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The Social Media Shopping Mall

June 12, 2013

It’s doubtful you’ll have failed to notice that this coming Sunday is Father’s Day in the UK (and possibly across the world – I think Mother’s day is celebrated on different dates but the dads have joined en masse globally and come up with a singular day to claim as their own, good on ‘em). I have the somewhat double-edged blessing that I don’t need to concern myself with Father’s Day (unless I’m feeling particularly soppy and I might make Ben a chocolate pawprint and pretend it’s from the ungrateful cat). Yet I’m still bombarded with messages and advertisements everywhere I go, encouraging me to show Dad I care through the medium of personalised golf clubs or letter-openers. It’s not just from faceless corporations (although it’s mainly from I Want One Of Those. I don’t.). This year, it’s happening on social media too, and it seems I could choose to celebrate the day through the products of one of nearly a dozen friends of mine who have in the past 12 months set up their own little businesses online.

Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s marvellous, and I’d much rather buy presents from my friends than any of the retailers on the High Street (and not just because they’re cheaper and have better odds of getting my address, and indeed gender, right). I think my generation in particular has cottoned on to the fact that you don’t just need to have a day job to make money – there are literally endless means of using your creative and artistic talents to good use, and not only creating something lovely, but getting good money from it too. My friends’ numerous etsy, ebay, pinterest and independent shops sell everything from bags to brooches to bedding, from word art to cakes for all occasions, from mobile catering vans to vintage furniture. I need only scroll a couple of pages on my facebook or twitter accounts to be taken on a veritable shopping experience, and with the added bonus that my item won’t get lost in the post or they won’t take my money and do a runner. I know where you live!

The hubby and I were brainstorming last night and came up with an idea for a product that Everyone Should Own (this time next year, Rodders), and were talking about the fact that it’s so easy now to get publicity for things you want to sell. Just imagine a world without ebay, without facebook, twitter, Flickr and Pinterest, in which your product had to get past scores of gatekeepers before it was ever unleashed upon an unsuspecting public. Just imagine – wow, a good 15 years ago. How did they manage?! These days, you can get publicity for a product by asking for money to help build it – Kickstarter is not only a great source of revenue for budding entrepreneurs, but also a fantastic source of free publicity. Like minded people all looking at a great idea and wanting to be part of its success – it’s genius! Facebook can guarantee you hundreds, if not thousands, of views upon your eagerly-anticipated (by friends) launch, as they happily spread the word about your face-painting/baby-swaddling/cake-throwing business. Hardened tweeters will extol the virtues of their mate’s patchwork quilts/balloon animals/instagrammed photos of feet, if they think it will improve their Klout score. Even this blog has benefited from a bit of social media touting (thanks Mum), although I’m yet to figure out how to make money from it. Personalised father’s day flash fiction, anyone?

Anyway, my point is, I’m impressed by my friends’ creativity, business sense and tenacity, in that they will spend their time battling with complicated and tedious software in order to promote their products, generally at low-cost prices, which I’m pretty convinced doesn’t always even cover their own costs, let alone their time. And whilst I won’t be buying any stained glass windows/fake nails/perfumed pantyliners for my father-in-law (much as I think he’d like them), I wish all these little cottage industries the very best of luck, and will expect many a ‘share’ or retweet when the Davies Multi-Million-Money-Spinner gets underway…

From → Blog

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