Thursday, 29 September 2011

Does social media really work?

At Appware we're increasing asked about social media and how it can work for a business. Is it a waste of time or does it really work? We've been using social media extensively for the last couple of years mainly via LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook to a lesser extent (as we believe it's more a business to consumer platform).

We don't claim to be "social media gurus" (an annoying self proclaimation we see all the time!) or talk about ROI (Return On Investment) and develop huge strategy documents and detailed plans around social media. We just get on with what we think may be useful and use it because we enjoy it. After all, when did you last calculate the ROI or analyse your strategy for talking to your friends who just happen to tell their friends and colleagues about your business? This is what we believe is the crux of social media, it's just another form of communication not an exact science!

We're often asked for our top tip for social media (especially Twitter) so here it is:

"Engage don't broadcast"
Would you walk into a room full of people you don't know, stand on a table, and then shout "hey everyone, come and buy my stuff!"? No, I didn't think so! So why do so many people do so with social media? Inevitably they broadcast sales message for a couple of weeks (usually via auto Tweets), get no interest, and then declare social media as useless. Rather than broadcasting, try to engage with people. Follow people of interest, strike up casual conversations, keep things interesting, be helpful, and use the plaform regularly (don't just Tweet once a month!). Eventually you'll build rapport with people just as you do in real life and they'll remember what you do and who knows, they may even send some business your way!

So you're probably thinking that all this is well and good but where's the evidence that this really does work? Ok, here's a real life example of how it worked for us recently...

We recently changed our office phone number and I was running low on my old boring standard business cards so I started coming up with some ideas for something a little different. I wanted to try and create a card that would stand out from the crowd, get across what we do, include my photo to help with the offline networking events I attend, and include a QR code so smartphone users could easily save off my details. I eventually came up with the idea of making the business card look like a smartphone with the front looking like a screen with me calling, and the back of the card including my details and QR code. I then discussed the concept with my design team who came up with the final graphics as follows.

I had previous been recommended by a couple of people but something that really helps make the card look much more realistic was the ability of to produce round cornered business cards (as a standard option).

Once my shiny new cards had arrived I'd posted up some photo's on Flickr and Twitter and the reaction to the card was fantastic. Almost immediately it gained us new business purely from people remembering the cards, what we do, and passing on our details. What happened next was the most amazing thing though. picked up on the buzz around the card on social media and contacted me directly as they loved the idea and wanted to feature it in their newsletter. A few days later they sent this out to over 350,000 subscribers worldwide and over the next week we got over 25 sales leads generated from this! And some people still say social media doesn't work...