Alanna Francis is an SEO Strategist at Blue Fountain Media, the website design and marketing company. Her focus isecommerce websites, including the men’s skin care brandAnthony For Men. You can follow her on Twitter@alannafrancis.
Once upon a time, you had to use a phone book to find a business’s contact details. Mercifully, those days are behind us. As social media has worked its way into every aspect of our lives, we as a culture have come to expect that our favorite brands — from “Big Gay Ice Cream” trucks to national airlines and fashion houses — are easily accessible on the most popular social networks.
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However, it’s no longer enough to simply interact. Consumers are increasingly hungry for promotions, exclusive discounts and giveaways. In fact, recent data suggests that most people who follow brands on Facebook and Twitter both expect and want to receive coupons from these brands.
According to an Ad Age/Ipsos Observer survey of 1,000 participants regarding digital consumption habits, 65% of consumers want the brands they follow to offer coupons. Compare this figure to the percentage of respondents who said they wanted enhanced customer service (42%) and you begin to get a clearer picture of the landscape.
Certainly the Ad Age numbers indicate that the demand for promotions exists, but how effective are Twitter andFacebook promotions in practice? Do they really increase engagement or sales? While no conclusive studies have been done on this exact topic, substantial anecdotal evidence suggests that they do.
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Examples to Learn From
Targeting healthy eating-related keywords on Facebook’s ad platform, Healthy Choice created a promotion that exploited the viral nature of social sharing. The frozen food brand offered a coupon that increased in value as more people “Liked” its page and signed up to receive the deal.
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As a result of the promotional campaign, Healthy Choice saw their connections explode from 6,800 to approximately 60,000 at the time of the study. A quick check of their fan page shows that they have gained over 8,000 additional connections since that time. Healthy Choice witnessed 3 times more user engagement after the promotion than prior, and by offering a newsletter capture on the coupon signup form, they were able to register approximately 60% of connections for their mailing list. Pretty impressive for a product as mundane as frozen dinners.
What remains to be seen is the staying power of Healthy Choice’s newfound audience. It seems likely that engagement will taper at least slightly now that the campaign is over, as users who connected solely to receive coupons start to tune out. It will be up to Healthy Choice to continue interacting with their broadened fan base in new and creative ways.
Renowned designer Diane Von Furstenberg has also been famously successful in social media. With over 100,000 Facebook fans and 182,000 Twitter followers, the brand certainly has a solid audience to draw on. At this very moment, DVF is offering free shipping and an unspecified gift (a pony?!) to users who refer a friend to the brand’s page. What makes this campaign smart is that, similar to Healthy Choice, it offers rewards for spreading awareness of the brand to others.
In 2010, Diane Von Furstenberg reported a 13% gain in web traffic after having been active in social media.
All these numbers are exciting, but the key to seeing a positive return on your efforts is to execute your promotion in such a way as to encourage maximum engagement. Here’s how to dive in.
Define Your Goals
“Defining goals” sounds almost too obvious to be worth mentioning, you’d be surprised at how often businesses fail to pinpoint goals for their social media efforts. The allure of Twitter and Facebook promotions is strong. It’s tempting to look around at the competitive landscape and imitate the actions of others without fully understanding what’s at stake. By defining exactly what you hope to gain from your promotion, you can better design the promotion itself to achieve these goals.
Do you want to gain followers or “Likes?” Design your promotion to provide incentives for doing so. Reward your 1,000th follower with a lavish gift bag, free consultation, or complimentary meal. Encourage retweets and shares to further spread the word.
Do you want to drive sales on your ecommerce site? Offer small, one-time discounts or free shipping offers to anyone who follows or “Likes” your brand and shares your campaign.
Do you want to garner more newsletter subscribers? Give users the chance to sign up to your mailing list when you give them their coupon or promo code.
Exploit the Medium
Facebook and Twitter both have enormous potential to spread promotions at viral rates. It’s up to you to craft your campaign to take full advantage of this fact. Learn from the strategies of Healthy Choice and DVF, who incentivized sharing with rewards, thus expanding their campaigns’ reach exponentially.
Once you’ve defined your goals, you must also set metrics for measuring your achievements. Make sure you have a solid grasp on all your “before” figures before the campaign launches and be sure you know how to isolate social media traffic from your data.
Evaluate and Adjust
Finally, as our grade school teachers always told us, learn from your mistakes. If your first attempt was more of a belly flop than an olympic dive, don’t develop a fear of the water. Just be sure to assess the strengths and weakness of your first campaign before suiting up again.
In the end, unless you are cranking out extremely high quality content at a breakneck pace or are a naturally dazzling public face of the brand (and let’s face it, we can’t all be Tony Hsieh), your brand might not be able to engage people the way you really want to. Social media promotions are a great way to obtain a larger audience base on which to build your brand and maybe pocket some extra cash while you’re at it.
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