Monday, January 14, 2019

Dirty Little Secret

Most of our clients at work are seniors. If not seniors, then like fifty and above. We get random younger people, especially for repairs, but generally, the soccer mom is not our clientele. For anyone that doesn't know, the quick explanation of what we do is that we make custom lighting and repair people's old lamps, other lighting, and lampshades. That's the short version. The reason that seniors are our main clientele is because that is who seems to care about quality. People closer to my age tend to go to Home Goods and when something breaks, they just get rid of it. Our clients are usually bringing in lamps or chandeliers to shade or repair that they've had for years or that have sentimental value.

Because social media tended to skew younger in the past, and even having smartphones, I didn't always ask customers if they had any kind of social media accounts. We didn't even really do much for work on Instagram until much later than we could or should have because I didn't get it. It seemed foreign to me and I felt like Facebook was enough. Then, Facebook bought Instagram so I decided to check it out again.

I was able to post on Instagram and have it go directly to our Facebook page too so it was getting a two-for-one. We also have so many photos of product it was easy to post on a semi-regular basis. We're not particularly tech-y with the computers and devices so we actually couldn't update our real website for awhile. We'd used a company to make and manage the site, and they were basically holding it hostage, not allowing us to do anything to it on our end, even once we ended the relationship with them. At least with social media, we could post and it immediately current stuff would be out there for people to see.

Now. we probably post a few times a week. Some weeks, it's daily. People are very visual and what we do is very unique. Since there are very few people that make things in this country, there are even fewer that seem to fix things. We do, so we show that. Also, most of what we make or do to reinvent things, comes from our heads. We don't necessarily have an example of what we plan to do, physically, in our store. So we take photos. We post them so someone might see and say- hey, that looks like my lamp. I didn't even know I could do or have something like that done to it. Sometimes, people get nervous when we try to push the envelope of creativity, so it's much easier to get them on the same page if they can see we've done something along the same line as what we want to do with their piece.

If a customer or couple seems interested in what we do as a whole and seems to be considering doing other things than what they originally came for, I'll show them photos on our Instagram from my phone. But really, the best thing, is if they have a Facebook or Instagram account, is for them to like our page(s) and look at their leisure.

I ask. I say, "Do you have Instagram or Facebook?" and the responses range from frustrating, to confusing, to hysterically funny. The commonality is that none of them seem to want to ADMIT they have an account. Like it's Tinder and they're married. Sure, there are some, with flip phones, that say they don't do social media, and it's legit. I can tell. Then, there are others, who I KNOW, just don't want to say they do. And I'm not sure what the big deal is and why it's like their dirty little secret.

When the answer is, "No, no...I don't get involved in all that...." but they sort of trail off and there's a, face. A face where I just know they do and they just don't want to tell me. I then ask them if there is anyone in their household who might just have an account. I follow that up, QUICKLY, with something along the lines of - "I don't need you to POST anything on it. I just want you to be able to look something up..." Then they almost always admit they HAVE an account, but just don't go on it. Which, I'm not sure I really believe either, but who knows?

Once they admit to an account or two, I get a whole long explanation of WHY they have it at all. Most of the time, I could've already guessed- they opened it, or their kid opened it for them, to see pictures of the grandchildren. That's the answer ninety percent of the time. Not that I needed one. If only they'd just say they have an account to begin with. We could avoid this whole bizarre exchange and just get to where they can see the photos much quicker.

I get seniors being suspicious of social media. I know smartphones and social media apps are new to many of them. I know that hackers take advantage of seniors often, using Facebook messenger to make them think a loved one is kidnapped, to get ransom money. However, this pulling teeth kind of conversation just trying to give them a better way of seeing our work can be exhausting. The funny thing is, once I get them to our page(s), they're thankful to have the photos to look through!

So, if I ask you if you have Facebook or Instagram, and you DO, just tell me! I won't sign you up for a dating app, I won't try to get ransom from you. I just want you to be able to access photos of our work! It's to make you more comfortable when you've shelled out money for a magenta and green lampshade and you originally came to me thinking you were leaving with a plain white lampshade. Yes, that tends to happen often. You never have to use the account for anything else, except to look at our stuff. I promise.

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