Some sales organizations are skeptical of social networking’s ability to increase revenue. But these six no-cost business models prove it’s a resource every salesforce can capitalize on:
- Best Buy’s Twelpforce: In July of 2009, Best Buy introduced Twelpforce – an entire team of customer service reps who respond to questions and requests exclusively via Twitter. It’s a revolutionary concept that’s already having an impact on satisfaction and loyalty, according to Best Buy CMO Barry Judge. It allows customers to avoid being put on hold, or left to wonder whether their requests are being handled. Instead, the problem is resolved ASAP and the customer knows exactly which steps are being taken to solve the problem. Plus, Twelpforce is a free way for Best Buy to announce and promote new offers and last-minute discounts.
- Zappos’ CEO engages buyers via Twitter: Zappos reported more than a billion dollars in sales last year for the first time ever. One of the company’s key strategies – creating additional buzz and brand awareness via social networking sites. Zappos set up a microsite devoted to teaching its customers how to register and use Twitter. The Twitter charge was led by Tony Hsieh, Zappos’ CEO, who sent personal requests to develop a community of more than 1,600,000 followers who he interacts with daily. Hsieh uses Twitter to survey customers about business ideas. He also announces contests and free giveaways via his account. All of these updates give “followers” a reason to consistently tune in and find out what the Zappos CEO is up to.
- Starbucks Coffee introduces “My Starbucks Idea:” Starbucks took social networking into its own hands by creating a customer site called “My Starbucks Idea.” The site gives customers the opportunity to pass on suggestions for improving sales, service or satisfaction. The company then posts the suggestions it’s considering online, encouraging other customers to “Share. Vote. Discuss. See.” The idea is to make customers feel as if they’re part of the company’s decision-making process, while gaining actionable feedback about why and how a certain idea should work. By encouraging customers to share their ideas, discuss what they like, vote for their favorites, and track the results, the company has created its own social network, devoted entirely to all-things-Starbucks.
- Ernst & Young use Facebook as a recruiting tool: More than 60% of executives now have a profile on at least one of the popular social networking sites. Accounting pros at Ernst & Young decided to use that to their advantage by attracting top recruits via a “Careers” group on Facebook where everyone from intern candidates to high-level execs can see (and apply for) any E&Y job postings that are available. More importantly, the group gives Ernst & Young a consistent outlet for interacting with top recruits even when there are no job openings. That way, when something does become available, the company already has a pool of first-rate candidates who are eager for the opportunity.
- AT&T develops Twitter microblogs: AT&T hosts a number of regularly-updated blogs available exclusively via Twitter, constantly keeping “followers” updated on industry news, changes to existing products, upcoming launches, as well as ways to maximize the value of AT&T’s service. By using this strategy, AT&T has created a “captive audience,” which it can build rapport with, while cross-selling and upselling new products.
- Guitarmasterpro.net creates a viral sensation via YouTube: In December of 2005, the sales and marketing team at Guitarmasterpro.net recorded a homemade video of a teenager playing an unbelievable guitar solo in his bedroom. At the end of the solo, a quick ad popped up, explaining the boy learned how to play via Guitarmasterpro. To date, that video has been viewed more than 67 million times. 67 million! While companies like Burger King, Universal and Disney have all mastered the art of viral marketing, Gutiarmasterpro is an example of a small company that found an intriguing way to draw millions of prospects without high-cost ads.
Can you think of any other social networking strategies we’ve missed here? We’d love to have you share them in the comments section below.