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February 4, 2015

Cindy Penchina, President

Creative Uses of Social Media by SMBs

Social media isn’t optional anymore, and it hasn’t been for a long time. More and more businesses, large and small, are starting to recognize this...

...but that doesn’t mean everybody is doing social media well, and that’s frustrating for everybody, from the marketers who know they need to be using this powerful tool but aren’t sure how to the users who cringe at well-meaning but clumsy execution.

It’s clumsy because many companies can’t answer the crucial question: what is social media marketing for? 

Social media marketing is about more than getting likes and retweets; it’s about building a meaningful relationship between a brand and its customers, and it can be done even by businesses that aren’t yet ready to hire a social media or inbound marketing agency. Here’s a few examples of small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) who have successfully found unique, creative ways to built brand identity and user engagement.

Burger Revolution

This Ontario-based burger restaurant has one of our favorite social media strategies of all time: every day, they keep their followers on Facebook and Twitter informed of how many burgers they have left. The upshot is that if you want a Burger Revolution burger, there’s a pretty hard time limit. By forcing a sense of urgency, they gave their burgers an atmosphere of being scarce. Further, this drew attention to the name of the business as well, emphasizing the idea that this was an entirely new way to eat a burger. All in all, this small city burger joint gained over three-thousand quality new Facebook likes from real customers.

Blendtec

Perhaps the most effectively off-kilter viral marketing strategy in the history of the Internet, Blendtec managed to turn its biggest social media liability – its profile as a company that makes blenders, a product category which does not immediately scream “online user engagement” – into its biggest asset, with a simple plan: to film their founder, Tom Dickson, sticking non-food items into blenders to see what happens. The result? A YouTube channel with millions upon millions of views through a viral campaign which has sustained itself for nearly a decade and which continues to generate publicity, mindshare, and conversions. For most Millennials, Blendtec is very likely the only blender manufacturer they are actively aware of. That is a powerful asset.

Morton’s Steakhouse

Pay attention to your Twitter feed! You never know what customer engagement opportunities you may discover, be they the chance to correct a bad first impression or to generate some goodwill by hand-delivering a steak to an airport. That’s what Morton’s Steakhouse did in response to a single tweet. When Twitter user @petershankman jokingly asked if Morton’s could have a steak waiting for him when his plane arrived at the airport, he did not expect his wish to be granted. But there it was, alongside a side of shrimp and potatoes. This earned Morton’s a ton of exposure and goodwill, and very likely the increased loyalty of a valued customer. Social media stunts like this demonstrate a company’s commitment both to its customers and to providing extraordinary service, and done well, can only increase your mindshare and social media profile – and by extension, your social media reach.

McKay Flooring 

Sure, Morton’s can show up at an airport with a fully-cooked steak dinner, but maybe your business isn’t a steakhouse. There are a ton of businesses out there doing important, necessary work selling things like kitchen appliances, water heaters, and aluminum siding who aren’t clear how to engage their customers on social media effectively. But it turns out that with a little creativity and social media hacking, any company can find valuable connections being made between the brand and the customer, and those are the connections that endure.

McKay Flooring is a great example of this. They took a good hard look at their products – quality, beautiful flooring – and realized that there were two major social media platforms that were image-focused: Pinterest and Instagram. They’ve turned both into virtual catalogs, right at everyone’s mobile fingertips, on platforms where images take priority – images of luxurious hardwood flooring that sells itself. Pinterest has been especially helpful, as the images they share on their page flitter through the network as people save them to their own boards. Since Pinterest has become a hub of DIY enthusiasts, it’s filled to the brim with exactly the people McKay wants to be selling to.

Wrapping Up

Social media is as fundamental to how we live today as the telephone was to the twentieth century; businesses have to be working to use it to its fullest potential. Consumers now, and going forward, want to do business with companies they feel they have a meaningful relationship with, and not some faceless brand. Social media offers you the opportunity to connect with your customers, to establish strong mindshare and loyalty, and all with the touch of a button.

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