Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Facebook Social Commerce

At one of my companies Atomic Tattoos we just recently did an interesting experiment that involved Facebook, contests, sweepstakes, prizes, gift certificates and social commerce.  For the last ten years we have given gift certificates and gift cards to our media partners to use in contests and promotions and we routinely give them away to non-profit organizations to auction off for fund raising campaigns.  Over the last few years we have shifted more and more of our advertising and marketing budget away from traditional media to online media.  More specifically, we have focused our efforts on micro-sites, mini-sites, fan pages combined with interactivity campaigns.


In fact, we haven't so much migrated our budget from traditional media to online, but rather we have literally eliminated a vast portion of our advertising and marketing budget which can now be used toward other activities or realized as profit.  In fact, we have been able to eliminate all telephone directory advertising, drop all print advertising, drop all direct mail advertising and our radio budgets have been slashed to less than half of what they were and can probably be eliminated altogether next year.

How?

Through social media marketing and social commerce.  Not the traditional pay for your SEO people and buy text and banner ads all over the place.  That is not social media marketing.  That is not social commerce.  That is just buying ads and optimizing web pages as far as I am concerned.

Social media marketing and social media commerce must be interactive.  It also must have value.   In fact it must have more value than a simple coupon, discount or an offer.  It must have 'social value'.  What I mean by social value is that the action to offer cycle must be compelling enough for the consumer to not only execute and act on the call to action, but it also must also have sufficient social value that they want to share it with others.

Sharing a coupon, a deal or an offer is old hat.  The consumer doesn't realize they need social value but they intuitively understand the difference between sharing drivel and sharing something interesting, humorous, insightful or intelligent.  Everyone wants comments, everyone wants shares and everyone wants likes!  It is that social attention and validation that shows us we have social value.  If only we could capture it and monetize!  Don't worry we are already working on that one!

The trick is figuring out how to take whatever it is you sell, which might actually be quite boring and everyday, and making it interesting and then make the experience worth sharing.

So, here is how we did it.

First, we created a week long advertising and marketing campaign called Put A Ring In Your Thing Facebook Fan Page as the campaign's micro-site.  The advertising and marketing campaign basically consisted of a Valentine's Day special for $30 body piercings or $50 for couples throughout the week.  We put a small radio advertising budget toward the campaign and purchased a minor amount of Facebook Ads to promote the Facebook Fan Page micro-site.

Second, we added a sweepstakes style contest onto the campaign that required users to "Like" the Facebook Fan Page and they would automatically be entered in a contest to win one of these prizes on March 1, 2012.

  • 1 full sleeve.
  • 2 half sleeves.
  • 100 - $100 gift certificates.
  • 500 - $50 gift certificates.
  • 1,000 - $25 gift certificates.

Third, we created a Put A Ring In Your Thing Facebook Application that consisted of a simple page that explained the contest rules, prizes and when they could claim their prize.  The application was created to show a "Claim Your Prize" button starting March 1st, 2012 and then disappear on April 1st, 2012.

Between Valentine's Day and March 1st the Put A Ring In Your Thing Facebook Fan Page served as a great place for our staff to interact with potential customers and provided a place for the momentum to build up to the Mar 1st prize distribution launch.

On March 1st at midnight a deluge of requests hit our server and we were issuing about 12 prizes a minute.  Sure, not very high transaction volumes, but we are only a 15 store chain.  Within a couple days the prize database was almost empty.  I had thought it would last us the entire month.  So, I had to alter the application to automatically issue $10 consolation gift certificate prizes to everyone else.

The gift certificate automatically personalized to their profile and was designed to only ever issue them one gift certificate.

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Now, the campaign really spread like wildfire because when a person claimed their gift certificate it shared it on their profile which looked like this.

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Notice how that might spread like wildfire?  This showed up on their profile, their feed, social actions and basically within the Facebook social graph and it gave us two links on their side bar.  The first for the Fan Page and the second for the Application.

We didn't want the campaign to end at the end of March, 2012 so we decided to make it social for the staff as well.  Our product is personal services, which is primarily a social activity, so Facebook can be one of the primary sources of new customers for our staff.

When a customer redeems a gift certificate in one of our stores, the staff have to redeem it through Facebook.  It connects the staff member's profile directly with the customer's profile which allows the staff member to provide better customer service, better post sales support, better future sales possibilities and promotional value of their personal brand pages.

Here is what a redeemed gift certificate looks like.
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But wait it gets even better!  Most of our staff have colleagues and customers on their friends lists.  So, we gave the staff the ability to opt-in that they just did a service for customer X at store Y.  It looked like this.

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And it also looked like this.

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Which creates a long-tail on the marketing campaign because these gift certificates will be getting redeemed up through March 31, 2013; one full year.

This campaign experiment was even more successful than any of our other experiments.  We did not spend any extra advertising.  In fact, we spent less.  Our sales went through the roof.  We are seeing between 20 and 30 redemptions a week so far.  At first it was about 20 and now it is averaging about 30 redemptions per week.  For most transactions the customer spends far more than the base gift certificate amount so we are running a positive return on a zero cost campaign.  Remember, we spent money to advertise the week long Valentine's Day week special but no money to advertise the contest.  That was a marketing aspect of the overall campaign.

In summary, I we will be focusing our efforts more on developing associative brand properties like we have in the past.  Sites, micro sites and systems like Tats for Tatas, Toys for Tats and Put a Ring in Your Thing that provide more interactive action/offer cycles and a a more enriching experience that is embedded with social value worth sharing, worth liking and worth commenting on.

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