I stumbled across a link the other day (on none other than Twitter, of course) that led me to a relevant article about a social media success story. It was particularly interesting because it focused more on the customer service aspect of social media marketing rather than blatant ‘hard-sell’ advertising techniques that are used (and fail) all too often.
The article Social Customer Service Allows Startup to Outpace the Competition by Casey Hibbard can be found here.
The story details the business endeavours of a store in the US that sells runners. Not just any old shoe store, the runners are a part of a movement that has come to be known as ‘natural running’.
“Natural” refers to running with minimalistic shoes and a form that’s more in line with the body’s mechanics. Proponents of the running style say it’s a back-to-our-roots approach that reduces injuries and improves performance.
That’s not the only unique selling point of this particular business though. The owner goes to many lengths to ensure a personal relationship with his online customers that rivals an in-store experience. We’re talking personalised videos answering consumer questions, hand-written notes, videos detailing product information and follow-up emails confirming consumer satisfaction. This particular case study could be very useful in our ongoing research as it addresses many of the key questions we outlined in our research brief;
- What kind of social media platforms exist and what do they work best for?
The article discusses the use of personalised videos answering consumer questions. These short 2-3 minute videos are uploaded to MailVu, an email network that turns videos into a direct link. The owner chooses to use this social application due to time constraints, it is much quicker to load the video straight to MailVu than to wait up to 20 minutes for it to be uploaded to YouTube. The company still uses YouTube for their product info videos. This is a strategic decision; time-saving and the company’s YouTube channel doesn’t get clogged with small videos that aren’t relevant to everyone.
- How do small businesses utilise social media in comparison to larger companies and organisations?
Personalised customer care. Small businesses have the time to provide personalised service online, whereas larger companies use many different people to be the face/voice of their brand. With a small business, consumers know they are talking with someone knowledgable about the company and products whereas larger companies with more staff can cause consumers to feel distanced and removed.
- What is the skill set that a media practitioner needs in order to fulfil this position?
Basic social media knowledge. Be able to operate a camera and use simple applications in order to produce video content etc.
- What makes a social media strategy successful and how do organisations measure a campaigns effectiveness?
The shoe company in this example claim a 40% increase in sales after a video was produced that detailed the features of a particular shoe.
“This is a great product, but sales had been pretty flat for a while,” the business-owner says. “However, once this video went out, we had other customers chime in when we posted it and sales went up about 40%. The trajectory continued as new colors were released for the same model.”
The thing about this example that I particularly liked was the fact that the company in question didn’t really have a marketing fund to begin with. The increase in sales was purely a result of a bit of time and effort put into creating a personalised and friendly experience for the consumer rather than money spend on in-your-face outside advertising. Brilliant marketing strategy that doesn’t feel like advertising at all! Excellent!