Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Ready For The First Step

Have you ever been with a person at the precise instant they realized a dream?  It just happened to me on Monday night and I am so privileged to have been sitting exactly where I was sitting at that special moment.

My yoga teacher, Margaret, owns her own studio which she has nurtured with loving kindness for over three years, maybe four.  Pipal Leaf Yoga Studio was about the size of a modest dining room, always filled with mindfulness and peace.  So popular are the evening classes that sometimes the students have to set up in the hallway outside.  When the absentee tenant next door continued to neglect his space, Margaret began inquiring about renting that space and breaking down the dividing wall to expand her studio.

Well, this Monday evening was the grand re-opening after weeks of sledgehammers, plaster and paint.  It is now twice the size, still intimate, glowing with candles and warmed by the honey-colored floors and earth-toned walls.  As I sat in front of Margaret as she gently brought the class to a close, I felt the extra warmth of a dream realized, in a single tear and an intense feeling of gratitude.

Now we have to fill it!  My first step in bringing Margaret’s business to the next level is to develop a social media strategy.  For a small yoga practice (and for many businesses, for that matter) we need to cut through the business-speak and raise the social media comfort level of Margaret and her team of instructors.  

A recommended first step is Understand what is involved, secure internal buy-in, and forecast required resources and costs. The best way to understand what is involved, without actually doing it, is by reading case studies -- look on popular social media websites such as Social Media Examiner for some great examples.  These sites also offer tools in the form of ebooks, podcasts, archived webinars, and blog posts by topic that can provide a crash-course in understanding how social media fits in small businesses.

Secure internal buy-in can seem like a mouthful.  But for many small businesses, this may be a non-issue.  As in Margaret’s case, she is totally on-board and now it is a matter of figuring out whether the other instructors want to participate and to what extent.  We might discover a closet blogger in the bunch; or a great photographer who can help dress up the website, blog and Facebook page.  The minimum buy-in we need is their understanding of Pipal Leaf Yoga’s web presence and having them talk it up with their students.

Forecast required resources and costs means how much time and money will it take to expand the website with a blog, create a business Facebook page and set up a Twitter account.  Then the fun begins!  It is important to be able to define how much time it will take to maintain this new web presence – posting blogs, inviting, responding to and engaging followers on Facebook, keeping up with Tweets and building a community around the things Pipal Leaf Yoga loves. It is evolving work whose demands will be more visible over time.  But once the mechanics are in place, the passion of the people behind the posts and entries will help grow the community.

That is step one!  More to come.  Namaste.

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