Perfect example of how to leverage Facebook for your small business

Here’s a perfect example of how a small ice cream company is utilizing the awesome leverage of Facebook to create brand awareness and get involved with their customers.  Great Read!

Here’s what they did: Having created a nice Facebook fan page, Tillamook asked people what they thought of when they took their first bite of Tillamook Ice Cream. People posted some great stories, so much so that the dairy decided to use those testimonials as the basis for their entire TV ad campaign.

They then took it one step further, using Facebook again, this time to put out a casting call for the commercials. As a result, the Tillamook commercials use real customers sharing their real feelings about ice cream they really love (after all, they signed up to be online fans, right?) As such, the spots have an authentic feel to them that gives Tillamook a leg up on the competition.

The entire campaign is a great example of how any business can use social media to create a unique marketing campaign, even with a small budget. In this case, it was real customers who created the content and real customers who starred in the ads. Talk about savings.

I would suggest that there are two key takeaways from what Tillamook is doing that you can use in your own business:

The first is that it is simply not enough to have a social media presence anymore. The real trick is to engage people online in such a way that they get a benefit out of spending their e-time with you. That is what the Tillamook Facebook fan page did.

Online, there are literally millions of choices when people surf around. They will choose you only if they find their interactions with you and your site engaging and rewarding, meaning, having a site, fan page, or Twitter account is probably not enough. The real trick is to forge a connection.

How? There is no shortage of ways:

  • Have a contest
  • Post a poll
  • Give away free stuff
  • Engage and chat with them – build relationships
  • Have a “fan of the week”
  • Create a quiz
  • Create a mobile app

You get the idea. That is what Tillamook did. They created a place online where people can connect and hang out – by offering videos, recipes, contests, and more.

The second thing that Tillamook did right that is worthy of emulation is that they relied on user-created content to make that connection. The power of user-created content is two-fold:

First, it is incredibly affordable because it is your customers, and not your business, that is taking the time and effort to create the content. Sure you have to cull through it to see what is usable, but that is a whole lot easier than creating it all yourself.

Second, because it is your customers and not you creating the content, it inherently is considered reliable; when someone takes the time to create content on your site, they must really like what you do.

How do you get users to create content? It’s the same idea: You could host forums or have a contest, Call for essays or videos or testimonials or maps or flags or models or whatever it is that relates to your business.

By doing these two things: engaging with the people who visit your site and getting them to create some of your content. You too can have some yummy results.

10 ‘Super-Friending’ Tactics…You Should Be Using

There was a day when Twitter was just a tiny site with a 140-character blank box.  Today, the messaging service is now home to more than two billion tweets per month.  The company’s CTO Dick Costolo recently announced that they’re signing up 135,000 new registrations a day.  With so much conversation on just one website, it’s tough to know how to get your business stand out from the online chatter. I just published a book called Power Friending: Demystifying Social Media to Grow Your Business, and it demystifies social media to help grow your business. Although it’s a 50,000 word read, here are the top ten tips from the book that should entice you to learn more.

1. Act authentically. A few years I worked as a social media consultant with Tony Robbins. As a leading speaker, entrepreneur, and coach, he is one of the busiest people I know. Still, today, Tony has time to manage many of his own social media efforts. As an active Twitter user (@tonyrobbins), he shares honest and compelling personal and professional messages. When he recently celebrated his 50th birthday, he took the time to record a friendly audio message for his fans. Being honest, accessible, and authentic is a key ingredient to social media success.

2. Make time. People complain endlessly about not having time to roll social media efforts into their lives. Let’s face it, many of us are short on time. As many highly effective people will attest, you always have time for the things you put first. Take the Tony example, I’m quite sure he doesn’t have time to record friendly audio and video messages for an audience but he makes time because he knows it’s important for his business.

3. Be consistent. As much as you want to run away from your email and the web for a few days here and there, to ensure that your online marketing efforts are getting results try to participate in the social media world on a regular basis. That doesn’t mean that you have to stay glued to your computer 24-7, but try to respond to comments within twenty-four or forty-eight hours during the work week.

4. Tell stories. If you’re looking for content ideas, there is nothing better than a good story. Whether you’re sharing photos on Flickr or blogging on Blogger, people love to look inside the lives of people at home and at work.  Although you don’t want to share anything that makes you uncomfortable, a little personality goes a long way online.

5. Plan ahead. When I interviewed the face of Ford’s social media efforts for my book he explained that a strategic plan kept his company on top. “A solid social media strategy meant that we had a plan and were well prepared for the newfound attention we received,” said Scott Monty.  While you might not be experience a huge wave of social media activity right now, six months down the road this could change. As a result, you should be prepared.

6. Embrace criticism. No one likes negative comments, but may times this feedback can help your organization make appropriate changes. The worst thing you can do when someone lashes out with a complaint is to ignore them completely. Often times, the individual simply wants a reaction and someone to listen to their problems.

7. Listen well. To pick up on the last point, be aware of what people are saying about your brand or business. A free and easy way to do this is to sign up for Google Alerts, so you can monitor online conversations on a regular basis.  Depending on what you hear, look to your plan to figure out how you want to engage.

8. Create a policy. As social media continues to grow quickly, and more than 400 million people worldwide continue to flock to Facebook, now is a good time for your business to develop a social media policy. This document can help your team determine what’s appropriate to talk about online, and how they should interact in various situations. For example, Coca-Cola’s social media policy includes a few smart guidelines, including advising employees that the Internet is permanent and that local posts have global significance.

9. Go mobile. Remember how quickly the mobile world is exploding. Within more than one million iPads sold since launch, the demand for apps on the go shouldn’t be ignored.  Consider developing your own application, either now or put it on your project plan for the future.

10. Have fun. Although the technology is constantly evolving, and often frustrating, there are lots of exciting opportunities in the social media environment. A few weeks ago I hosted a workshop where attendees were tasked with developing an online video campaign for a fictitious airline in under thirty minutes. Many groups pitched pretty traditional ideas, but one group dragged their chairs up on stage and acted out an online skit with “Amelia Earhart” leading the audience through their plans to go viral. In other words, the most creative and original ideas have the best chance to stand out.

Amber MacArthur is a social media consultant, speaker, and author of Power Friending: Demystifying Social Media to Grow Your Business.