I am glad to report that the evening lived up to its billing, with an excellent crowd, some learnings from our speaker Heather Gorringe of Wiggly Wigglers (WW), and some intensive speed networking courtesy of my colleague Gaby Rose.
Heather explained that her first venture into Social Media was with a podcast, which is now broadcast every Monday on iTunes. Although I notice their blog dates back to September 2005, which puts them amongst the very earliest of commercial bloggers.
Next came a Facebook group because it meant they could send a weekly newsletter to members. But also gave those same subscribers an easy way to opt out, rather than feel they were being spammed, as often happens with email newsletters.
She feels that Facebook allows you to get your personality and your brand out into the public domain. She recommends you join other groups and invite them to join your group, as a way to expand members. Theirs currently stands at 2,218 which is impressive.
Does using Facebook bring in sales?
Heather illustrated her answer to this with the story of a bride who published her wedding pictures on the WW Facebook group. This acted as a wonderful free WOMA marketing (word of mouth marketing), and seems likely to have generated several sales.
The test is that if you are willing to answer questions from you customers, you can generate a lot of interest. WW currently have over 320 topics on their Facebook group. Their followers get to hear about everything special going on with the company, and to participate in special offers which are only seen by the Facebook group.
Heather said that she thinks Twitter should really be called Peeper, as it gives you a wonderful opportunity to listen to conversations your customers are having.
She deliberately set up an intriguing profile in order to encourage people to follow her, and suggests everyone does the same.
Why does it work?
She found her current accounting software through Twitter , after two previous failures.
In desperation Heather tweeted complaints about her BT phone service, and from four months of trying to get a resolution, and just ten days to being cut off. Within twenty minutes she had a reply and a meeting with her key contact within two days.
The power of trending topics can be seen in the example of the American farmer who used the moo hash tag. Within two hours the story reached 368,000 people, with the only cost being a little bit of time, resulted in national and international press coverage.
Heather gave the example of a complaint about WW service which have been seen as a PR disaster, but was actually an opportunity to put things right in a very public way, and ended up with some excellent comments from the orginal complainer.
Her tip was to search on topics relevant to you, and then follow appropriate people as they are likely to follow you back.
Also save searches on your company name so you can see when you are mentioned on Twitter.
She currently spends half an hour a day on social media activities, but believes it more than pays for the time invested in building a positive view of the WW brand.