Social Media Day 2010

Mashable recently declared June 30th, Social Media Day, and organized 340+ social media day meetups around the world.  I attended the one for Phoenix in Tempe at Madcap Theatres. 
Running late as I often am, I arrived at 6pm for the 5pm start, only to realize the first hour was a social hour, and I didn’t actually miss anything.  That was good and bad.  The bad part being, I attend things like this for the social aspect, so I was missing the “best” part of the event for me.
The meat of the meetup, however, was that attendees would be encouraged to give their own story about how social media had had an impact on their life or business.  Attendees were encouraged to run up on stage, grab the mic, and in a minute or so rattled off a story.  I arrived just as things were about to get underway with the formal portion, shorly before 6pm.  It was 110 outside, so I was looking forward to a cool evening, both literally and figuratively.  Sadly, I was disappointed on both fronts. 
First, literally, it was at least 90 degrees in the theatre.  The AC apparently doesn’t work at Madcap.  That’s NOT good for a theatre.  I hope they are able to get that fixed.
Secondly, figuratively, the people that shared stories, for the most part, shared quite lame stories.  Often, the social media relevance was completely lost.  Or if it wasn’t lost, it was tangential at best.  I suppose Ignite Phoenix, Social Media Club, and all of the various Bar Camps have spoiled me into thinking that the blossoming social media scene in Phoenix is a little smarter than we saw on Wednesday night.  Perhaps an event like this needs a little more than a week to plan.  That, and the organizers really should have had some “planted” stories, to uplevel the event. 
Sadly, what could have been a coup for social media, fell flat on its face this time. 
At any rate, before attending I was considering sharing a social media story, and so as not to let it go to waste, here is what I think is a super cool example of how social media has affected my life and business.
Yelp for business
This story involves Yelp.  Just before I opened Echo Coffee, I was contacted by a reporter from the Arizona Republic that said she wanted to do a business profile about Echo Coffee.  Naturally, I jumped at the chance, and we were able to set up the interview for the following Tuesday.    That Thursday, our first Thursday in business, the business profile ran in the Scottsdale Republic section of the newspaper, including a teaser on the front page of the section.  Revenue on that day was literally double what we did the previous day.  We almost completely sold out of all of our food/sandwiches in the kitchen over lunch.  It was a banner day.  Clearly “old” media still worked, and since that day, Echo Coffee has blown away all of my revenue expectations.
Here’s where social media comes in, though:  I asked the reporter, how did you hear about Echo Coffee?  Her answer:  Yelp.  That’s right.  If not for Yelp, a new school, social media website, Echo Coffee is never featured in the Republic.  I can easily give that one article credit for at least 50% of all sales my second week in business.  In fact, I still get occassional customers mentioning the article and recognizing me from the pictures. 
By the way, if you think that’s a fluke, the Echo Coffee blog is directly responsible for interviews that led to articles in the Phoenix Business Journal, 944 Magazine, and Fresh Cup Magazine
If you are a business owner, considering how social media can impact your business, you have to stop thinking about it, and just do it.  But do it socially responsibly.  Engage with your customer base.  Show that you care about them, not just their money.  They already know you want their money.  Let them know you care about all of the other things that make life worth living.