel a slight pang of guilt as you increasingly hear that you should “embrace this new social media.” So you figure you’ll check it out at some point in the future. But not yet.

Well, guess what – We “old people” are just like the “old people” of 5, 10, 15 and 25 years ago.

Twenty years ago, I was not quite 30 years old, and somewhat on the “cutting edge” of corporate technology. The facsimile machine was becoming commonplace, making the old “Telex” machine obsolete. We got pretty good at using this new thing called “e-mail,” and after an official training session, we marveled at the possibilities of this revolutionary new communication tool called “voice mail.”

Meanwhile, a few of our cutting edge coworkers were dabbling with that “next great world-changing technology” – the Internet. Debates raged over coffee and lunches whether this “World Wide Web” was actually going to provide value, or just crush the productivity of all the employees. We seriously considered banning all access to the Internet at work.

Could we not say the exact same thing about Twitter and Facebook today?

Today, I’m using Google and the Internet exactly the way those forward thinking coworkers said it would be it 20 years ago. In fact, I can’t think of a single wild and crazy Internet prediction that hasn’t already come true and been surpassed. Two years ago, from your laptop, you could look down from the sky and see whether or not a prospect had a swimming pool in their backyard.  Now, you can look at the front of their house, see what kind of car they drive, and whether or not they take good care of their lawn.  From your cell phone.  Feel free to check out all their neighbors’ houses while you’re there, by the way.

I don’t think any of my coworkers predicted that!

So what about Twitter and Facebook? Are these “the next great things”? Well, it’s hard to say where they will end up 20 years from now, but I can tell you this — they aren’t going away anytime soon.  And yes, they can actually help you sell more pools, hot tubs and service.

First, let’s clarify things a little bit.  “MySpace” and “Facebook” are essentially free individual webpages where you can share information about yourself (or your business) with friends, family, clients or prospects. You can share feelings, photos, inventory, whatever. “Twitter” is a bit more focused in the sharing of information, in that its primary focus is to tell us “what you’re doing right now.”  (The presumption is that other people actually care about what you and millions of other people are doing right now.)

MySpace was the leader in social networking, but that came at a cost. We discovered on the news that children were using MySpace to share secrets and naughtiness. The notoriety grew such that at this point, it’s mostly considered a communication tool for teenagers. You can use it for your business, but there are some better options.

“Facebook” is similar in concept to MySpace, but it has a much more “grown up” feel and approach. It doesn’t have the youthful baggage of MySpace, so it’s a significantly more popular for business. Coincidentally, it also offers much of the same “here’s what I’m doing right now” notification that Twitter has, so it’s not yet clear to me whether they’re both going to survive the long haul.

Now the big question – Should you get involved with Facebook or any of these other social media?

Well, it’s a lot like the Internet was 10 to 15 years ago.  Back then, the Internet was probably a very small contributor to your overall business, but it did start to contribute new business, nonetheless. Will a new Facebook account help you sell more pools?  I don’t know about this year, but there’s a better chance it will next year, and even more so four years from now. (But that’s only if you actually have an account, and use it.)

So here’s my advice to you – Sign up now on at least one social medium, and get a feel for what it’s all about. Just like all those other “new technologies,” you’ll need to spend a little time with it, to get comfortable with it, and to figure out how you might use it in your business.

Here are three “safe” social media outlets that I can comfortably recommend to you:

www.PoolGeniusNetwork.com – Probably the leading social media outlet for our industry, it’s loaded with lots of great information, and a lot of people you already know (including me). This group appears to be accomplishing what a lot of other groups are still trying to do.

www.MyAPSP.org — You don’t have to be a member of APSP to join this site. And it’s laid out very similar to the Pool Genius Network site, so if you join both, the whole concept of “social media” will start making a lot more sense to you in a hurry. Not quite as active or “high-visibility” as the Pool Genius Network, this site is about as “safe” as you can get.

www.Facebook.com — Until you (and your clients) are ready for Twitter, Facebook is probably the best place to promote your business.  However, I suggest you launch this on a personal level first, and become somewhat proficient before you attempt to launch a site for your business.

Hanley Wood has a new social media site called “Aquatics International” (www.aiconnect.ning.com/) but I don’t yet have any experience with it, so I can’t comment on it.  (But I have a lot of respect for the folks at Hanley Wood, so it can’t be too bad!)

Here’s the bottom line — you don’t have to start advertising today on a social media outlet.  But you should sign up to a least one of them, and find out what all the buzz is about.

It’s going to be part of our collective future, whether we like it or not.

Till next time,
Brett


2009 Brett Lloyd Abbott / MYM Austin Inc.  May not be used without permission.

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