by Steve Neville
I hear it all the time from people.
“Social Media is ‘fun,’ but it’s not a serious marketing strategy. And, while it’s recommended to have a presence on these mediums, because it shows consumers you are relevant and ‘modern,’ investing anything more than a little time and money into it is ridiculous. Besides, there is no real quantifiable R.O.I. (Return On Investment) like there is in other forms of traditional marketing.”
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and I understand that this sentiment is not a unique feeling of passion spawned by the birth of social media. I have researched and read of people using versions of this same argument for every new technology that could be used as a medium for advertising since the newspaper.
And, as much as I would like to break open the vault and show you our proprietary metrics system we created to show a R.O.I., or share with you the multitude of messages we have received from consumers to companies whose social media we manage asking to specifically purchase a certain product, the most powerful/legal way we feel we can make our point to someone that scoffs at the power of social media is to tell you a story.
The story of two Social Media Marketers in Indianapolis:
The two set up shop in June.
One, a successful Salesman eager for freedom and a release from the traditional ways of marketing and sales. The other, a Social Media Manager, Writer, PR Rep, and Blogger looking for a challenge. Both had a passion and love for social media, and wanted to prove to the naysayers that this form of marketing has a stay in traditional business.
How, you might ask?
In July of 2011, the two Indianapolis Social Media Marketers, now dubbed Intelligent Designs Media, had a plan. A plan to use social media to its fullest and get their name out in the local business scene by throwing a party, the likes of which had never been seen in Indianapolis.
The only problem was, they weren’t sure what kind of party to throw.
Until one day, while their software was targeting and organizing the influencers and influences on Twitter and Facebook in Indianapolis, Technology Director Steve Neville noticed a pattern. The vast majority of the influencers were food trucks. Steve, who has a natural love of food and cuisine, quickly did some research and found that a Food Truck Festival had never been done in the Indianapolis area. Thus, Taste of The Trucks was born.
Steve and his business partner, David Butz, took the idea of a Food Truck Festival and ran with it, deciding only to use social media to advertise. They built Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and LinkedIn groups to advertise their business and the festival.
The campaign was a success, 700 people RSVP’d on the Facebook invite page, but David and Steve expected more around 1,500 people based on the positive word-of-mouth they were getting. But, on 8/13/11, 4,500 people showed up for the inaugural Taste of The Trucks, a number that surprised the two men and truly showcased the power of social media.
From there, David and Steve gained clients and began Social Media Management for many small, medium, and large-sized companies around Indianapolis. Using methods they created called “Search Integrated Social Marketing,” they began getting direct sales for their clients straight from a variety of social mediums. Again, the clients were amazed at how social media not only allowed them the added benefits of increased communication with potential clients, but the “bonus” of actually getting direct, quantifiable sales from it.
Then in December, while still hard at work, they got a call from a company out in Los Angeles about a little event in Indianapolis called ‘The NFL Super Bowl.” They had read about the Taste of The Trucks and wanted to know if we could bring food trucks indoors for the NFLPA (NFL Player’s Association) Player’s Party?
David and Steve’s answer: “Why not?”
So the two prepared, planned, and worked tirelessly to bring food trucks indoors for the first time ever in Indianapolis.
The result was an event unlike any other in Indianapolis, complete with four of the best food trucks in Indianapolis, and it was all indoors for the first time.
Watch here (NSFW lyrics) as Grammy winner J-cole performs with food trucks in the background at the NFLPA PLayer’s Party:
And while one may argue that this particular event had nothing directly to do with social media, all of the events in the story: the first festival, the success with clients, and the NFLPA Player’s Party all spawned from the POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA.
Plus, the NFLPA Player’s Party is the perfect retort to the quote that started this whole story, and is a perfect example of the powerful, albeit sometimes indirect, role social media plays in business.True, social media may not always have the direct selling power that a price tag in a store has on making an initial sale, but social media is lasting.
By putting your company out there in social media, you are building relationships with customers who have the potential to become loyal brand ambassadors and even lifelong consumers for years. And these relationships can open doors to dreams and sales you never even imagined possible.
Just like when social media worked for these two dreamers from Indianapolis, who sat there that day in February, next to NFL Player’s eating food from trucks they organized, planned, and delivered. Just 6-months after they decided to see where social media could take them.
Let’s see where social media can take you.