erinism: #socialmedia and other explorations

Six Pieces of the Social Media Puzzle

I know—I’m a liar. I got a little caught up in the holidays. I got a little busy with work. And I got engaged!

But that’s no excuse. And baby I’m back!

With 2009’s closing came all the lists—top ten social media campaigns, top ten reasons to use social media, top ten reasons social media is signaling the end of the world.

I’d like to take a look at the good things happening in social media on a daily basis. On the myriad of job interviews I had, I was always asked for an example of a company that was doing social media right. As simple as it seems, I had a hard time answering the question. While some companies are clearly clueless about social media (or just plain scared of it), others have at least a piece or two of the puzzle in place. Very few have flawless, complete campaigns.

There are many parts to a comprehensive, ROI-skeptic-beating social media strategy. I’m not here to discuss that. However, I would like to highlight six different characteristics of successful social media campaigns—and examples of companies doing them right. (Please note that no two social media strategies are the same, and the goals and therefore components should mirror that.)


At its core, social media is all about interaction. Your Twitter account shouldn’t just be an automatic, robot-resembling feed through which you schedule marketing messages. What value does that provide to your followers? 1-800-FLOWERS does something unconventional on a daily basis. They search for Twitter users who have a birthday on that given day, and randomly select one lucky winner to receive a free bouquet of birthday flowers. It’s fun, it’s interactive, and who doesn’t love a good bouquet of flowers?

Encourage Customer Loyalty

At the end of the day, social media is a part of your business that should help drive sales. One of the easiest, most archetypal ways to encourage sales is through customer loyalty programs. Tasti D-lite is introducing customer loyalty programs 2.0 via Foursquare and Twitter. Mashable explains it much better than I ever could. Basically, though, with each check-in on Foursquare or mention on Twitter, consumers rack up points, which can mean free frozen yogurt. And that, my friends, is delightful.

Leverage Content and Cross-Promote

You’ve signed up for Twitter and Facebook—but now what? What happens to all that “old” content you aggregated for your “old school” website? Use it, silly! Any videos, documents, etc. that live on your website should be promoted via social media (although, please, not in a sales-y way). It’s a great way to drive traffic to your site, all without getting on your knees and begging for it. You should also be cross-promoting all social media presences on the other platforms. (For example, promote YouTube and Facebook on Twitter, Twitter and YouTube on Facebook, etc. Got it? Good.) Southwest Airlines does a great job of this via their all-encompassing blog—who could forget their legendary YouTube video? That’s right, it was cross-promoted on all platforms.

Utilize Organic WOM

So many marketers struggle with this question: is a view a view, no matter where it lives? If something goes viral on platforms or accounts unrelated to the official company account(s), should it still be considered a success? It still gets the word out there in one of the most effective ways possible: organic and viral word of mouth (and no, that is not the latest and scariest STD to hit New York City). It doesn’t force the issue and it’s not sales-y (because it doesn’t come from your sales and marketing team). It may even make fun of your product (I think that’s how Snuggies have made so much money…). Don’t be afraid. And don’t run and hide when something out of your control goes viral. Conan O’Brien certainly didn’t create the photo of him that has been spreading like wildfire via Twitpic and Facebook profile photos. That, combined with his personal statement, has positioned NBC as the bad guys. It seems everyone is Team Coco.

Change Negative Perceptions

So many companies are terrified to get into the conversation, but they’re only hurting themselves. Social media isn’t about control—you cannot control what customers say about you or your products. You can, however, respond to their complaints, and—here’s the crazy part—actually help them! Doing it publicly through a public channel like Twitter spreads the word further than a simple one-on-one conversation could. Comcast, as it has been highly documented, has done a great job of this.

Show Exclusives / Behind the Scenes

Showing exclusives or giving a behind the scenes look at a company (or movie, or concert, or runway show, or…) gives users an incentive to follow or fan you. Ann Taylor, as a brand, has quickly reinvented itself from something a little more blasé, into something more modern and professional, yet appropriate for office-to-cocktails days that is the lifestyle for so many young professionals. Part of that is the new company president and new lead designer—and part of it is its social media program. I love the updates they provide on Facebook showing their own staff members in their own Ann Taylor digs. Not only are their employees great spokespeople for the brand, but it gives fans ideas on how to fit different styles into their very own wardrobes.

Credit: Ann Taylor Official Facebook Page

What are your favorite examples of social media done right?