Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Social Engagement for Small Business

Recently, I was explaining to a friend what Etsy was. Mostly, this was because I wanted to show her the blog Regretsy, which makes no sense if you don't know what Etsy is. Quick summary: Etsy is a site for small time crafters to sell their wares, like a giant online art market, and Regretsy is a great blog that highlights some of the weirdest, wackiest, and funniest stuff on the site. Because it can't all be beautiful.

So, once my friend saw Regretsy, she wanted to know, does anyone sell anything good on the site? And I had to say, "Why yes!" It's entirely true. For every misspelled greeting card or taxidermied squirrel with a fish head, there is a gorgeous photographic print series or hand knitted lacy scarf.

But my favorite Etsy retailer is LotusPad. I first became acquainted with her on Twitter, following her tweets about daily yoga practice and battling Boston weather on her commute by bicycle. And then I noticed she would tweet links to items in her Etsy shop.

This is a great way to connect with potential shoppers on Twitter that a lot of big companies miss. Some companies simply tweet over and over again about their product, but LotusPad is selling handmade jewelry and eco-friendly yoga mats. These items are very personal, and the people who buy them, the demographic wants more than just a "thing" to buy, they look for relationships. So it's nice to read LotusPad's tweets, and talk to her about what she does, reads, or thinks, and then see the product of her handiwork.

The night I showed my friend some of her jewelry, I realized that I really wanted to buy another necklace from the shop. When I got home, I went to look for the item, but for whatever reason, it wasn't popping up. So I used Twitter to write to LotusPad to ask if she could find it in her inventory. My description was a little lacking, but LotusPad kept searching until we found it. That's an amazing level of customer service, something every small business should aspire to. It's especially amazing, considering she was answering my tweets after 9:00 pm! This is a time that I would expect her to be home from work, and taking a break from the "office."

Most of the time, buying things online is so impersonal. Amazon has an algorithm to tell me that I should try Patricia Cornwall books because I like Kathy Reichs books, but it's just a computer. It's nice to meet someone I can have a conversation with, who makes a great product to boot.

Image from LotusPad's Etsy shop--I love this necklace and own a similar version of it. 

Share and Enjoy |