Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Making Sales with Facebook and Flickr

Isn't it great when things just happen unexpectedly in your favor? That's exactly what Janice Cusano (that's her on the right), recently experienced. This former professor, who left academia last year to pursue her passion for designing jewelry, ended up selling one of her pieces on none other than Facebook, the subject of my past few posts (I swear guys, I'm not getting a penny from them! I wish!). Her story had a few good tidbits, so I thought I'd share the serendipitous series of events that led to the sale.

A couple of weeks ago, Janice was looking to revamp the photos on her site (see it on Etsy). Her friend Kathleen offered to take new pictures for her, which she then posted on her Flickr account because it was easier than sending them by email (the files were pretty big). She also placed one of the pictures on her Facebook page, (the turquoise and coral piece on the left).

Later that same night, an old friend of Kathleen's from college (who wouldn't have been in contact with her if she hadn't found her on Facebook) saw the necklace and sent her a message saying she'd love to buy it, so Kathleen sent her the link to Janice's Etsy shop, and bingo--she made a sale (she bought the earrings below on the right).

Janice also noticed that there were 48 page views of the photo within an hour of Kathleen posting it on Flickr and Facebook. Pretty good exposure!

The funny thing is, Janice doesn't even have a Facebook page for herself (but thank God her friends do!). Because of her former life as a professor, Janice has had a long-standing bias against Facebook. When the site first started out it was only open to students, so there was a stigma attached to it for those in the academic field. Last year when she was still in her teaching position she did a search and found only one other professor that had a public Facebook page. In her profession, Facebook was a non-no because that's where all the students are, and "poking" wasn't exactly conducive to a professional relationship. Plus Janice likes to keep her personal life separate from her students (now former). However, she's slowly warming up to the idea, as more professionals join every day. She also sees how traffic has increased on her Etsy site because of Flickr and Facebook. (On Etsy you can check to see how many people are viewing each page and where they come from).

Janice finds other benefits from online social networks. "Not only has (Flickr) distributed my work far and wide, I have been able to build community in more specific ways that I hadn't by blog hopping. For example, I am a color fiend and symbols are important in my work. I joined the group 'Blue and Green' and met some incredibly like-minded artists who I connect with on many levels. I actually connected with one contact I had met at a show last September! Every time this happens, I feel a little less out in the cold."

That chance encounter online gave Janice the inspiration for a series of posts related to large jewelry on her Goddess Findings blog. The picture of her contact on Flickr showed her wearing a chunky necklace that Janice liked, so when she reached out to say "hi" she also complimented her on it and asked her to submit a photo and talk about what that piece means to her.

Janice adds that artists can put pictures of their studios, their work-in-progress or things that inspire them, which gives buyers a better sense of who they are. "On Esty you see what they have for sale, but the visual images on Flickr are stronger", she says. By showing people another facet of your life, you create more of a connection.

How are you using new media in your business? Please share your story with us!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

New Media in Puerto Rico

Happy New Year everyone! After almost two weeks away I finally got caught up and back to blogging. It was great to be in warm weather - Puerto Rico is fantastic this time of year. The temperature hovered around 80 degrees in the daytime while I was there, then dipped to the 70's at night, and it rained only once!

Those are pretty good conditions for jogging, which I try to do wherever I go, and luckily my mother's apartment where I was staying is close to one of the prettiest trails ever. It's the road that leads to Old San Juan, which still maintains its centuries old, colonial architecture and Spanish charm. I just had to take my camera along a few times to capture some of the beautiful scenery, as you can see from the photo above. For a complete visual log of the palm-tree lined promenade by the sea where I did my runs, visit my Facebook page.

Even though Puerto Rico may often lag in terms of the latest business trends, I was happy to see that new media has made its way there. If you do a search for "Puerto Rico" in Facebook you'll find over 500 pages, including ones for the main newspaper (El Nuevo Dia), three universities, afew radio stations, one for entrepreneurs (with 887 members), one for a major contemporary art musuem, one each for Apple, Walmart and Best Buy, one for a website that sells locally made goods (Antojitos), and one for a restaurant (Payá).

One thing that struck is that back home, networking is done more naturally - even a trip to the supermarket or to the bank will result at least one or two "hellos" and a bit of conversation, which is typical of small towns. I grew up in San Juan and came to the states to go to school when I was 14, so I still have many friends and acquaintances from back then. It seems that everywhere I went I bumped into someone I knew or someone that knew one of my four siblings, who all live there. I can't say the same thing happens to me in New York. It's seldom I'll see a friend on the streets or at an event, unless I expressly plan it that way. Here everything has to be arranged in advance, and God forbid you just drop by a friend's house uninvited! I definitely miss that feeling of community now that I'm back, so I'm grateful there's so many online social networks that exist, even though they may be second best!

How do you connect with friends and business contacts? Share your thoughts!