Saturday, February 7, 2009

5 brands that “get” social media

As we battle a global recession, corporations are looking for new ways to sell their products and engage their consumers. Many have turned to the Internet, with Social Media in particular, to market their goods. Let’s take a look at 5 companies that have done a phenomenal job of taking advantage of social media platforms.

#1) Blendtec Blends it on YouTube.

Who doesn’t know about the “Will It Blend” series on YouTube? Created by George Write, the marketing director of Blendtec, the campaign was low cost and instantly became a hit. In the video, Tom Dickson the CEO of Blendtec, attempts to blend objects in their blender. This simple idea led to a “five-fold increase in sales”.

Blendtec leveraged YouTube’s subscriber base and tried something fun and original. The campaign was a success and continues to entertain and sell.

Lesson: Social media marketing doesn’t always need to cost a lot of money. Creating funny, original video and leveraging an already large user base can be used to increase sales.

#2) Burger King and the Sacrifice Facebook Application

Recently, Burger King has really been pushing the envelope with their marketing. They first started with whoppervirgins.com, then entered the social space with the “sacrifice ten friends” facebook application. The campaign quickly went viral and was adopted by over 20,000 users, sacrificing 200,000 friends for free whoppers.

Sadly, the application was shut down as quickly as it started by Facebook, citing privacy concerns. Regardless, the application was beautifully built and the idea was perfect. Burger King built in the ability to share it, the incentive to use it, and added just enough humor to make the campaign a hit.

Lesson: Successful and viral campaigns don’t just test out social media, they jump in it. Pushing the envelope can create the buzz that makes your campaign memorable.

#3) Starbucks Asks for Your Advice

Social media isn’t only about using existing websites, but sometimes creating your own. To get a better handle on consumer feedback, Starbucks did just that with “My Starbucks Idea.”

The site allows users to submit suggestions to be voted on by Starbucks consumers, and the most popular suggestions are highlighted and reviewed. Starbucks then took it a step further and added an “Ideas in Action” blog that gives updates to users on the status of changes suggested.

By empowering their exceptionally web savvy consumer, Starbucks strengthens their campaign to add a personal touch to coffee.

Lesson: Thinking of ways to build your company are great, but directly asking your consumers what they want, is better. Acting on that information and doing it publicly is key to the success of this campaign.

Starbucks has also embraced Twitter, you can see their stream at @Starbucks.

#4) Sun Microsystem and the CEO Blog

Want your blog to really make a splash? You could learn a lot from Sun Microsystem’s CEO blog. Jonathan Schwartz’s blog received about 400,000 hits a month (in 2006).

It’s not the number of hits that make his blog a social media success, but the openness on it. Positive and negative comments are allowed, and even the most inane are approved. Transparency from the highest position in a company trickles down and increases trust from consumers.

Lesson: Social media is a culture of transparency and honesty that must be embraced, leading by example is one of the best ways to introduce it to a company. Few things are better than a CEO that blogs or uses twitter.

Sun Microsystems also has a network of blogs, friends on Facebook, friends on Twitter, and their own Twitter account as well.

#5) IBM with Lots of Blogs

When IBM decided they wanted to start using blogs, they didn’t just create one blog, they created an entire network. IBM created a way and allowed their employees to write about their experiences, what they’re working on, or any other topic of choice.

IBM capitalizes on the intelligence of their employees to give consumers insight into what happens behind the scenes. By giving the industry experts they’ve hired a voice, IBM is able to highlight the people behind their products. Users get to see how IBM operates, and are given a direct connection with IBM employees.

Lesson: Having a CEO that blogs is great, but increase the number of blogs and you increase the number of connections. Leveraging your employees to write about what they love conveys the corporate dedication to the industry.

You can also find IBM on Twitter giving updates on events from their calendar.

HT: Mashable

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