Do you know Dave...former felon and self-proclaimed "four time loser" gone successful breadmaker? Brush up on his story if you're not familiar with it — it's a goodie.

Dave makes great bread here in the Pacific Northwest. He's built a strong brand and has a lot of loyal breadlovin' fans. So what happened when the Killer Breadman went social online? Let's find out....

Q. Why did you decide to take the plunge into social media?

A. Even before I finished designing my first Killer Bread varieties, I began to see how much more effective I am when I get lots of feedback from customers, potential customers — even haters. I am very open with my marketing which, to me, means interacting with lots of people who can teach me things as well as re-affirm that what I’m doing is good. They are my support group, and they make me stronger. Social media does not take the place of the wonderful one-on-one that I get from farmers’ markets and events, but it’s much more efficient.

Q. Were your business partners and staff on board with your enthusiasm? If not, what did you need to do to convince them?

A. I’m not sure if they were all that excited about it, at first. Since we were already successful when I started doing Facebook and Twitter, we are always a tad apprehensive that anything unproven might be a distraction, diluting other efforts. But everyone understands that I have a personal connection to the community and how important that is. Of course, the proof is in the pudding.

Q. What fears did you have about making an online effort?

A. That perhaps I needed to stop being so “out there” as we grow into a medium-sized company. That I wouldn’t really have that much to say, or time to say it.  That we were already doing a good job, and why take a risk by putting yourself out there even more.

Q. What's been your favorite and or most useful social media tool so far and why?

A. For me, it’s my Facebook Page. I can put a lot of information on there, like nutrition updatesevents, letting people know when and where the great DKB deals are, and promoting my charity work. One of my favorite things is feedback I get on proven and unproven products, new logost-shirt designs, etc. Also, when I update my Facebook page, it updates my Twitter status automatically, leaving a link to Facebook for more info.

Q. What have been the benefits of your online efforts thus far?

A. Great feedback that will influence product development and improvement, a growing online community of DKB fans — getting the word out.

Q. How has social media opened doors that wouldn't have otherwise been there for the company?

A. It has provided a way for me to keep in touch with the people who eat bread. It’s getting harder and harder to find time to do that — social media makes it a lot easier.

Q. Social media seemed like a great extension of the strong brand that you already built. Did participation come natural?

A. Yes — I don’t force it. I don’t preach, or try to be something I’m not. It’s part of my growth, and that of my business. It is just a tool that makes me a better marketer.

Q. I heard you switched from Blackberry to iPhone and hated it. What happened?

A. I love the Blackberry’s keyboard. Since I’m on the road a lot and I write lots of emails on the fly, I want a keyboard that’s easy to use. If I was used to an iPhone, I’d probably feel that way about a Blackberry. I do miss the iPhone’s cool screen, though.

Q. One of the biggest concerns for businesses who decide to utilize social media as a form of communication and audience building is time. How have you managed to work it into your already business schedule?

A. Well, I haven’t taken a vacation since I got out of prison (5 years). Does that tell you anything? Basically, every waking moment is a potential “Tweet” moment. The cool thing is that the time you spend with it is time well-invested.

Q. What's your favorite social media story for DKB so far?

A. One DKB lover comes from Folsom, California to buy a couple of dozen loaves of bread at a time at Winco. He always Tweets about this when he does it. The OSU basketball team is a big fan of my bread. Many actors and other celebrities have written about my bread online. But my favorite story is about a lady who wrote an unfavorable review of my bread on MySpace, without even trying it! She called my story a “gimmick” and said that my bread was too expensive. She wouldn’t even try it. It was opportunity knocking. I was tipped off, and joined the comment thread. It was fun. I got a chance to gently refute all her claims, while telling her that I truly valued her opinion. I’m told I picked up several new customers that day. I don’t think she was one of them, though, and has since privatized her profile.

Q. Has your participation in social media caused your marketing plan to change at all? Are you spending less money and time on other forms of outreach that you've now replaced with social media? If so, are you glad you did?

A. For me, it’s mainly just an extension of what I was already doing — just another way of getting the word out and connecting with people. It has saved time in places, and definitely been cost-effective for what we get out of it. However, I would emphasize that the more time you can give it, researching and strategizing, the more you can get from it. Spending time checking out what other people are doing can also be inspiring. I’m just a baby in this game, and there are a lot of better players.

Q. Overall, how do you think social media has changed your business as a whole?

A. For me, it has allowed me to keep the amazing connection I’ve always had with customers, and on a bigger scale, even though I have less and less time to actually meet and speak with them face to face. It’s a big deal.

Q. Have you seen a direct connection between your social media participation and sales?

A. It is hard to gauge any direct relationship. Twitter and Facebook have been an extremely effective tool for getting the word out about new products, Costco expansion, Winco, and special deals at Fred MeyerNew Seasons MarketCentral Markets, etc. During the few months that we’ve been doing Twitter and Facebook our sales have grown perhaps 30%. Social media lets us inform people in real time. There is no doubt it works, and our new packages tell people to follow us on our social media sites to stay on top of all of these happenings. Informed customers buy more bread.

Q. Anything you'd like to add?

A. If you are passionate about what you do and value that connection with people, Facebook and Twitter are a no-brainer. I can’t imagine being without them today.

Thanks Dave! Keep rockin' the Killer Bread, and social media.