Teaching an Old Band New Media

Joe Vonder Haar, Co-Founder, iSee Store Innovations

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Starting a band was high on my retirement bucket list. With a few AB alumni, Barley Alive was formed. We would run a band the way we tried to run our business: with well-planned rehearsals, schedules, defining a target audience, product selection (song list), route to market (venues) and a marketing plan (communication and image). Getting into the product development was like being 18 again. However, changes in marketing in the music business since 1980 have been as dramatic as those in the business world.

Effective use of the social-media world is near the top of the opportunity list for retailers and suppliers. Social media for the band would be fun; however, the social-media presence for my new business venture would be crucial for effectively communicating our core mission of innovation for c-stores. How could we call ourselves innovators without a social-media element?

Questions to Ask Yourself

Experts in new media are hard to find, so I looked close to home for direction. As a millennial, NYU/SNL/MTV alum and current Scholastic writer, my daughter, Melissa, was called on to help the old man. Knowing the basics of our business initiatives at iSEE and as all good “consultants” are inclined to do, she presented questions rather than answers. You may want to ponder some of these for your own pages:

What is the ultimate goal of your Facebook/social-media pages? Many or all of these may apply to you:

  • Maintain up-to-date, relevant info on products
  • Cultivate relationships with relevant company pages
  • Interact with companies using your products
  • Draw new, relevant “fans” to the page
  • Interact with existing users

How “personal” do you want the page to be?

  • Do you want to include notable and relevant information about your team?
  • How involved does the team want to be in promotions?
  • Who needs to preview/approve posts and concepts?
  • What’s the frequency of review of the page and/or upcoming promotions?

Do you want to pool resources to develop videos/photos/ multimedia assets for the site?

The launch of iSEE Store and Barley Alive Facebook sites took place simultaneously in 2011. I confess I do not have a Facebook page myself, although I do have a phantom account. I am not alone in this; many of my friends monitor their children’s Facebook ventures while remaining invisible to old school mates and colleagues whom they are not interested in being “friended” by.

Facebook is on the list of banned sites for many companies. So we are learning how to implement consumer and storemanager incentives for posting on the Facebook page iSEE product-in-action photos and feedback as a more relevant use of this media, in addition to simple one-way communication.

Make the Commitment—or Not

Perhaps the most important factor in social media is commitment. My friend Kim James, a c-store retail marketing veteran, shared this point of view: “Social media is not something to experiment with. You have to be relevant, timely and committed.” Dedicating the resources to constantly having new, relevant information for your page is paramount; a Facebook page cannot stand still or it will stagnate. Kim also said, “It may well be better to never have a Facebook page than to have one that is stale.” At iSEE, we are implementing weekly postings to our page.

For the band, we had to know our target audience. If you visit us at facebook.com/BarleyAlive, you will see that postings come from my daughter’s friends, who are under the age of 30. Our 50-something fan base likes to see our photos and upcoming performance dates, but they leave no comment. As one of my best friends told me, “Email me or call me. I don’t do Facebook.” 

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