Sampling Spells Success in SM

Stacked shirts with sale tag attached on store counter, close-upIt’s evident that social media is a hugely successful endeavor for many brands and companies, while others may as well not have entered the SM sphere. After seeing the disparity in results first-hand, I started thinking about what makes the difference, aside from the obvious differences in levels of engagement, nature of content, audience and relationship building measures. That led me to start thinking about how bakeries use social media (shocking, I know.)  There I found the big difference – sampling.

When you have the opportunity to bait consumers to take their SM love for your company or brand and establish a real life relationship, you are golden. It seems elementary, but sampling is a great way to distinguish oneself from the competition and generate monetized ROI on your SM investment.

As someone who follows a number of bakeries on Twitter and is obsessed with cupcakes, I have found myself Googling bakery names to see if there were nearby locations when I have seen a good promotional offer in the bakery’s Twitter stream. Plus, their consistent updates throughout the day keep them top of mind. There have been days when I have left the office still thinking about the daily special that was tweeted hours before and wishing the bakery were nearby.

While this methodology makes great sense for culinary brands, and the Twitter account of Sprinkles demonstrates how it can be effectively executed, there are other types of businesses that could benefit from this approach to SM.

Let’s take a carwash for an example. If you live equidistant from two car washes of comparable quality and price, it would seem there is no significant advantage to supporting Carwash A or Carwash B. But if one or both of the carwashes is on Twitter or Facebook, there may be a way to sway your support. If Carwash A tweets that they are offering a free car vacuuming to customers who mention a discount code only given to their Twitter followers, they can (1) differentiate themselves from their competition, (2) attract customers who may have typically supported Customer B and (3) establish a real-life connection with their social media audience.

Although gratis and discounts are always great, even brands that aren’t willing to take this approach can still employ the sampling model. Perhaps your SM audience would enjoy a tour of your facility or benefit from a level of expertise that can only be offered in-person. The key is to give your audience an incentive to take their support for your brand from online to offline.

There are countless versions of nearly every business model on Facebook and Twitter. To that end, there is a wide range of companies within the same industry experiencing varied levels of SM success, and for many brands, the level of success correlates to the effectiveness of their sampling model.

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