guest post by Tamar Weinberg
Social media marketing takes many different forms. In one of its most basic executions, building brand awareness through social media communities and maintaining a presence in the more dominant social networks brings forth happier customers and translates into sales.
Chris Heuer coined the phrase "participation is marketing." If you are a brand participating in the social space, you are inherently marketing yourself.
Whether or not they know it (but hopefully goals are in place where they actually know it), a business presence using Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube to build relationships are furthering this goal of building a strong brand and marketing themselves.
Geeks.com, a discount computer retailer, is one such company that has involved itself in the social space to see an increase in sales and awareness of their brand. In fact, I met Michael Buonomo, the Internet Marketing Strategist and SEO Manager of Geeks.com, at one or two of the few search marketing conferences held in the industry. Michael takes his role seriously, and as such, he spearheaded a more social initiative at his company.
Geeks.com has navigated the social territory successfully to build up their brand and increase sales. Their Facebook account, which they are promoting entirely via word of mouth and through other Geeks marketing efforts, boasts almost 4,000 fans. For them, having this presence has given the company a human face.
Customers have been appreciative of being able to connect with the Geeks.com brand on a more personal level. Interactions on their Facebook page are not limited just to their newest sales but to the community itself. One of the recent messages on their wall, for example, was Let me hear your weekend plans. Identifying and connecting with their customers is an important part of the company's mission in the social space.
Geeks.com also has a Twitter presence with over 4,100 followers. The approach here is similar to Facebook. Buonomo says that he aims to create a community via the Twitter account as well, balancing engaging conversations while also promoting the Geeks.com merchandise.
With Twitter, since it's easy to track sentiment based on its search tools, Buonomo says that it helps Geeks stay attentive to customers needs and their feedback. This feedback is relayed to the executive departments internally and Geeks.com chooses to make strategic decisions based on what their customers are saying.
Geeks.com is present in other social communities as well. They have begun building up a GeeksTV YouTube channel where they talk about tech products and feature how-tos. Their videos are well received among their customers and each has been viewed a few hundred to a few thousand times. They are also leveraging StumbleUpon to build traffic to their tech information and how-to blogs. According to Buonomo, it is their #1 traffic referrer of 2009 to date. Using StumbleUpon has been a great brand awareness tool, he says.
How does this translate to sales?
"The return on investment is the increased loyalty between our brand and our customer. If we are able to connect via social media and in turn create a happier, more engaged customer who shops with us more frequently, then we are way ahead of the game. Social media efforts are playing a positive role in our marketing strategy and ultimately contributing to the bottom line," Buonomo explains.
Geeks.com is able to see modest but promising revenue numbers from their social media initiatives. It helps to add that they have seen a 11% increase in sales in the last 3 years, an increase during economically difficult times that is partially supported by participating and thus engaging in social media marketing.
For businesses, even the smallest gestures can make a difference. Geeks.com is a mid-sized company that has shown that this is possible.
Tamar Weinberg is a freelance writer, blogger, and social media strategist. Her specialties are blogger outreach, content promotion, community management, and viral strategy. In July 2009, Tamar published “The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web,” which covers the gamut of social media marketing topics in an easy-to-understand format. Tamar is also the community and marketing manager for Mashable, the top ranked blog on all things social media. She maintains her own blog on social media marketing strategy at Techipedia.com.
On Twitter, follow @tamar