ROI with Social Media

Recently, a friend expressed interest in ‘going social’ for his new HR technology product and asked if I’d help chalk out a plan by first showing him any products that had attracted an unprecedented fan-following in the last couple of years. That set me off on an intense exercise to scour the Net and extricate success stories, and later to draw my lessons for the product in question.

At the end of a couple of days of fierce reading and mulling, I presented him the fruit of my labour in the form of some b2b and b2c product success stories where companies had proved that by engaging with their customers through their websites, focussed discussion forums and social networking channels, they’d succeeded in allaying fears for new technology or using a new idea. I’ve listed out those case study links at the end to help those wading through Netoceanic waters for similar pearls. My takeaways from these case studies are specific to the HR technology product so I’m not including those.

However, these cases are global and not India-specific.

I know that a lot of us would like to figure how a social media initiative by a company or an individual in India managed to broaden its customer base or in the very least connected with its audience. While I’m looking out for such successful programs, I’ve got a small but significant personal experience to share.

Less than two months ago, I’d goaded a friend in Goa into opening a Facebook group to broadcast his store’s product range. I gave him some ideas on getting members for the group and shared with him an article from Mashable on how 5 small businesses had seen success through social media. He was excited at the prospect of making sales without making a huge investment into advertising but so nervous was he about entering untreaded tech territories that I’d to find him this short article on opening a Facebook group. He didn’t just open a group, but he took a cue from the Mashable read and some days later, put up pictures of some colourful but expensive leather boots as new entrants in his product range. A new ‘Facebook friend’ of his from Gurgaon, who’d joined his group through a t-shirt designer’s group they shared, messaged him to enquire about the available sizes and their prices. He responded with details through Facebook and asked her if she’d like any pair couriered but didn’t get a response. What he did get some days later was a visit to his store from an acquaintance of her’s with hand-drawn foot sizes to buy all 3 shoes displayed on his Facebook group!

For some time, the friend could hardly believe what he’d witnessed – a buyer for expensive merchandise in the still non-peak sale period of Goa and that too in the form of an Indian and not a dollar-rich foreigner! His faith in all things technological has elevated since then and he’s all for rustling up resources for a well-designed and populated product gallery on his website, and of course for having a direct hand in promoting it through his new found social networking methods πŸ™‚

They’re right in saying that social media is for anyone with a clear set of objectives and a plan to follow. And, it sure helps that it’s an enjoyable way to further a cause.

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Case Studies

Agilent Technologies
http://signal-integrity.tm.agilent.com/
http://www.webinknow.com/2009/08/colin-warwick-shows-how-a-b2b-company-makes-the-first-page-on-google.html

Eloqua
http://illuminate.eloqua.com/
http://blogs.forrester.com/groundswell/2009/10/winners-of-the-2009-forrester-groundswell-awards.html

MetricStream
http://www.groundswelldiscussion.com/groundswell/awards2009/detail.php?id=124
http://complianceonline.com/cms/cms/Offline/index.html?category_id=20013&ind=/Offline/Industry/HR_Compliance/

SAP

Click to access ENGAGEMENTdb_Report_2009.pdf

Zappos
http://mashable.com/2009/04/26/zappos/
http://www.zappos.com/

Ford Motor
http://mashable.com/2009/05/18/ford-social-media/

Apple
http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/next/archives/2009/07/jonathan_ive_th.html

Dell
http://smartblogs.com/socialmedia/2009/10/02/how-dell-took-social-media-mainstream/

Click to access ENGAGEMENTdb_Report_2009.pdf

6 thoughts on “ROI with Social Media

  1. If done right (and, I know there’s this big “if” right there) with the expected results in mind, marketing can work using social networks. Social networks, I think, have an implicit circle of trust built in which builds upon itself and goads the participants to not keep sitting on the periphery. There are acceptable forms of commercial participation and, the anecdote you mention is more relevant because it was not a foreigner who did the transaction. In most cases, the USP, when setting up such “fronts” is that it would bring in an exclusive client-set. Most often that is not so. In fact, it is interesting how often it is not so.

    As always, thanks for writing this and, sharing.

    Like

    1. Sankarshan, I like what you say about SN investors playing a hands-on role instead of sitting on the periphery. My concern is that many of us are beginning to trivialise SM because of the hype and jargon it’s being given by its proponents. I just want to offer that if on one hand it’s being blown into something niche or specialised, on the other it’s simply there for anyone to use. For both kinds of users, it’s a great tool and worth cohesive planning.
      Thanks for leaving your feedback this time – it helps πŸ™‚

      Like

  2. Thank you Jyoti for citing my experience. As a matter of fact, i had not 1 but 3 responses in total. apart from the one mentioned by you, there were 2 more people, both Indians and from Bombay who saw these product pictures and inquire about the same.
    Unfortunately i was not able to turn these into “sales” as in one case i did not have the shoes in a particular colour of interest and in the second case the cost of couriering the product would not justify the end.
    For a minor net-tailer (as compared to the retailer), this latter part seems to be a daunting hurdle that i envisage in doing e-commerce over the net. And I do look forward to a day when courier companies may levy a special carriage/delivery rate, even to small/minor netailers like me; or some other such solution to encourage trade over the net.
    Of course experiencing these 3 responses in such a short period of time has given a boost to my plans of trying to get ferreiragoa.com on line as a fully functional shopping cart enabled e-commerce site as fast as possible and i do hope that i shall learn and be able to keep up with the times by way of networking and interconnecting the site via social networking.
    Once again, Thank you Jyoti – for showing the way.
    Cheers

    Like

    1. Thanks, Tushar for sharing this experience and for opening yourself to various experiments. You’re a true learner and will undoubtedly have more such positive experiences to recount as we go along πŸ™‚

      Like

  3. Thanks Jyoti for highlighting the Eloqua case study. It has indeed been a good campaign for us. If you’re interested in the results, you can see some interesting analysis on it in this post:

    http://digitalbodylanguage.blogspot.com/2009/11/longevity-of-fun-in-b2b-social-media.html

    Essentially, the advantage that “fun” social media campaigns have is that they last significantly longer than product campaigns. It is still generating as good of a response one year in as it was on day one.

    Like

  4. Steven…agree with your suggestion in your post on consideration to the fun aspect of a message for it to connect with, and be remembered by, its audience. The length of a message remains important too as The Conversation got too long for many to complete the Q&A.

    Will stay connected with your blog.

    Like

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