Christina Blount Presnell is the owner of YarnMountain.com a global web store run from Harrisonburg, in the mountains of Virginia in the USA. She has been at the forefront of using Google+ to find new customers to build her business.
Her main objective of using Social media/Google+ is to reach her market with a focus on building connections and community with her customers. Christina says that community (Google+ has a community building platform built within it which is also integrated with Google+ Hangouts video conferencing) gives the customers something to do and share around the products sold in the store but also allows the members to connect with each other. Christina runs 4 different hangouts in 4 different time zones throughout the week.
Her main reason for focusing on Google+ was that it gives her a wide range of functionality for online marketing only normally available to large companies and for very low cost (she doesn’t pay for PPC as her Google+ presence means she ranks highly in organic search anyway). More importantly, Google+ also gave Christina the ability to create connections and community around her business taking things past just “targeting an audience”. Christina explains her Google+ strategy in more detail here.
Christina built her online customer base not from her local market, but by using #tags from within Google+ and searching on key phrases, then connecting with people, “they get to know me, I get to know them”. As she runs her business day to day servicing customers, she has found that the connections/relationships she has made means that customers will place orders during a hangout because its just convenient to do so.
Christina used Google+ because she was wary of using the traditional marketing approaches of a small business and focused on building community and connections as more shoppers are moving online. She now ships to 37 countries around the world from her Yarn shop. In terms of time, Christina is a Mum so has many responsibilities and so is very structured in her time online, using a smart phone for urgent requirements.
Her top tip is to know what it is you want to do and realize that the activities you place online need to go beyond the numbers game to making real human connections, there being a second or third of effect that takes place when building those connections online. Finally to think big and think beyond standard marketing and how you are really going to connect with your audience.