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Social Media Networking

A Busy Orchard Farm bee

Yesterday at 7.30 am (had to get that in) I was in Chesterfield, 40 minutes’ drive away, to attend a Breakfast Briefing’ on ‘What’s New in Social Media’. It was stimulating, fast moving and very informative, presented by someone whose life-work it is: he really knows and lives for his social media. For those of us who dabble with some enjoyment but no expertise and even less time, the message is daunting.

Using ‘Social Meeja’ is a networking must for individuals and a marketing must for small business and large corporations. The large organisations have huge departments, and budgets; little people like us have nothing to call on but ourselves in a day which doesn’t grow any longer. It is very exciting, but it is also very sobering to think that we are all in thrall to the Microsoft and Google type giants who are continually competing to woo customers to their tills.

Yesterday we learnt in a fast-moving workshop that Google+ is a must, as is Pinterest, and what about LinkedIn? And Facebook has completely changed all its rules so we must learn them, and Twitter – a mass of hyperlinks and self-promotion perhaps should (or so it seems to me as a Twitter ignoramus). Everything is getting slicker, quicker, different. How quickly things change…

Twelve years ago when Tom’s Barn was first born as a ‘top of the (then) range’ luxury holiday cottage for two, we did not even have a website. At first we used a letting agency, and as one of several thousand properties we featured in their brochure. The whole process of booking was lengthy and time-consuming as all our correspondence was done by post and guests paid by cheque. The agency jealously guarded the rights to ‘their’ property and strongly discouraged returning guests or others from trying to make any independent approaches at all, even when they had not provided a booking for the dates in question.

We quite soon decided to break away from the agency. As we launched out into the scary unknown, we realised there was a price to be paid for exciting independence in terms of cash and hard work and as well as everything else we would have to provide our own publicity. We designed our first, extremely amateur leaflet ourselves (soon replaced by an extremely expensive but much more ‘grownup’ version. Then we commissioned our first website which we thought was wonderfully sophisticated but was actually rather lumbering and cumbersome and we had to rely on the very patient designer man to make every change that was necessary which could mean waiting months.

We were accepted to join Premier Cottages who also had a website, but also cumbersome in current terms. And now we are on our fourth website version, the majority of bookings are done online, all correspondence is done by email. And do we have more time now that everything is so slick? For all sorts of good reasons the answer seems to be less than ever…! The not so good reason is the lure of social networking – enjoying what you can do, and trying to get to grips with what you are still tackling. Facebook is the biggest time-waster, but such fun. I have started with Pinterest and Google+ and am determined to make a go of both, eventually. Of the two Google+ is thought to be potentially very important for all sorts of Google-significant reasons including featuring well on Google searches.

My current dilemma is I can’t seem to find more than about ten of our friends, colleagues and business contacts who use it yet. If any kind soul reads this who can help out, please let us join circles!!! Otherwise, just pity me.

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