Inspiring women

One thing I miss most about working for people is working with people. Yesterday’s training session was just a reminder of how much I miss that. It’s sometimes kind of strange to have been in just so many female-orientated places in my life, from school to English departments (often with their token male teacher) and it does seem, especially here, that women are winning the networking wars, should there be a battle of the sexes. With LIFT, with social media, with Dames de FER, it certainly seems that women have got bags of initiative.

I particularly liked one lady’s bemused expression as she reenacted her day at the bandsaw (maybe that is what it was… or a table saw… I’m not well up on my saws to be honest, though I can tell a band saw from a jigsaw) as she was saying ‘I certainly didn’t think I’d be doing this…’ cue bandsaw movements. I think that is true for many ladies who were there yesterday. They just never thought that they would be running a business in rural France. Some of them had not the faintest inkling that they would move into such unusual fields as they have.

We had a very good discussion about why people ‘like’ stuff on Facebook, especially when it comes to businesses. It would seem that we do it for four major reasons.

One is that we intend to use the business in the future and we’re liking them to add to our little black Facebook books. It’s like we’re making a personal directory. We find things we like and we ‘like’ it as a way of keeping a tag on it. It’s like circling it with a highlighter for future reference. Thus, I might like a fosse septique business because I just might want to use them in the future. I don’t want to bookmark their website and a like is a nice way to keep them somewhere I can access later. It’s like a unique Yellow Pages. I wonder if Yellow Pages could get in on the act and allow you to bookmark things? Maybe they already do and I’ve not been paying attention. However, Yellow Pages entries are dullsville. At least Facebook is pretty.

Another reason we like things is post-purchase. We like it because we’re showing our appreciation and thanks for a job well done. I just liked the Café Portebleue and that was as much about the fabulous food we were served as it was anything else. I’m just saying thank you.

Then we also seemed to ‘like’ stuff because we’d been invited to by the person who runs the page, and we didn’t really want to say no. We might not buy anything from them, but every time we interact with them, our friends see. In a world where 6,000 English people live (Charente), that’s not a bad thing. If my friends interact with my page, their friends can see that they have, and they might like my business too. Hiking our likes with strangers might not be effective, but if I can reach friends-of-local-likers, I might find some custom. Heaven only knows, my friends have got me most of my business out here. Between three women, I bet I have at least half my local business through them. Word of mouth is more powerful out here – not less. Sure, that means I need to wear my smiley-happy business face every time I show my face online or in public, but I’m used to that. Being a teacher is like being a mini-celebrity and you run the risk of causing gossip in exactly the same way in rural France.

Finally, we ‘like’ stuff because it in some way reflects who we are, like having a badge or a bumper sticker. We like their values. Ethos is a funny thing in the world of purchasing, and it’s why Pepsi Cola kick themselves every time their sales figures come out in comparison with Coca Cola. Sure, Pepsi wins in taste tests. Logically, we should be a world of Pepsi drinkers. But we are not. Despite Coca Cola’s inferior product, they’ve got us by the proverbials. Something about Coca Cola’s ethos makes me a Diet Coke girl and not a Pepsi Max girl. Ethos is an amazingly powerful tool – it’s why people smoke expensive cigarettes. Bingo fags (the cheap, super king size menthols) might be the logical purchase if I fancy a bit of tar in my lungs and a bit of poison in my bloodstream, but Marlboro are always the brand kings. Ethos.

That’s what Facebook is about. Business pages are about signing up to someone’s ethos and values. It’s about identifying with them. It’s about saying “I’m a JD girl and proud of it”. Long before business pages, they were ‘fan’ pages. That’s kind of what a business page still is, in a way. A fan page. We are constantly looking for ways to define ourselves to the outside world, and that mentality of t-shirt-wearing, badge-sporting, bumper-sticker-showing behaviour allows us to define ourselves. According to my own likes, I seem to have a preference for animal charities, dogs, sad dogs, funny things, environmental stuff, homesteading stuff, local businesses I have been to and would recommend, and then my friends’ businesses. I would say that’s about right.

Anyway, that neatly summarises why people like stuff on Facebook according to 20 women in a café in France. Given the demographics of Facebook, it was pretty much us!

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2 thoughts on “Inspiring women

  1. Hm, 1, 2 and 4 probably apply in my case, though with 3 I’m careful or things will get too cluttered; I try not to just like things to do someone else a favour.
    Mary Portas was saying yesterday that it was mainly the women who are on the drive to regain the high street and that they put a whole lot more verve and energy into the whole thing – says a lot, really…

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