Meet my friend Bill Buyok, owner of Avente Tile LLC. Bill is an avid, yet deliberate, user of social media for his small business. He's also effective. Whenever I need an example of a business owner successfully using social media, including to generate leads, I refer to Bill and the Avente TileTalk Blog.
I'm not the only one! Bill contributed to the Floor Covering News Social Media Guide for Business 2011 with an article titled "Build your small business with a blog" on page 12.
I met Bill IRL [in real life] at Coverings 2010 in Orlando at that show's first ever Tweetup [see Meetups and Tweetups: Building Community]. Ever since, we've been in regular contact via Twitter, blog comments, email and Skype sessions. I'm looking forward to catching up with him at Coverings 2012 where he will be participating in the show's Social Media Lounge program!
Meanwhile, I think you will enjoy Bill's insights on why and how he uses social media for his business.
C.B.: Bill, tell me about yourself and how you got started with Avente Tile.
I started Avente Tile because I was looking for hand painted tiles with an old world design similar to some I had seen from Spain. I couldn’t find any designs in local showrooms, tile stores, or online. Once I found the right tiles, I fell in love with them and decided I would start a company to sell them.
Our namesake, Avente, is derived from the Latin 'abante' that means “before” or “at the forefront.” Avente LLC (“Avente Tile“) is dedicated to providing handcrafted tiles that are at the forefront of their class.
C.B.: How did you get started in social media? What made you start a blog?
I started blogging after a trip to the Dominican Republic after seeing cement tiles being made. I thought, “Wow, I want people to see how these tiles are made, how they are used, and the history.” It was then I realized how much information a blog can convey through dialogue that a corporate site usually can’t. Being able to provide a story about your products helps everyone understand their unique qualities and value. I also enjoy writing, but always find it challenging. What better way to hone my skills and share my unique perspective?
I started using social media in the fall of 2009. Friends encouraged me to use Facebook and Twitter. I naturally resisted – who had the time? But, I could see the possibilities behind these tools. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing; at the same time, I knew I could learn if I got started.
C.B.: What are all of the digital tools you use for your business? Why do you use them?
Blogging allows me to share my unique perspective about a product I love, Tile.
I use Twitter and Facebook to help broadcast this message. Facebook helps me connect with friends from my past. Twitter allows me to network with vendors, professionals and colleagues in my business and areas of interest.
LinkedIn is a great way to find professional support and share your message.
Pinterest is a great way to easily share visual concepts from me and others – which comes in handy with tile!
Flickr allows me to organize and share photos of tiles and installations.
YouTube gets a lot of traffic and can’t be ignored. Video is the most difficult media for me to work with, but it's very effective at showing processes like how tile are made or an order is packed.
C.B.: How do you integrate your blog with Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.?
Social media is a tool. Different tools do different jobs. Having different tools in your toolbox and knowing when and how to use them, makes you more effective. They all work best when they work together to help achieve your company’s marketing goals. I use Twitter and Facebook to broadcast my message and promote my brand. A new YouTube post can be part of your weekly blog post or included in your monthly newsletter. The connections you make on LinkedIn or Twitter might allow you to source new products, vendors, or services to improve your bottom line.
C.B.: What have you found to be most beneficial about blogging? [Note: click on "Build your small business with a blog" to read Bill's article.]
The list is long; the benefits many and a few surprised me. A blog is a great way to build your brand and create an online presence for your niche. Good blogs provide content that focuses on solving specific problems or providing valuable information.
Thanks to our blog, you can easily find our company website through online search and traffic to the site has increased. I negotiated better vendor pricing by blogging about specific products. I’ve received leads for commercial projects from my blog. I connect with architects, builders and designers by following their blogs and through guest posts. Most importantly, it provides another way to find and connect with customers and build their trust in me by sharing my knowledge and listening to their feedback.
Recently, a customer called to place an order. She asked for me by name and said, “I know you. I read your blog.” I established a relationship and trust with the customer even before meeting her.
C.B.: Which are your favorite blog sites, Twitter chats and/or other social media places to hang out and gain insights?
I hang out on Twitter during the business week – it’s my office water cooler for news, tips and ideas. I use Facebook to get the latest from family and friends.
- Blogs, social media & content marketing - Simple Marketing Now [Thanks, Bill!]
- Kitchen, Interior Design - Kitchen & Residential Design
- Residential building, building trends, social media: Building Blox
- Health and Fitness - Fun and Fit
- Twitter Chat - #TileChat
C.B.: What has been your biggest surprise in using social media?
The community is extremely supportive and helpful. The benefits are not always quantifiable; but you’ll notice them.
C.B.: What advice would you offer businesses considering social media?
Don’t be afraid to try it. Be consistent and follow a plan. Engage your audience about topics that interest them and focus on creating dialogue and conversations. Don’t forget to listen and make it fun – its social medial after all!
C.B.: Bill, what great advice! Thanks so much for sharing with us how you have made use of social media for your business!
Here is how to connect with Bill Buyok and Avente Tile - Hand Painted Ceramic & Cement Tiles:
- Visit online at AventeTile.com
- Visit the Avente TileTalk Blog
- Follow Avente Tile on Twitter
- Like Avente Tile of Facebook
Comments, questions for Bill? How might you start applying social media for your small or not-so-small business?