Diving headlong into the world of social media is, for a lot of businesses, an intimidating prospect. For one, there’s the question of ‘how’ to accurately measure the results that their business might be yielding through social media. How many prospective leads am I getting? How many new customers is this converting?
But for the most part, it’s because most business don’t have any leads or examples to follow. Social media is simply this cold, befuddling world in which businesses must confront because, for the most part, everybody is already doing it.
And although it can be a relatively unknown place for many businesses, it’s not exactly a road that hasn’t been tread on. For years, businesses have been coming up with inventive and often brilliant ways to spread the word about their business through social media, much of it to great success. The key is that those who have found the greatest success have always been, well, inventive. They have found creative ways to stimulate conversations surrounding their business by doing something different or unique. By reaching out to potential customers in a way that may have been unheard of to others.
With plenty of locations throughout the United States, Morton’s Steakhouse is a large steakhouse chain that serves up delicious thick cuts of beef. Like most larger companies, they have professionally maintained Twitter and Facebook presences that do an excellent job of advertising their brand.
But, one day, a huge opportunity arose. “Hey @Mortons – can you meet me at newark airport with a porterhouse when I land in two hours? K, thanks. ”, tweeted Peter Shankman, a social media consultant. He was hungry, but had limited time to stop off and grab something to eat, so he hoped that someone would be willing to deliver it to him upon his arrival at the airport.
Of course he was joking. He wasn’t actually expecting Morton’s to go out of their way to get him a steak, and certainly not for free.
But Morton’s, being the brilliant social media entrepreneurs that they are, saw through the humor of the tweet. They saw it as a challenge, and immediately began to put the gears in motion in order to ensure that Peter got his steak. Several hours later, awaiting for him at Newark Airport, was a man in a tuxedo with a Morton’s bag awaiting for his arrival. He was shocked. Awed. Thrilled.
The result? Peter tweeted about it, blogged about it. He probably also told all of his friends. And remember, Peter is a social media consultant, so he probably told all of his clients and anyone that he has worked with. Additionally, the event got press from such publications as the Huffington Post. What did it cost Morton’s? A few hours of their time, and a steak and some sides. That’s it. For press that potentially netted them hundreds if not thousands of additional customers.
Airlines often face a unique problem in that their customers are rarely ever in the same place except when they are waiting at the baggage terminal, or awaiting to check-in for their flight. While observing their passengers, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines immediately realized how boring and often tedious waiting for flights was for their customers. So, in an effort to excite and uplift those often bored customers, KLM turned to social media — and specifically Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare — in order to find out what their customers wanted.
In a genius move, they created the social media campaign called KLM Surprise in which they observed the tweets and social media profiles of their customers in order to more accurately determine what their interests were, and actually directly brought them gifts that corresponded with those interests.
The campaign was hugely successful, garnering both surprise and excitement from a lot of their customers. Was it a little creepy or unnerving for some that questioned how they knew what they liked, or what they wanted? Possibly. Still, the amount of press and the huge positive response that it received from customers provided a great opportunity for the company to expand the word-of-mouth that its own customers spread about the company. Customers undoubtedly told their friends and families about the airline’s ‘surprises’, and the additional press they received was certainly worth whatever expenses they spent on the typically small, affordable gifts.
Social Media In The Real World
Although social media may have inherited a label that suggests that it is strictly for communicating with customers and fans of your brand online, that designation is quickly becoming a misnomer. With effective real-world examples of social media being extremely helpful for a large variety of businesses, no longer should companies feel that social media is strictly a digital thing. After all, your objective is to get customers to turn those social media users into customers of your business, so why not target them directly?
Of course, coming up with a real-world idea for your respective business is the most difficult part. So think of all of the ways in which your business can go out of its way to impress or surprise your customers. Think of how you can provide utility for them beyond your normal Facebook page. And most importantly, find out what they want from your business.
But recognize that the limitations that you set for your own social media efforts are just that — your own limitations. Social media has proven time and time again that creativity and ingenuity can easily overcome insignificant boundaries.
Source: MSM DesignZ, Inc. is a Westchester NY Social Media company specializing in advertising, web and graphic design, and SEO.