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Why Dell Beats the Hell Out of Threadless

I apologize for the outlandish headline, but I don’t really think it’s any more outlandish than crowning Threadless as the sales guru of Twitter.  I’m sure you’ve read some recent press in the media bragging about Threadless being the company to emulate when it comes to monetizing on Twitter. (Read one article from Inc here) I simply can’t disagree more.  I have nothing against Threadless and admire the company for many reasons.  For example, they are the King of crowd sourcing- why not give them a crown for that?  But monetizing Twitter? No. They made money on Twitter by creating an entire product line exclusively FOR Twitter, not by utilizing it as a sales vehicle for promoting their own existing product.  Of course the product sold well, it was made specifically for Twitter!

So how do you monetize social media without creating a product line specifically for it?  Dell figured it out.  They are a great example of a company who actually engaged on Twitter and sold millions of dollars worth of computers as a direct result of those efforts.  (Dell article from Entrepreneur here)  I think their success was two-fold and actually quite basic.  First, they correctly targeted their customer and simply provided them with useful information.  Next, they implemented systems to monitor, measure, and manage customer service interactions.
(Great tips for handling customer service here.) These are great starting points and should serve as the foundation for any small business looking to incorporate social media in their marketing efforts.

While those are great steps for getting started in social media, it’s important that companies don’t stop there.  The real key to your success lies in your ability to actively engage that target demographic.  I urge you to roll up your sleeves a little and try some new strategies this year to finally get some ROI from social media.  To get you started, I’ve brainstormed a couple ideas below.

  • Include a playful and creative flyer in outgoing packages encouraging participation and possibly offering a reward… “Be a sweetie! (attach some candy to the card) Post a pic of you wearing this t-shirt on our Fan Page and we’ll send you a $5 gift card.”
  • Create a survey on Facebook or poll on Twitter (twtpoll) asking “friends” to vote on which new products to sell/create…the winning product will be offered to survey participants first, and at a discount. (See how Modcloth does this here)
  • Track down recent customers on Facebook and “friend” them with your companies Facebook page (who doesn’t want more “friends”?)
  • Spend money to make money…hire a Community Manager that will actually have the time to effectively target and engage new customers and strengthen your online branding. (Not sure what a Community Manager does? Read this by Chris Brogan.)
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I truly believe social media is the future for small business marketing and I hope you can find at least one of these ideas helpful in your efforts to engage online.  Always be on the lookout for innovative new ideas to reach your customers and don’t be shy.  A sincere, heartfelt, and playful “hello” to your customers will be appreciated more times than not.  Just make sure you have the infrastructure in place to monitor, measure, and manage all those new customer interactions.

Need help with your social media campaign? Contact me directly here!

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About the Author: Heather Schuck

Heather Schuck is a passionate entrepreneur who lives up to her "Lil' Firecracker" nickname. While she may joke about her "fun sized" 5'1″ petite frame or her nationally celebrated 4th of July birthday, she's serious about bootstrapping, inspiring mom entrepreneurs, [...]

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