PoolDawg’s Blogs: Not Just All Talk

Pool sharks have plenty of places to buy billiards cues and accessories online. But PoolDawg.com discovered it could differentiate itself from the pack with effective use of social media.

Speaking May 5 during a session at ACCM in New Orleans, PoolDawg.com director of marketing Michael Feiman said what started off as a goof—a blog on MySpace authored by its fictional mascot Frank the Bulldog—has turned into a pair of blogs that generate about 40% of its Website’s new visitor traffic.

Why were the blogs such a success? Feiman said they helped create a personality for PoolDawg.com, which sells online and through its print catalog. The blogs “support the PoolDawg brand and gave a face to the company and the Website,” Feiman said.

PoolDawg.com launched its company blog—PoolDawg Billiards Blog—in February 2007, but it took about a year for the company to find a focus. A popular feature of the blog is a section of candid shots of pro billiards players posing with Frank at various tournament locations.

The corporate blog also includes company updates and information, new product features and reviews, informational articles and posts and news from the billiards industry.

The blog on MySpace started in summer 2007 as a way to promote products. But Feiman said almost immediately the blog’s tone became irreverent, and people starting becoming fans of Frank on MySpace.

Then on Aug. 18, 2008, MySpace deleted Frank’s MySpace page and accompanying blog. PoolDawg.com still isn’t even sure why, Feiman said. “But we were probably breaking their rules by giving away a gift certificate a month to one of the MySpace friends.”

PoolDawg.com rebounded quickly: It had hard copy of all its posts, and back-ups of all its images, and was able to launch Frank’s blog anew on a WordPress platform and give it a new home and domain.

“We weren’t sure how much we wanted to invest in blogging when we started off,” Feiman said. “But as it all started to make sense, we decided to invest a little money in.”

The investment wasn’t much, either—basically the cost of domain names and a Flickr photo-hosting account. So what’s Feiman’s advice for merchants that have yet to take advantage of blogging?

“Blogging is a great means to talk to customers in a nonsales format, and it helps customers help themselves,” Feiman said. “The hardest thing about blogging is finding time to blog and finding your voice.” But once you find a voice for your blog, he noted, “it all starts to flow nicely.”

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