I had the pleasure this week of chatting to business owner Armelle of Armelle’s Kitchen about social media and what it has done for her business. Armelle owns a kitchen in Kilcullen, where she crafts the most scrummy cakes, french macarons and tartlets.
It’s always a great opportunity when prepping a case study to test my online networking and persuasive skills, although I have to say that chatting to Arnelle was a wonderful experience, and gave me an insight into the real value of social media.
Armelle and I got chatting on Twitter when she answered one of my questions:
As a business, what marketing platforms/campaigns/ideas appeal to you?
With this response ‘Free ones.‘
It was a real ice-breaker moment. I laughed; sure she did too. And the conversation flowed like wine at Christmas…
Me: Does quality matter? Effective techniques?
Armelle: Quality of products and word of mouth very important.
Me: And do you feel you are currently targeting the correct market? Do you know the platforms well? What do you feel #socialmedia has done for your business?
Armelle: Helps spread the word, good way to show what i do,pics work great, direct ppl to website. got new customers throu FB and twitter
Armelle: Word of mouth…yep I agree, am starting to use that too…twitting since june
Me: Is text talk ok? (you/u people/ppl) ?
Armelle: I keep on telling other local businesses to use it more, but they dont realise they need it. #SMECommunity great help too!
Me: Great! How did this affect your reputation? Were u worried about your tweets/comments + what ppl thought?
Armelle: Not really, am always honest and dont share info thats too personnal.
Me: The internet is powerful for building relationships,networking,collab + sharing. Low-cost + effective (but I’m biased : 0 )
Armelle: I agree! (The) #SMECommunity needs to move with time and use modern tools we have!
Me: When did you first start using social media for your business? And were you sceptical?
Armelle: Home in January 2010. I wasn’t sceptical because I had already set up a personal page so I had an idea how it worked but wasn’t sure how much of an impact it would have on the business. But starting from home I thought it would be a great way to show what i was doing, as well as the website I did up.
I started to have regular orders, both from word of mouth and from facebook. A couple of articles in local newspapers also helped telling people I existed Within the 1st month I had about 10 orders through facebook, and needless to say I was delighted! With orders growing, I knew that I would have to take the step of opening up a proper bakery if I wanted to keep the momentum going. We got the keys of the shop in august 2010 and started refurbishing straight away. I kept on uploading pictures of our progress on the website and facebook, and kept on receiving good wishes and words of encouragment. Since then I make sure to keep my facebook page updated regularly and interact with other people and small businesses.
Me: When did you start to see the benfits of social media?
Armelle: I only started with twitter last june, but really got into it in august, since we went away in july visiting family. I quickly found the #SMECommunity twitting peeps whith whom i find fantastic support, and help if needed. A few people came in the shop after following me on twitter; people i would have probably never get to know if it hadn’t been for twitter!
I keep on telling my fellow business owners in Kilcullen that they should use the social medias more, and take advantage of being able to display what they do for free, and make connections…but unfortunatly I think that some of them dont realise they actually need it nowadays. That won’t stop me from telling them to use it more though!
Me: We touched on reputation briefly, and you said you were selective when posting. How would you react to negative comments from others on your accounts and how do you feel this would reflect on your business reputation?
Armelle: Regarding the reputation, if someone was to leave a negative comment I would firstly be disappointed in myself I think; and use the feedback to fix whatever that customer would have been unhappy with. I’d rather have someone expressing a disappointment directly to me on one of my social media accounts, rather than discovering it on some remote forum for example.
I think a negative comment would only affect my reputation if I chose to do nothing about it; but I am very hands on and want to deliver the best products possible.
Me: Have you dropped other forms of marketing? If yes, which actvities?
Armelle: I haven’t done any other form of marketing. I had another couple of articles published in september for the 1st year open of the shop, but from the journalists good will .
Me: And lastly, do you feel that your activity will grow over the next 24 months on these channels?
Armelle: Yes, I definitly think my activity will grow over the next 24 months, simply because I am going to keep at it![I] am a strong believer that the trick for the food industry is to deliver a good product for the price. People’s mentality towards food is also changing, and customers are looking a bit deeper in what they eat, and that’s a good thing! And even though the recession is obviously not a good thing; one thing it did is clean up some of the restaurants that were either badly managed, or serving bad quality food.
What has Armelle’s experience taught us about social media?
- It’s apparent to me that gaining positive results; like Armelle’s, is all about regular activity online. Keeping things fresh and exciting.
- Honestly and slang – the former is good customer service. The latter is the comfort level expected on social media platforms.
- Persistance pays off when you know you have a quality offering. Armelle is self-motivated with her eye on success.
- Recieving negative comments is part and parcel of customer service and social media, but what separate a company like Armelle’s Kitchen from others, is her ability to see past the comment, and respond. It would only affect her reputation if left to fester unanswered on the page.
- Armelle knows here industry well. She is responsive to economic change and uses social media to couteract/exploit these changes.
- Social media allows you to share what you do for free and helps you build connections with your clients/customers.
- Using communities can give your effort a boost. Armelle uses the #SMECommunity tag to reach a wider audience.
Has Armelle inspired you to spend more time investing in social media?
Are you struggling or winning on any of the platforms? If so, share your story with us and we will choose one for a case study in two weeks.