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How to win (Facebook) friends and influence sales

August 19, 2009

Hopefully you liked last week’s deep dive into Social Media, with our “best of” Twitter and Facebook lists,  because we’re just getting started.

Today, there are so many companies that have ignored digital ads in favor of their traditional counterparts, ignoring that the digital ads come with a fraction of the budget they were going to use for direct mail, etc…

Most companie are ignoring opportunities to connect with major online brands like Digg, Reddit and Fark. You could easily target those users and reach people who will never connect with traditional media.

But how? We’re glad you asked. (Note: I’m going to ignore email marketing. It’s been done. We get it. No one’s missing out on email club opportunities).

Drive sales on Twitter: It’s not a new plea, but it’s crazy how few companies embrace this. Most companies use their Twitter for things like interacting with their customers and sending out updates on what’s available. Which is great. Except for when it comes to generating sales. (Click here for our list of companies that use Twitter well.)

Coupons/promotions on Twitter: Take a look at California Pizza Kitchen’s Twitter. I love this feed. They’ve responded to people, they’ve asked for details on a customer complaint. They even have an “Order Online” button on the side. Their feed is so good that I’m adding them to the “best of Twitter” list.

But, they still aren’t driving people to the product. They may be driving repeat business, (I know a tweet thanking me for eating is a nice touch), but they’re not actually creating a purchase decision. But, contrast that with Miami’s Bourbon Steakhouse (home of Celebrity Chef Michael Mina) is giving followers a password that they can say in the restaurant for a free dessert.

Imagine if you ran a campaign saying that you would Tweet a password redeemable for a free dessert at some point in the next two weeks. You don’t think your followers would suddenly skyrocket? And now, your twitter is a much more valuable piece of marketing real estate.

Facebook: I’m still not as sold on corporate facebooks as I am with Twitter. To me, Facebook is a less controllable medium. On your twitter, you can directly market. On your facebook, it’s going to require a much lighter touch.

But, brands with passionate fans do thiss well by encouraging discussions on their pages. For example, Apple. Apple encourages debates on the boards. I would hire someone who’s job is to post topics for discussion. What do you want to see in our next operating system? What do you like about Itunes? A place for people to post their Itune’s playlist. The possibilities are endless.

And, any consumer facing company that doesn’t have many followers should immediately start a campaign to gain more. Every 10th person to add Nike gets a 10% off coupon. Every 10th person to add Taco Bell gets a free Taco. In case you’re missing the theme, online, Free is good.

Corporate managed social networks: Every so often a company tries to start its own social network. For example, there has been rumors for a long time of an apple social network. ESPN tried starting one, then backed off and went with the Sportsnation concept.

These are weak, and don’t generate fans for a brand. They do appeal to the hardcore user, but if that’s a big line-item in the online budget, shift the spending to Twitter…

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