It’s social media’s David and Goliath story. And, it’s all about ROI…
Scenario #1 MegaCo.
An international consumer goods company is looking to explore new ways to market it’s product in a tough economy. They learn about this new social media/Wed 2.0 thing and, even though the people in legal are massively freaked out about employees running around, talking smack and causing potential PR debacles, they give the okay for marketing to “explore” social media.
So, MegaCo goes out to it’s ad agencies and even a few “specialists” to get the 411. And, of course, the big questions they keep circling back to is the very same question nobody who wants to take their money can answer in a remotely convincing way…”what’s the ROI on social media?”
The agency and other consultants come up with all sorts of valid points about building community, opening lines of communication, improving customer feedback and even mining social media for product research. All good stuff, but still, MegaCo is having a tough time biting the social media bullet. So, rather than ramp up something real, they allocate a teensy bit of money to play around because who knows, maybe it’ll work. And, besides, GiantMegaCo is doing it, so they don’t want to be late to the party…if there is a party.
Maybe someday there’ll be an ROI connection, but as of right now everyone’s telling them, “you just can’t measure it like that.”
Scenario #2 – Mountainbike Madness
Mountabike Madness is a local bike shop run by two college friends, Mario and Eva. It’s a real business with a great product and it’s growing nicely. But they’re always interested in finding new ways to get customers to the shop. Along with trying out street teams, the local pennysaver, mailings, sandwich boards and a bunch of other marketing ideas. Eva gets the idea to start to play around with twitter.
Actually, she already has a personal account. So does Mario, so they’re familiar with the nature of conversation in the communities, because they’re already regular users. So, they set up a Mountainbike Madness account and use Mario as the name associated with the account.
They use twitter’s search function and a number of other tools twice a day to find people in their neighborhood who either have some variation of the word bike in their profile or their tweets. They broaden it out to various forms of outdoor activities, too. They see what these potentially likeminded folks talking about, then follow them and join in the conversations they are having.
They also start to share all sorts of funny, quirky, edgy quotes, ideas, and stories. And, here and there, they throw out tweets about instant giveaways for the first person to tweet their favorite rider, grip or trail. They do daily or weekly specials on bikes, parts, clothing and other schwag. They share cool tips and riding strategies and aren’t afraid to show their personalities. They announce weekly Rave Rides where everyone has 4 hours to show at a particular trailhead for an epic group ride. And, once a month, they do a one-day 20% off twitter-only sale from the back of a truck and you have to be following them to know where it will be.
After 3 months, they can track twitter related sales to an average of 30% of daily sales and total sales have gone up 20% since starting on twitter. Not only is it great for the community, for customer service…they’re using social media to put money in the bank.
That all elusive ROI that MegaCo will likely never be able to quantify is trackable income for Mountainbike Madness.
The truth about social media and ROI…
Right now, small businesses have a huge advantage over big business in actually being able to convert social media conversations into dollars and cents. Here’s why:
- Can be less censored – They don’t have to wade through layers of social media do/don’t policy and legal sign-off on every tweet, update, post or comment. And, in social media, people respond to real and spontaneous. So, it’s much easier to build the conversation
- Can have a personality – All too often, the voice of the company that filters through to social media is almost entirely devoid of personality. People connect with color, not gray (unless you live in NYC).
- Only needs to connect with hundreds or a few thousand, not hundreds of thousands or millions – If a small business connects with a few thousand people, that could make a huge dent in it’s business, making it worth the effort. A large business may need to connect with millions to feel the same impact and that may well not be worth the effort from an ROI standpoint
- Can tap into local energy, events, traditions – By having a shared experience based on the local community, it’s a lot easier for people to bond with the voice of that business
- Can implement instantly and tailor highly relevant offers – When it’s one person behind the mic, it’s way easier to carry on a real, spontaneous conversation and also create an ongoing series of highly local, highly-relevant and time-sensitive offers that will convert followers into customers.
So, if you’re a small business or solopreneur Career Renegade and you’ve been wondering about the value of this wacky thing called social media, fact is you’ve got a huge advantage over large corporations right now. You have the ability to actually convert time spent on social media into money in the bank. And, have a lot of fun doing it.
So, what do YOU think?
Anyone have a story like Mountainbike Madness to share?
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