There is a phrase in the technology community that is extremely important for all business owners to be aware of. It ensures that you don’t end up in the situation where you’ve got a prospect in front of you and they are wondering why you’re not feeding your dog the dog food that your company produces. I think I’ve also heard this referred to as the “dentist with bad teeth” syndrome. In either case this post is a little self-promotional, but also 100% honest and transparent.
It all started in late 2009 when my wife and I decided to launch our Atrevete business with a one-of-a-kind Zero Gravity machine which Arizonans have yet to see. I was new to using social media for business even though I had been using it personally for many years prior. I made the same mistakes that many business owners make when first learning about social media. I tried to get as many eye balls looking at my messages as possible.
I created a Twitter account and proceeded to follow pretty much ANYONE in the state of Arizona. I found a few little programs that would help me gain new followers very quickly. I also created a couple Facebook accounts and began to do similarly. The MySpace account was a snap too as I found a program that automated the connections. Within a few short weeks I had thousands of people in Arizona connected with my new business across the social web.
Luckily, I understood back then that I couldn’t be successful if the accounts were 100% self-promotional. I would send out messages to all of my networks using Ping.fm that would ask about the weather, what people were doing as well as ones promoting our new business. Within a few short weeks I had nailed our first booking from the promotions on Twitter. This process was working really well.
What I’ve left out up until now, was that I was already working a full time job and running a second company, and I really didn’t have much time at all to be the social media marketer for our new Atrevete business. I needed a more efficient way to keep this moving. I needed something automated to save me time. Everywhere I looked I kept finding scheduling tools that required I chose the dates/times for every single message. What’s the point of scheduling if it takes you twice as long as posting manually?!?
After hunting high and low and being disappointed, I decided to build something myself. I found that the Ping.fm system I was using had a simple API which would allow me to automate quite a bit of what I was doing manually across social networks. The new “SocialBot” was born!
With a little help from a few of my developers, it was immediately saving me at least 10-15 hours per month. It allowed me to spend 30 to 60 minutes each week gathering up my content and then simply uploading it to be sent during the week. I was ensuring that my followers on Facebook were getting separate content from the ones on Twitter or MySpace.
I’m not condoning that you go follow everyone in your state like I did. It’s actually created a big mess that I am now trying to clean up, but I didn’t know any better at the time. You can go read some of our posts on the Garious blog if you want to learn how to do it right.
Now that Garious is a full-fledged product I am amazed at what I’ve been able to accomplish. Not only do I have quite a few followers connected to all of my accounts (legitimately), but I consistently run into people that say “Oh, I know you from (Twitter, LinkedIn, Yammer, Facebook, etc)” and it completely breaks the ice.
Our Atrevete accounts are now the primary way that we differentiate our Zero Gravity for events. We’re able to negotiate with event promoters on the basis that we bring a LOT of people with us to each event. With a solid connection to over 2000 families in Tucson that love riding, it definitely helps us as well as the event holders!