Saturday, June 20, 2009

Using social networks you don't yet know about

A woman phoned me the other day with a question about her perfume business. After a pleasant conversation (I tried to help her as best I could) I asked her to send me an email with a link to her website or whatever so I could find out a bit more about her and her perfumery work.

The email arrived. No website was listed. But, when I cranked her name into Google, all sorts of links popped up because she was actively using the internet in blogs and various social networking sites to talk about her background and perfumery work and make her creations known. This is great.

This week I made my own discovery about social networks: there are more social networks out there than you might think. Let me tell you what happened.

I have been reworking the copy and graphics on my website, which is my retail store for the fragrances I create. In the distant past I had always used live models and original photography for my advertising but in recent years I had gotten away from that. Now I decided it was time to once again recruit models, shoot new photos, and use these pictures to build my new web pages.

For models -- since I'm located well outside of New York City -- I turned to our local Craigs List and advertised under "talent gigs." Craigs List is a great network in itself but one person who responded gave me a link to her portfolio at Model Mayhem, an international networking site for models, photographers, makeup artists, photo retouch artists, etc. I had never heard of it but I jumped.

In a short time I was showing MY portfolio on Model Mayhem while advertising for models on our local Craigs List.

I got the models I wanted -- some really great people -- but that wasn't the end of the story.

When you photograph someone for an ad they are always eager to see the ad when it comes out. I was moving pretty quickly on the new web pages for this project and notifying the models as the pages with their image were completed and posted. I knew THEY would want to see those pages. What had NOT occurred to me was that each of THEM had their own following and immediately, after seeing themselves in the ad, sent an email blast to all their friends and contacts -- other photographers who might use them in the future, client possibilities, and gosh only knows who else.

So the models became MESSENGERS, sending people to my website. Best still, since they are active daily in pursuing new assignments, they continue to send people to my website so that people can see their picture in my ad pages. All of a sudden traffic on my site was increasing dramatically. (My web stats showed it was from the models.)

Now this blog is an effort at honesty in what REALLY happens when you go out to market a perfume so I'm going to share some inside information with you that you probably won't find elsewhere.

First, my "retail store" website does not (yet) draw a lot of traffic (although I've noticed that Microsoft's new Bing search engine pops it up pretty quickly). The traffic generated by the models was a big addition.

In the second place, traffic does not necessarily translate into sales. Getting people to your website is one thing. Getting them to buy from you is something else. Building traffic is essential for a website but, to make money from it, you've got to convert browsers into buyers and this -- quite frankly -- is neither easy nor automatic. It takes a good deal of thought and strategy.

But let's look forward a bit. What about all these models, friends of models and business connections of models? You KNOW a bit about the models because you have just worked with them. They TELL you about others they have worked with or hope to work with. So could this constitute a niche market? Could you develop fragrances that NAME THEM??? Call out to them??? Say to them, "This fragrance will bring you GOOD LUCK in your endeavors if you wear it because it was crafted just for YOU!"???

Now isn't that a thought that has some possibilities? Fragrances developed specifically for a niche social networking group?