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Let's Give Them Something to Talk About: Creative Use of Social Media

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The Situation: You know that your customers and prospects are talking about your company in various social media channels. But are you being proactive and developing content that will engage them through relevant communications and humor?

The Marketing Opportunity: Engaging customers and prospects effectively will result in increased trust, brand equity, goodwill and revenue. And the good news is that it's easier to do than you may think!

Engaging via social media channels is now not only a basic marketing responsibility; it's also where some of the greatest opportunities lie. Consider this extremely creative April Fools sunglass promotion, which hinged on effective monitoring of Twitter discussions.

The Idea: Fashion accessory e-retailer OneClickVentures.com decided to move beyond the stale "the joke is on us -- look at these low prices" pitches that others use to drive April Fools promotions. It chose to focus on something that would tell consumers more about the personality of its brands.

The firm crafted a suite of playful fake ads for three surreal new products and promotions. An offer of a free tiny dog with each purchase of a handbag big enough to hold it was the focus of one ad; a pair of sunglasses that turned moonlight into privately visible sunlight appeared in another. The third ad, which looked more plausible than it sounds, had images of models showing off a new line of invisible reading glasses.

The Execution: The messages lead to a page that informed the recipients of the subterfuge, thanked them for being good sports about the joke, and invited them to look at some of the (actual) products on sale. The OneClickVentures team carefully checked all the links and tested the email messages on a small group of insiders. The company sent the messages off on the morning of April 1 to a targeted audience of "subscribers who typically receive promotional emails."

This was a carefully planned, multi-tiered monitoring campaign. One tier involved direct engagement with Twitter users employing phrases like "free puppy" or "invisible readers," or just the name of the online store. Twitter's search function made it easy to locate the discussions and jump in. (A typical company remark: "It's all in good fun, though, right?")

The Results: Customers loved the promotion. One tweeted: "Who can be mad at a puppy in a handbag?" And, they purchased products.

Results from the OneClickVentures.com case study:

"Handbag Heaven: April Fools" compared to the average campaign:

  • +42-percent open rate
  • +60-percent click rate
  • +43-percent revenue increase

These numbers speak for themselves -- about the importance of identifying where and how customers are speaking about your brand!

Try this: Conduct regular searches on the terms customers are most likely to use that relate to your company, your brands and your promotions. Then join the conversation. Two great (and free!) places to start are the Twitter search bar and the extremely simple setup page for Google Alerts.