Many marketers are struggling to understand and define their organization’s role within social media. Some of them simply don’t get it and have turned a blind eye (big mistake on their part), others understand they should be engaging and are figuring out how to, some have tiptoed and others have waded head first into this metaphorical sea. Regardless of your company’s size or current level of engagement, you should be paying attention to “smaller” businesses that are engaging and creating real conversations with consumers. They provide good examples of how organizations can engage with consumers via Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and in some cases, are outdoing some of the big boys (enterprise level organizations) playing in the social media sandbox.
Here are 3 examples of “smaller” businesses (non-enterprise) that are utilizing social networks and the tools built around them to engage with consumers:
1. Flagstaff Brewing Company – What they are doing right…
- Presence on Twitter (@FlagstaffBeer) where they are not only talking about their business, but are having conversations with consumers about Flagstaff, beer, brewing and other topics.
- Leveraging the search tools built on and around Twitter such as http://search.twitter.com , Flagstaff Brewing Company is seeking out consumers talking about all things Flagstaff and Beer. See a personal example below. I didn’t even know they were on Twitter, but they saw my tweet and let the community know they have Wi-Fi. There are a variety of ways including http://search.twitter.com, search columns within Twitter clients like TweetDeck and Seesmic Desktop, RSS feeds and other independent websites and applications where businesses can find and engage with consumers about topics related to their organization.
- Facebook fan page (www.facebook.com/Flagstaff-Brewing-Company). Somewhat limited engagement here, but I like how they are at least using the platform to announce events to their fans and give a small glimpse into the brewery via pictures.
2. Boulder Canyon Natural Foods: What they are doing right…
- Boulder Canyons Twitter stream (@BoulderCanyon) is an example of Twitter done right. They not only promote the happenings around their company, but they reach out to consumers who have health-food related questions and provide links to content where they believe their audience will finds tips or added value for their lifestyle.
- Similar to their engagement via Twitter, Boulder Canyon’s Facebook page goes beyond promoting their products/company, and provides links to articles their health-conscious fans would be interested in reading. When consumers post questions or comments, they reply with answers. They are creating conversations with consumers that go beyond their products.
3. Morgan/Dorado Public Relations: What they are doing right…
- Engaging with strangers and connections via LinkedIn. I have seen Joe Morgan of Morgan/Dorado Public Relations pop up all over LinkedIn’s “Answers” section. The section provides any LinkedIn user the ability to post a question and receive answers from the community. He has spent quite some time answering questions about PR, social media and marketing, and even landed a client doing so.
Large companies need to realize it’s not about screaming at consumers. We want engagement, conversation and an understanding that the brand wants us as much as we want them. Flagstaff Brewing Company, Boulder Canyon Natural Foods and Morgan/Dorado Public Relations show us that even small organizations can engage with consumers via social media, and do a good job at it.
Do you think these organizations are good examples? What other examples, good or bad, of small companies engaging in social media are out there?