I’ve known Patti Taggart online for 3 or 4 years now, but I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know her in person over the last two years since we (finally) met! Patti is the owner of a fabulous little toy store in the west end of Ottawa called Tag Along Toys. She’s built a loyal, engaged, and active audience in her years of using social media, but she doesn’t do it by constantly telling people about her store. She does it by building relationships.
One of my very favourite reasons to visit Patti’s store is how wonderful and helpful she and her staff always are. Patti is an Early Childhood Educator (ECE), so her product choices reflect a commitment to help children develop a range of skills and interests through play. I’ve gone in with questions about what toy can help develop this or that and I always get great advice about what to get. I asked Patti if she’d mind answering a few questions about how she uses social media for us, and here’s what she had to say:
1) How long have you been in business?
Tag Along Toys opened in 2001, so just shy of 12 years. :)
2) Business owners often run businesses that tie in to personal interests or passions - what inspired you to start Tag Along Toys?
I am a Registered Early Childhood Educator. I had worked in the field for over 10 years at the time and thought maybe I could expand my use of ECE. I knew that Kanata did not have a specialty toy store and thought it would be a great complement to my education to open a toy store, as its related to my field in many ways.
3) What do you want customers to feel when they walk in your store?
I want them to feel welcomed and comfortable to walk around but also to feel we are approachable and open to help them find the perfect gift for the children on their list.
4) How do you convey that through social media channels?
I use Facebook quite a bit - not everyday - but at least 4-5 times a week. I use Twitter daily if I can to let people know about what’s new in store or what’s taking place in store.
5) How long have you been using social media to promote your business?
I have been using Facebook for almost 4 years and Twitter for almost 4 years too.
6) How much time do you spend daily/weekly managing your social media (and do your staff help)?
I don’t have my staff help me; I do it myself. I spend approximately an hour a day working on social media on both twitter and Facebook.
7) An hour a day can be overwhelming to a small business owner just starting out. But ultimately, that’s only 4-5 hours a week based on your answers. What would you say to the business owner that tells you they don’t have an hour a day?
Take 10 mins a day to sit and update Facebook pages, add a new item, ask your customers questions. On twitter try to do a minimum of 2-3 tweets a day and interact with at least 2-3 followers. Set aside 10 mins a day if you can. :)
7) What advice would you give to business owners who are thinking about or just starting out using social media?
Don’t be scared, don’t be shy. Put yourself out there and engage with your followers - not only about your business, but about some of your interests too, as it makes people get to know you the business owner and feel that much more comfortable to come into the store and start a conversation about a post or something you were talking about on social media. You get to know your customers better too. :)
It does take work but if you can put aside a bit of time each day it will help grown your business and target new audiences everywhere.
Last summer, Tag Along Toys launched its brand new website that includes online shopping AND a blog! It’s an exciting time for Patti and her staff as they grow the business beyond the brick and mortar storefront. Thank you for the great advice! You can follow all of Patti’s updates by liking Tag Along Toys on Facebook and following on Twitter.