July 22, 2024

You’re the Boss: Small Businesses That Understand Social Media

Blake Cervenka and his Yeti cake.Blake Cervenka and his Yeti cake.


An insider’s guide to small-business marketing.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post questioning whether all small businesses should invest time and money in social media. The post was a reminder that business owners need to consider the costs and potential returns of social media before taking the leap.

Especially because that post prompted a lively discussion, I’d like to share a couple of examples of small businesses that are doing it right and getting impressive returns on their social media investment — along with a graphic that serves as a nice one-sheet guide to getting the most out of social media tools.

Example No. 1: Melrose Jewelers is a three-year-old, 70-employee, e-commerce retailer based in Los Angeles that sells luxury watches — Cartier, Rolex, Breitling — at an average cost of $4,000. Kyle Mitnick, director of marketing, said that since Melrose introduced its Facebook page, blog and YouTube channel last fall, the company has seen a 71-percent increase in year-over-year sales (and collected more than 100,000 Facebook “likes”).

“Facebook is a great forum for really conveying the trust of our business and helps us level the playing field in reaching younger, aspiring individuals who are technologically savvy,” said Mr. Mitnick. “Older customers, who have purchased luxury watches at stores, are a little bit hesitant to make a purchase that large online. With this group, our social presence — reviews by other Facebook users, posts and interaction with our fans — builds credibility.”

Melrose ran four Facebook campaigns simultaneously over a five-month period — including one in December that the company credits with attracting $100,000 in sales. “We came up with a concept of associating a watch with a person’s identity,” Mr. Mitnick said. “We have over 600 watches on our site. Customers will say, ‘I know I want a Breitling, but I don’t know which one.’” So the company created a quiz that asked a series of questions and — based on the answers — tied the person’s personality to a specific watch. The answers were posted on the quiz taker’s Facebook page. (Apparently I’m a Men’s Stainless Steel Blue Stick Dial Rolex Datejust. Who knew?)

Mr. Mitnick said the costs of the quiz campaign were just $160 to Wildfire Apps to build and run the quiz application for 30 days and about $7,000 in staff time.

Example No. 2: Walk into the offices of Yeti Coolers and you feel as if you are somehow in a family fishing camp located inside a warehouse. On a hot summer day in Austin, Tex., the mostly male employees dress like they’re heading to troll for redfish on the flats. This five-year-old company makes rugged coolers — with premium pricing to match. You can get the feel from a YouTube video that shows a 500-pound wrestler, Big Bald Mike, attempting to destroy a Yeti. He’s unsuccessful with the Yeti — but quickly decimates a competitor’s cooler.

Yeti Coolers was started in 2006 by two brothers, Roy and Ryan Seiders. They owned, respectively, a company that built custom fishing boats and one that built fly-fishing rods, and Roy was looking for a more durable ice chest to outfit his boats. The more he learned the more interested he got; eventually, he decided to stop selling boats and start selling coolers. Working with a manufacturer in the Philippines, they incorporated features like full-length metal rod hinges, rubber molded key latches, and three-inch thick lids. Outdoorsmen responded. Today, the coolers sell through Yeti’s online store and 1,500 dealers nationally, including sporting-goods destinations like Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops. The 37-employee company has experienced 100-percent growth since its inception, and its inventory is moving rapidly through its new 35,000-square-foot complex. Every day, a 53-foot Fedex trailer leaves the warehouse full.

Yeti’s Facebook page, its blog and YouTube videos (more than 50, some with more than 10,000 views) are the watering holes where the tribe shares its enthusiasm. “Most of the time people are using coolers, they are doing something fun,” said Rick Wittenbraker, vice president of marketing. “They stop calling it a cooler and say, ‘Let’s go fill up the Yeti.’”

The Facebook page, with nearly 15,000 “likes,” is full of people sharing their Yeti moments, encouraged by photo contests and giveaways of hats, T-shirts and gear. “We are not in the game of saying, ‘Buy this cooler, on sale now!’ It’s about building our community and upselling. We have guest bloggers and profile our dealers. People on our Facebook page love sharing pictures of themselves in a Yeti hat in a cool place or sharing their fishing and hunting photos. Some of our customers created their own videos featuring their Yeti — one guy swimming with sharks and his Yeti — and uploaded it to their own YouTube channels.”

Mr. Wittenbraker makes a point to respond to every comment and finds it extremely useful as a customer-service forum. He estimates his team collectively spends at least 20 hours per week managing their social media and says the benefits have been immeasurable. Among the hundreds of photographs that members of Yeti Nation have posted online have been several wedding shots of proud grooms (that’s Blake Cervenka in the photo above) sharing their special day with Yeti-inspired wedding cakes, complete with ice cubes, fishtails and lures — the butter-cream frosting version of a real Yeti.

MP Mueller is the founder of Door Number 3, a boutique advertising agency in Austin, Tex. Follow Door Number 3 on Facebook.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=0da88ae564d2c17bfcdebfa8e3dc4229

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