Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Can A Soap Handicraftsman Be Social?

Chatting with Ana Garcia, Soap Handicraftsman.

Can Handcraftsmanship be Social?
Some time ago I concurred with Ana, a neighbor, with whom I’ve shared occasional comments about her entrepreneurship.

Ana is dedicated to manufacturing handmade soaps and, since she knows I'm in the computers’ area, she always asks me about computer’s stuff: my computer is running really slow, one day it starts acting up, on her own. As people say, the regular stuff for computer’s guys.

In one of the last conversations we had, having meal with some friends, the social networking subject came up to the table, and Ana said she didn’t completely understand what the point was. She agreed it’d be fine, but she’d rather talk with people on the street, as she’s always done, and she even said that chatting and spending all day long in front of the computer was not on her mind, much less sharing every little thing she does on a regular day. She even recognized herself skipping private-life oriented conversations with her neighbours.

The fact is that in that conversation some of the guys were defending having a social media presence, some were not, and at the end, everyone went home with their own ideas about the subject.

Ana and I got together again and the conversation came up, and I said to Ana:

- Ana, let’s have a vermouth and chat about social media and soap handcraftsmanship. What do you say?

- It’s ok for me Joaquin, but you’re not going to convince me. You know how I feel about it.

- I assure you, Ana, the last thing I want is to convince you of anything, let's just chat, okay?

And that's how the conversation started.

- Ana, how did you get started on creating handmade soaps, or better yet: how did you make people aware of your new initiative?

- Well, you know Joaquín, it all started as a casual activity. I build my soap-making workshop and started doing some testing. When I had a product that I liked, I invited some friends to test it and let me know their opinion about its texture, smell, the feeling it gave them while using it. I even said to them: “They aren’t ornaments, Ok?! You’ve got to use them because I’d like to know what you think.”

- At first, I gave away the first soaps: They were solely for testing purposes. My friends allowed me to know what they liked and what they didn’t thus giving me a chance to improve my product. Initially they received my soaps at home, but after that, I contacted a small home & decor shop owner so I could have my products for display and sale at her place.

- Good! I think you have attended craft fairs also, with people from the area, right? How about these fairs? Last time you were dressed as an Andalusian, if I remember correctly - I joked.

- Yes, it was kind of medieval themed fair - Ana answered, smiling - I liked it a lot: you contact other craftsmen and then exchange emails and ideas with them. I can get to know  how they decorate their products, and promote them in the show and it's also a way to talk to people. It doesn’t generate many sales, but always gives me ideas and suggestions, and for me, that's important: Knowing what other people think and feel about me and my product. It all helps me improve.

At the end, Ana, where are your sales coming from?

- Fundamentally from the store, then I receive orders by mail from people that have come to know about me through my website, you know, one of those DIY web pages, where I showcase what I do, have some pictures for product presentations, a contact address, email and phone number and just about that. But Joaquin, weren’t we supposed to be talking about social networks?

- Sure thing, Ana, and we are actually talking about social networks. Imagine for a moment that we are in the craft fair we were talking about. What do you see?

- Well, I can see artisans’ stands showcasing their products.

- Exactly. You can also see there is a lot of people in the square, some are your friends, and come here because they know you in a personal way, but there are others who don’t know a thing about you and simply come because they’re interested in the products you sell and manufacture.

- Yes, it's true. Moreover, there is one who is a huge follower of the fairs and we have concurred on many occasions, although I can’t say we have come to be friends. He’s always been interested in my products and we’ve chatted several times about them and how I manufacture them.

We're talking about a social network: people communicating with each other.

You, and all who come together in the square, we are all represented in this network by our personal profiles and are connected by friendship ties with people we actually know in real life, and with people who are simply interested in what we do. This also happens in Facebook, (which would be the fair), where you connect with your true friends because you know them well, and there are people who connect with you simply because they are interested in your work, when you have a business page.

There are also other networks, such as Twitter and Pinterest for example, where people are connected in different ways. Twitter, as I like to put it, is about birds chirping in the park, all at the same time without trilling to no one in particular, but it serves to quickly spread out short messages. On Pinterest, is about using images more than words, but as you see, all networks will serve to convey information, interact with people and therefore receive that much-needed feedback for your business.

- You know? You've convinced me. I want to be in social networks! I think it’d be a good way to promote my business and also to receive the comments and criticisms of my clients and friends. Without this information it’s very difficult to improve and advance in business. When do we start?.

And this way, Anna, the soap handicraftsman, begins her journey through social networks, creating an extension to her business, opening a "new space" in which to meet with clients and friends, to interact and learn from them how to create a better product.

What about you? when do you finally jump into this exciting new world of social networks?

Author: Joaquín Gómez Moreno.
Graduated in Chemistry. Professionally dedicated to Sap Business One advisory, musician by vocation and actually falling in love with Digital Marketing and Social Media as Community Manager.@gomezbar39

Related post: Relationships Value: What can you expect from Social Media?

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