Visage of Social Media

The Visage of Social Media

Social media has grown pervasive in the business world. Today’s social media promotions are getting more creative.

Social media has grown pervasive in the business world.  Today’s social media promotions are getting more creative:


  • In Burger King’s Whopper Sacrifice social media promotion, Burger King asked people if they liked their friends more than a Whopper. The company offered a free Whopper to anyone who de-friended at least 10 of their friends.

  • IKEA posted several pictures of rooms decorated with IKEA furniture and asked people to tag themselves as the furniture they liked with the chance that they could win it.  Photo tagging shows up on your news feed and it spread virally.

As these campaigns illustrate, social media has undoubtedly helped businesses improve their communication to customers through fun interactions.  The genius in social media is its simplification of connectivity, both in people to people and in people to businesses, but at StartupNation we see many businesses miss the forest for the trees.  An obsession with a high quantity of “likes” and pouring thousands of dollars into optimized social media campaigns seems to be distracting from the core purpose of these tools: communication.  Social media should not be used at the exclusions of other, more traditional forms of communication that can often be more effective.

A study by KISSmetrics found that 2.7 percent of average Internet users visited while 12.4 percent of Facebook users who had “liked” Southwest visited the site.  The problem is that this is correlation, not causation.  It seems more likely that people who already knew about Southwest and had a favorable perception of the brand would “like” their Facebook page, rather than a neutral Facebook user seeing a Southwest Facebook post, “liking” the page, and visiting its website.

Today, you are expected to have a website and a social media presence, even if it is very simple.  Although it is often a consumer expectation, social media very rarely crosses over into the “consumer delight” category, or something that goes above and beyond.  Other tools often fulfill this role better.

To illustrate my point, I recently bought a new mattress from Gardner White Furniture in Detroit.  A few days after my purchase, I received a handwritten thank you card in the mail from the sales person who had sold me the mattress.  She referenced a topic we had talked about casually in the store, which personalized the message.  Communication like that is so much more powerful than a “like” and, in the increasingly electronic world we live in this method stood out.  So, here are a few ideas for breaking the mold and delighting your customers:

Pick up the phone

This is the easiest way to make a personal connection.  Call your customers and build a relationship.  And don’t do it from your cellphone either.  If you do not have a business phone or have thought about getting one but haven’t yet, look at getting something like the Syn248 business phone system from AT&T.  It will give your call a professional feel, allow customers to get back in touch with you when they want to do business again, and connect your business back to reality and simplicity.

Send them a letter

The guys over at Wufoo, an online service for building forms, sent handwritten thank you notes to every new user for a very long time to help get their business off the ground.  Remind your customers why they were smart for choosing you.  With a physical letters, they may hang them on their refrigerators and earn you even further eyes and organic marketing when they tell their friends and family about it.

Visit in person

The team at Our Local Box, a service that distributes a monthly box of products from around Kentucky, hand-delivered their first round of products to their first customers. If you have the means to get actual face time with your customers and let them know how much they mean to you, they will appreciate the effort.

Ironically, the business world has been made increasingly impersonal by the advent of intense social media marketing.  Bring the personal element back. Why do we always press “0” incessantly when we call customer service numbers?  We want to talk to a person, a real person.  Give your customers what they want: a personal touch.

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