I have chosen to evaluate Bluebird Arthouse, a art supply store in the Delano district which is owned and operated by a recent Master’s graduate of Wichita State, Emily Brookover.
Bluebird Arthouse is active in social media by having a Facebook page as well as a Twitter account. Their Facebook page is touching a wider audience by count of “likes” (1,179 currently) vs. their Twitter “follows” (145). It looks as if they have taken the hint, and put Twitter mostly on the back burner by making most of their Twitter posts be imported Facebook posts, with the occasional independent post that is strictly for Twitter. The majority of their posts go up between 11am-6pm.
They have developed mascot status in their resident feline, “Berty”, very well through their social media. Almost 1 of every 4 pictures posted since they adopted Berty are of her. Their social media posts tend to cover a few different kinds of things: events at the store, other local events, Berty, new/existing product, sales/discounts, inspiration or humor specific to art/artists, and works of art.
They seem to get a good amount of feedback on most posts. Several likes and then a couple comments from a diverse group of people (I did not find a trend of comments all coming from the same few people).
The owner Emily started a YouTube channel for the store and did a few art vlogs (interviewing artists) in preparation for the local event, ArtAid. I am curious to see if they continue with them or not, as I saw views on their last video (116) received over 8 times as many views as their first.
All these general observations being noted, I wanted to relate Bluebird Arthouse’s social media presence to what I have been learning in my social media class. I will divide this up by source.
Aiming at specific buyer personas with your social media
Because of my acquaintance with Emily I know that she is specifically aiming for at least 3 different customer types, the Occupational Artist, the Recreational or Craft Artist, and the Student Artist. I believe she is hitting all three of these target audiences with the content she airs in her social media presence.
By advertising her studio spaces and gallery opportunities, she definitely hits the student and occupational artists. By advertising local art events she appeals to all three. By advertising instructional classes, she appeals to her student and recreational/craft artists. By making posts about Berty and other community related topics, she appeals to all of her customers in an effort to develop and sustain a community within her own customer base.
What do you want your buyers to believe? Or, what are you really selling?
The owner wants her customers to believe that the store is something that benefits the community, and to promote community involvement through her store. By practicing what she preaches in caring about and being involved locally, Emily doesn’t just sell art supplies, she sells community to artists.
Speak in your buyers’ words
She speaks the language of her customers, because she is like her customers. She is an artist and communicates well to ‘her own kind’. This was another point of emphasis for the Scott book, speaking in your buyer’s words.
Don’t underestimate the power of free
As an owner without large chunks of money to throw into marketing, Emily is taking full advantage of FREE, by using social media as a powerful tool to develop her brand and connections with her customers/community. Without social media, customers wouldn’t know much or possibly be as adoring of the mascot cat, Berty. Without social media, customers wouldn’t know as much about upcoming local events that Emily and or the store participates in. She can add details to events information already in circulation, such as that the Flying Stove is coming to be a part of their Art Market event on Saturday, the 20th (Art Market goes from 10am to 5pm, the Flying Stove will be there 11am to 1:30pm).
Don’t obsess over competition, put fans first
Although you may view a post or two talking about why the staff and product at the arthouse make for a more pleasant shopping experience, most of their social media presence seems very personable and connected to their fans. Instead of broadcasting a continuous, “buy, Buy, BUY!!!” message, they communicate a consistent message that is their brand.
Suzuki of Wichita
Differentiate yourself from competitors
I do want to note that it is important to go ahead and do this, but also to have a balance, so that like the point from Scott, that it is NOT obsessive. When the time comes to toot their horn about being different and better than their competition, Bluebird isn’t shy about it. Also, with their creation of a real, live mascot in Berty, they have created additional emotional ties to the shop. And heck, she looks great on all those cool buttons too.
Eliminate the negatives
Bluebird is not shy to say that their staff is entirely made up of artists who can each find and then explain uses and techniques for just about all of their products, something that Hobby Lobby and Michael’s just cannot claim. This makes shopping for art supplies much less of a migraine-inducing activity.
I’m pretty sure you’ll agree I have covered this one a bit already, but let’s go ahead and take another stab at it. The arthouse is all the heck over community. You could say community is their bag. They reach out to the local art community through art events, instructional classes, product demonstrations, studio rentals, show/exhibition hosting, and through little details like their artist lounge, found object bin, and kiddie play area. They have created an environment in which artists feel welcome and engaged.
Here are a few of Mike’s ABCs to Social Strategy:
Content – Content is King. Duh. What are you going to share, discuss and push through your social channels? What do your customers want from connecting with you?
I think through their chosen content, the arthouse is very effectively connected to their customers in a positive way.
Enthusiasm – If you’re the only one rooting for social in the organization, it’s an uphill battle. Get others on board, especially decision makers and leaders.
I think the fact that they have a celebrated mascot–with a fan page of his own with 123 fans–is a very good testiment to the fact that the arthouse is not the only one excited that they exist. The constant and variety of feedback participants also is a good sign.
Fans and Followers – A strategy all on its own is how you’re going to gain fans and followers. Let your existing customers know using existing communication channels.
Thought the fan page on Facebook is doing reasonably well, I think that if they put social media links on their website, it would do them a LOT of good. Also, I would like to see a Twitter link on their Facebook page. Making things as interconnected as possible would be great.
Hit your social media audience during high traffic times
Learn to love the timestamp button
It would seem that in the time range that the arthouse usually posts (11am to 6pm), that posts seem concentrated around lunchtime 11-1:30 and then around the 5 o’clock hour. I wonder if this is a purposeful choice, and Facebook timestamp scheduled event, or simply coincidence in the slow moments left open to thought during their retail days. Who knows, but either way, I seems to work, based on the feedback I observed on most posts.
All in all I think Bluebird Arthouse is doing a great job making the most of their greatest free asset, social media.