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If you’re going to create an app, make it unique.Put your fans to work creating promotional video.Solicit suggestions and feedback from your social media followers.Run exclusive social media promotions.Customize your Facebook page.Hire using social media.Use geolocation creatively.Create a website dedicated to a specific campaign.
With huge budgets and entire departments dedicated to social media, big business has conceived of some very innovative ways to use social media. Here are some lessons that small business can take away from these campaigns.
Think outside the box. Nike created an app that has nothing to do with its shoes. Nike Training Club is a training app that offers users their own personal mobile trainer with custom-built workouts, audio guidance, and on-demand instructions. Corvida Raven, social media strategist and blogger at Shegeeks.net, suggests that small businesses have a clear direction before jumping on the app bandwagon. She suggests that small businesses come up with something innovative and effective rather than redundant and unproductive.
Sony Music is partnering with the Michael Jackson estate for “Behind the Mask,” a crowdsourced video for a song by the late King of Pop. Fans will have the opportunity to send in their own home videos of them filming props, backgrounds, playing instruments, or singing, and the most enthusiastic clips will be chosen and woven into Jackson’s next music video.
Similarly, small businesses can recruit their most enthusiastic fans to submit videos for a potential commercial, testimonials for their website, video posts on Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, or other social media sites—or create a pop song.
When JetBlue social media strategist Morgan Johnston and his colleagues were called to a meeting to discuss how to increase awareness of the @JetBlueCheeps Twitter account, they opened up the discussion to their Twitter followers—asking their opinions on what should be done differently. You don’t always have to have all the answers. Social media presents a unique opportunity to engage in a productive two-way discussion with your customers. “Tweet with your team. It’s a great opportunity to get that real-time market research,” recommends Johnston.
Last year, JetBlue devised its Twitter Ticket Giveaway—the company tweeted secret locations in New York City, Buffalo, and Boston where people could received free plane tickets—in celebration of the company’s 10th anniversary. By sending out a tweet for action, businesses can connect with their customers in a fun way, while rewarding their most loyal and enthusiastic customers with lucrative prizes.
The funky headphone and apparel retailer Skullcandy has created a multi-purpose Facebook app that allows users to listen to music, watch videos, download apps, shop, and more. If you lack the budget to have a custom Facebook widget designed, think about crowdsourcing the job or hiring a young, eager developer that’s trying to gain experience. Alternatively, you can still customize your Facebook page by adding a blog, discussion boards, and other features. The point is to present fans with something that keeps them coming back for more.
Flight Centre, a worldwide travel agency based in Brisbane, Australia, used social media to advertise and hire for their social media positions. Says their Toronto-based global social media leader Gregg Tilston, the company asked applicants for five of their personal social media links, a 140-character “cover letter” on why they’d be a great fit for Flight Centre, and a 140-character resume—all to be posted to Twitter confidentially. “I certainly believe that small businesses absolutely can utilize this [method] from a transparency perspective and get a lot more insight into their perspective employees,” says Tilston.
Shopkick is transforming the way that companies such as Best Buy, Target, Macy’s Wet Seal, and many others are allowing their customers to gain rewards points and access coupons. Shopkick has developed a technology called the Shopkick Signal that allows those who download the smartphone app to receive shopping credits called Kickbucks to customers simply for walking into the store. Customers can also scan items with their camera phone to earn more Kickbucks. The company is currently running a “Kickstarter” promotion and is offering free starter kits for new businesses. If you are the owner of a small brick and mortar retail business, you can use this technology to turn your establishment into an interactive shopping experience for patrons in the same way that the bigger brands and retail chains are doing.
When Burger King wanted to promote their 2008 Whopper Virgins campaign, they created a new website called WhopperVirgins.com where they posted videos of live taste tests involving real participants. By using a dedicated domain name you can promote a specific campaign to a target audience, like to new customers, for example. Don't forget to include a link to your main website on your promotional page and vice versa—the cross-linkage will boost your SEO and make your customers aware of both sites. When Chevrolet wanted to unveil the new version of its Volt car model to the masses, it did so on the road. The company made stops in 12 major cities with a social media team in tow, showcasing the car to interested fans while vlogging and blogging about the tour's progress on Chevy's website and on other social media. Small businesses can use this tactic nationally as Chevy did or locally—by blogging or vlogging about various promotional events and connecting with potential customers face-to-face and online.