Blenz boss dials in to social media

George Moen joked it was the first time he had ever been “picked up” on Twitter.

George Moen

George Moen

George Moen joked it was the first time he had ever been “picked up” on Twitter.

It was also the primary reason he found himself speaking in front of a crowded room inside the Village Green Hotel for a Thursday-morning breakfast seminar hosted by the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce.

Moen, the CEO of Blenz, The Canadian Coffee Company, was referring to chamber manager Val Trevis, who struck up a virtual relationship with him via Twitter, one of many social media platforms that are steadily increasing in cyberspace popularity.

The two exchanged no phone calls, e-mails, texts, faxes or carrier pigeon messages prior to Thursday. It all happened on Twitter, which in itself is a testament to the program’s networking capability.

After “following” Moen on Twitter, Trevis eventually sent him a “tweet” asking if he would be interested in speaking to chamber members about the potential of social media as a business tool. As one of the most followed (and informed) CEOs on the North American social media scene – he has more than 23,000 followers – Moen, who has a couple of Blenz franchises in Vernon, happily agreed.

“Everyone thinks social media is for kids. It really hasn’t caught on as a business tool yet,” said Moen, who was raised in the Kootenays and now lives in the Lower Mainland.

Moen noted that if big brand companies like Nike are starting to allocate marketing budgets towards social media, chances are there is something worth exploring.

“Social media is here to stay.”

With an estimated 190 million users worldwide generating about 65 million tweets a day, it is difficult to argue his point.

“You can now compete with the world. Everyone has that advantage and that’s why it’s so damn important,” he said. “It is by far the least expensive and highest rate of return on your marketing.

“You have a budget, and it is called time.”

Twitter, like Facebook and other social platforms, offer networking and microblogging services, enabling users to send and read short messages called tweets. These text-based posts can be up to 140 characters and are displayed on the user’s profile page.

One thing Moen has come to realize is consumers are more likely to follow a person than they are a company. As such, he presents himself on Twitter as George Moen (@georgemoen), a guy who happens to be the CEO of a major coffee company. His business card is dead simple – plain white card stock with “georgemoen.tel” written in large font across the front. He gets 10,000 printed at a time and then hands them out like candy at the Winter Carnival parade.

He doesn’t attempt to “sell” Blenz to people who follow him on Twitter. Sure, he will announce contests and other Blenz promotions, but Moen also makes himself available as a resource other people can learn from. He has even been known to go into a Blenz franchise where he knows one of his followers is “tweeting” (Blenz offers wireless Internet) to thank them personally for his or her patronage.

“Don’t try to sell something out of the gate. People don’t want to be sold to,” he warned.

“You buy something from people you like and trust. When you create that trusted relationship, people become less skeptical.”