I didn’t even mention the comic boards I ran during my old BBS days.

§ April 22nd, 2016 § Filed under question time, retailing Comments Off on I didn’t even mention the comic boards I ran during my old BBS days.

MrJM jams this question right in here

“T for D: Comics retailing and social media, i.e. In what ways have social media affected comics retailing? In what ways should social media affect comics retailing?”

I remember early in the days of what we once called “The Comics Blogosphere” there was a particular indie title that all of us comics bloggers were enamored of, and we would talk up and plug all the time, and that went on for months and months and ultimately the publisher said “yeah, it was big on blogs but still didn’t sell worth a damn.”

Things are a little different now, in that social media is only a pulling-the-phone-out-of-the-bag-or-pocket away for people, so there is that portion of the customer base now that is more immediately informed (or misinformed, depending on what sites they’re looking at). That requires me keeping more on my toes regarding the latest developments in the industry, or at least knowing where to go to look up anything that turns out to be news to me.

As a retailer, social media does allow me new, direct venues to contact my customer base. At the previous place of employment, we would mail out newsletters through USPS to everyone in the customer database. Now, with Facebook and Twitter and an embedded blog on the store’s webpage and many, many other communication options, I can have more immediate and consistent contact with customers. I mean, sure, none of this is particularly news to anyone, but I do marvel at the slow creep of additional online ways to maintain these relationships. Email access and a website to advertise the shop/plug our wares really were game-changers, in that I had no idea how I managed to do anything without having those particular tools at my disposal. The other goodies, like your “Twitters” and your “Instagrams” and “Facebooks” and such have gone from interesting gimmicks to near-essential tools to connecting to your clientele.

Now, MrJM, your question is how social media specifically affected retailing, and how it should affect it. Well, what it does and what it should do is what I mentioned already – facilitate communication between the shop and the customer. More communication = more positive relationships = more awareness of wants and needs of the clientele = more business. I mean, ideally, anyway. You always hear about someone representing a business saying ridiculously awful things online, and the comics business ain’t no exception, but so long as you’re not a dummy about it, social media is great.

Yes, I put my nickel down on the idea that the internet is useful. I’m cutting edge that way.

Now, whether or not the situation I described at the beginning would have been different today, with the expanded role of online discourse in our industry…I don’t know. I’d like to think so, with more avenues of information available to increasing numbers of potential readers, but information overload is also a problem. Yes, it may be easier to push information about your new book in front of more eyes, but it’s easier for everyone else, too, and “extra exposure” can quickly become “lost in the shuffle.” So technology has made it easier to make things not as easy, and doesn’t that just figure.

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