Companies are constantly questioning the ROI of social media, specifically when it comes to Twitter and how to turn 140 character micro-blogs into tangible sales. There are examples of sales conversions every day, but as a company are you recognizing these opportunities and capitalizing on them?
Social media offers you brand exposure and the opportunity to engage in the marketplace which results in sales over the long-term. In the old days of traditional media, the small business owner would not have had the resources to engage in campaigns large enough to start an impactful conversation.
Now, with the barrier to entry removed there is no reason for the small guy not to outshine the deep-pocket company. There is just no excuse for not being a part of the conversation. Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s still better to get involved online. It’s such uncharted territory, no one really knows what they’re doing so you’ll be in good company. The reality is, people are already having conversations about your product or service – the choice you have is whether or not you’re going to be part of the dialogue.
Here’s an example of how social media resulted in a sale for the local retailer winning over the big box store, followed by a recommendation on how to capitalize on it further and make it happen more often.
Yesterday was a big day for me because I bought an iPad. Now, you’re probably thinking, buying an iPad does not make for a ‘big’ day – but I’m a BlackBerry loyalist (to the point that I bought the PlayBook when it was full price) and so this was a new experience for me. As a social media enthusiast, I turned to Twitter before taking the plunge. Despite knowing the iPad model I wanted, I forgot to consider where I would buy it.
As I was pulling into the plaza at Hyde Park and Fanshawe Park roads there were too many choices. Walmart and the Future Shop were right there. If I drove a few more lights up the road, Best Buy, Masonville Mall and other electronics retailers including Rogers and Bell were all easily accessible choices.
“Need recommendation in a hurry: Where’s the best place in #ldnont 2 buy iPad? Point me in the right direction folks.”Responses: @Joy_Birch @AllisonDGraham Some say computer store @westernu – I always go to Mac Store on Wharncliffe or definitely @BestBuy @CarveDesign @AllisonDGraham Mac Outpost @rocky1951 @AllisonDGraham Mac Outpost on Wharncliffe @Sarah_LCC @AllisonDGraham Most likely BestBuy or Future Shop, they always seem to have stock and prices are the same everywhere. @SweetSheil @AllisonDGraham best buy sells them but so does Walmart now if they are in stock @sarsteele30 @AllisonDGraham also got one today from the @MacOupostLon and it is out of the box! So happy! My response: “thx 4 recommendations! @MacOupostLon wins. Called & we’re all set! Yeay, 1st apple purchase.”
The conviction with which Mac Outpost was shared and realizing it was a smaller retailer that had obviously made some of my Mac-Loyalist friends happy, was enough that I hopped in my car and drove away from the big box stores on the north end of the city and drove to central Wharncliffe.
After my purchase was complete I tweeted “ Loved my shopping experience @MacOutpostLon – proud owner of new 4G 64GB iPad!! Can’t wait 2 take out of box. Thx for recommendation.”
Imagine your service or product. If someone asked about it online, would you have a bunch of loyal followers who would recommend you or would you be monitoring the local activity so you could jump in and offer to help?
This was an excellent shopping experience and an excellent example of how social media can lead to sales. There was just a one thing missing: the retailer.
When considering social media strategy, one major element is determining your approach to engagement. Why would you let a conversation about you – positive or negative – happen without you? Once you’ve achieved the goal of creating a positive conversation, how are you responding and becoming a part of it? What is your policy of engagement? It may be unrealistic to expect a retailer to respond immediately – especially in this case when they are focused on real-life customers at that time – but why not respond at the end of the business or first thing the next morning? With mobile technology is so quick to monitor and respond to your mentions it would take less than thirty seconds.
It’s easy to pick on this example because it’s such a positive experience that I’m sure the Mac Outpost folks won’t be offended. I certainly wouldn’t highlight a negative example publicly, but this kind of social media faux pas happens a lot in the twitter space. As you build your strategy please consider this.
Not responding is the equivalent of being at a dinner party and letting the host go on and on about how great you are while you turn your chair around and put your back to the guests so you can ignore them during the entire conversation.
It’s obvious that Mac Outpost has fans. They have 189 followers, however they are only following 1 person (granted one of my faves @carmilevy) but not once did they acknowledged the conversation, despite pushing out tweets since it happened. Had they engaged in the conversation within a timely manner, it just would have been icing on the cake and had that much more brand endorsement power.
The opportunity to recognize their brand ambassadors was missed. By not following their Mac loyalists (even before this conversation) they miss the opportunity to nurture those relationships and encourage more cheer leading on their behalf. Why not take advantage by following their customers, engage in conversations and in the midst of it all, likely convert some more folks who are heading to Best Buy and Future Shop.