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'Playing nice' propels Wired2Fish to more than 100,000 'likes'
Photo: Wired2Fish COO Todd Hammill
Social media can be a bit like the children’s birthday party circuit, said Todd Hammill, chief operating officer of Grand Rapids-based Wired2Fish.
“If you have a young daughter with a birthday coming up and she wants to get a lot of presents, you’ll have to send her to a lot of other kids’ birthday parties – with presents,” he said.
In other words, if you want people to “like” your company’s page or posts, you need to like theirs.
The principle of “playing nice” is one of several that have helped propel Wired2Fish to more than 100,000 “likes” on Facebook. And, it’s a number that’s now growing by a whopping 20,000-plus per month.
Although the plunge into social media may be free or at least low cost, growing numbers like the ones posted by Wired2Fish take years of time and effort. And it’s definitely a give-take process.
“Most people use social media as a way to push their stuff out with no way for people to respond,” said Hammill.
Social media is a natural fit for Wired2Fish, an online bass fi shing content site with a business model that attracts advertisers for its revenues. The company is owned by twin brothers and fishing
enthusiasts Scott and Marty Glorvigen. Wired2Fish previously operated under the same umbrella as Gemini Sport Marketing, a company that specializes in made-to-order tournament jerseys and apparel. The two entities began a business separation process several years ago although both are still housed in the same building.
With its social media presence, Wired2Fish has the overall goal of driving people to an information-rich website. It’s a strategy that’s working. In January, the site hit a record 193,000 unique visits and more than 1 million page views.
“We’re filling a stadium every month,” Hammill said with a smile.
Filling a stadium every month has its costs, however. While many companies approach social media with a “build it and they will come” philosophy, Hammill said that simply isn’t the case. Building a social media audience takes time and a great deal of effort.
The efforts of Wired2Fish not only attract visitors to the company website but also have netted notice from other businesses. Locally, Hammill is in demand to share what he’s learned. He recently addressed the newly formed Itasca Area Social Media Breakfast group, which meets monthly in Grand Rapids.
Troy Anderson, owner of White Ivy Design in nearby Coleraine, has been highly active in the local social media Mobile Web Design movement. He credits Itasca Economic Development Corp. for spearheading the effort to help local businesses better utilize technology.
IEDC “was trying to amp up on technology,” said Anderson. “There are a lot of people doing some really cool things out there.”
“The overall need IEDC was trying to fill is businesses learning from other businesses,” said Sandy Layman, an IEDC consultant.
The importance the company’s social media presence plays in day-to-day operations at Wired2Fish is evident throughout Hammill’s office. In addition to multiple computers, there’s a big screen on the wall, constantly monitoring and analyzing website visits through Google Analytics.
Wired2Fish jumped into social media in 2009. Hammill said it’s because, at that time, they didn’t have a way to interface readers with the website. The strategy has been an overwhelming success – Wired2Fish has not only been successful at driving traffi c to its site but also in monetizing the results.
“We have 60-plus customers that are paying to be on our site,” he said.
Although Hamill and the other three employees, who are located throughout the country, use several social media outlets, Facebook is by far the biggest driver. “It’s our number one referral site,” he said.
Hammill might seem like a tech geek and he is, no doubt, competent in the social media world. He said, however, that the secret to success isn’t just about understanding technology, but people.
“People do business with other people, not with businesses,” he said.
Anderson also sees the value of personal connection in the local social media effort. He reported that a number of breakfast speakers have been recruited through “personal connection.”
Whether the social media task at hand is finding expert speakers or increasing traffic to an online site, it’s all about connecting with others in an engaging way. It’s for that reason that suggesting that people “like” your Facebook page, hiring an outside fi rm to post to social media outlets or even throwing a great deal of money at the issue through social media advertising are impersonal strategies Hammill doesn’t recommend.
“There has to be passion involved for this to work,” he said. “You have to put yourself out there.”
Hammill also has an unshakable belief that a “one and off” approach will never work. He said that timing (knowing when your prospective audience is using social media) can be more important than frequency. But he adds that a single Facebook post per week is “death.” Once a day is a bare minimum, he said.
Even with the tidbits he’s picked up along the way, in the end, a successful social media presence is somewhat a trial and error process.
“I treat all of this like a puzzle, and every day I find a little piece,” said Hammill.
While it may be a puzzle, Hammill appears closer than most to putting all those pieces together.
“He really knows what works and what doesn’t,” said Layman.Previous BusinessNorth Exclusives Articles:
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