Founded in 1745, Moravian Book Shop in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is the oldest continuously operating bookstore in the world! In addition to selling books, Moravian Book Shop sells local merchandise, hosts events, and is home of the award-winning Colony Meadery.
In the following interview, we learn how social media is an extension of customer service and follows the same rules. However, we see the dilemma of trying to reach a customer base that hasn’t yet adopted social media. At the same time, we see how social media sites create opportunities to reach new customers around the world. And, being able to claim the novelty of being the oldest continuously operating bookstore in the world, it’s easy to see why people worldwide would seek it out!
Q: Which social media sites do you use for your business? How do you use each one and how do they connect viewers to your website?
MBS: We use most social media sites, but our favorites are Facebook and Twitter. We do use Pinterest and one of our staff members is just beginning to explore Instagram. We are still getting a feel for what works. I personally like Facebook the best since it allows for direct feedback. I use it to list all our events and share them as they get closer, but we also share articles and humorous memes related to books which often get the most responses. It’s also a great way to connect with other businesses in the area to see what they have planned and for cross promotion. We are working on using Pinterest and Instagram more to promote products and ideas on how to use them.
Q: How do social media sites help or hamper your business?
MBS: I don’t think they have hampered us at all. It’s a bit hard to gauge how they help us as far as sales go, but I think it’s certainly helpful to get our name out there. It is also inexpensive, as we really only need to pay staff members using it, so it’s wonderful for advertising. We try to keep our posts positive and fun and most of our responses are the same. If people think of us with good feeling after they see a post, that goes a long way.
MBS: To be honest, I don’t really check them that often. Luckily, most of ours have been positive. If we do see something negative, we try to address the complaints among the staff so we can improve our customer service and avoid bad reviews in the future.
Q: What do you wish social media could do that it doesn’t do at the present time?
MBS: We are relatively new to using social media, so in a way we are still exploring all that in can do. I wish it would reach more people, though. We have a large demographic that still seems a bit intimidated by social media, or doesn’t even know it exists. As it gets easier and easier to use, I hope these fears will fall away so we can reach more people.
Q: What challenges and opportunities do you foresee for small businesses as society goes deeper and deeper into cyberspace?
MBS: We struggle so much with the online shopping vs. the brick-and-mortar stores competition. The answer seems to be: both. We do allow for shopping online via our website, but there is a lot to be said about the experience of visiting the shop itself, especially due to our history, and our customer service. A lot of customer service has to do with conversations between staff and guests. Social media allows for that conversation to happen in cyberspace now. I see the two melding more and more. If people have that interaction online, it may drive them to visit the actual shop. Cyberspace also allows us to connect with people anywhere in the world; people who otherwise would never get to visit us or know we exist. In general, I think that these connections allow for more diversity in the world and that is great!
Q: Any other thoughts about how social media affects your business?
MBS: I would like to see more feedback on what shoppers and visitors want from businesses on social media. We tread very carefully between not wanting to inundate people with too much information to the point where it gets annoying, or not enough information so they forget we exist. Again, it comes down to customer service, and we always want to do our best.