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Progress update

October 20, 2010 1 comment

It’s been a while since I wrote about what I’ve done so far.

I’m having trouble getting hold of enough people to interview. I had hoped to arrange ten interviews from each sector (services, hospitality, retail). That’s not working out very well, at the moment.

I’ll have no problems filling the Services list – in fact, I might end up expanding it a little, to take a few more people from some business types. I have about half my retail interviews organised, though one business I was particularly keen on speaking to hasn’t shown up for two interview dates, and hasn’t replied to emails recently. After a string of cancellations and withdrawals, I only have two hospitality businesses on my list. I really want at least five restaurants, cafés and bars, and need to interview them as soon as possible.

It’s been frustrating. I think that I’m getting valuable information from all the interviews I’ve done so far, and the interviewees have all been very positive about the project. I’m running out of potential leads to follow up on, though, and need to do a lot more interviews before the end of the year.

I’m tracking down businesses through every channel I can, at the moment. The #socialmelb group has been fantastic, as it attracts new people with an interest in social media every week. Contacting twitter-using businesses via Twitter has actually worked well. Contacting the facebookers via Facebook hasn’t worked at all, so far. Email has been reasonably successful, but only in cases where I’ve had some kind of bridging connection: knowing a name, or having someone else refer me. Email via “Contact Us” webforms has been singularly useless. I suspect that either I’m automatically considered a spammer, or that people are too busy to write back.

If anyone reading this happens to run a small business, please let me know! You can find an overview of my project here. In particular, I want to speak with five more retail businesses (online or brick&mortar stores), and up to eight restaurants, bars or cafés. The only requirement is that the business uses some kind of social media (social networking, blogs, forums, twitter, etc), or intends to in the next 12 months.

This week, I’m hoping to sort out bookings, flights and accommodation for OZCHI (Brisbane) and CPRF (Sydney). The two conferences have a fairly different outlook, but have more overlap with what I’m looking at (studying technology users, in an Australian small business context) than most. OZCHI runs at the same time as the first Ashes test match, apparently, so I have to book accommodation by Friday! Let’s hope that the wheels of the bureaucracy are spinning smoothly… otherwise, I’ll have to book it all myself and sort out money later.