Friday, October 1, 2010

Can Social Media be Scaled for Big Brands?

I recently wrote a post saying that for Big Brands they should think Local.

I also listened to a great Webinar given by @GregVerdino and @JimStorer on microMarketing. I also linked via my blogpost a discussion on Greg's new book of that title. BTW @PoweredInc is giving that Webinar again and I highly recommend you participate. *correction the Webinar is now in the Powered archives. Its a must view. LINK

LINK to @AaronStrout 's review of microMarketing 

Now I wish to get to scale. I have a client @chunknchip that makes a delicious gourmet artisan ice cream sandwich. I helped them grow their twitter followers from 50 to almost 1000 since May 1, and Facebook Fans from 120 to almost 800. I have also trained an intern to help with Twitter and at some of the events they sell at. They also just recently launched their gourmet BOO-Yah!! Truck which a friend of mine painted to much fanfare and acclaim. They took second place out of 49 Trucks for a Yelp! contest at the OC Foodie Fest for favorite truck the day they debuted.

Chunk-n-Chip is only in Southern California. By communicating and growing their fan base especially via Twitter in combination with a superior product they now have a rabid following. So rabid that it is getting hard for me to manage their twitter traffic and interact with everyone who wants to interact. We have gotten many compliments from varied sources that we do Social different than everyone else. But we are getting to a tipping point. It's harder to keep in touch with the early fans because the stream is now handling 900 accounts we follow.

The question I pose is when volume of interaction exceeds people power, how do you remain genuine and keep the relationships going? We have a ton of brand ambassadors that did not exist before. All need to be fed in some way in terms of ensuring they still feel our attention, thanks etc. We can not #FF all of them and not spam everyone's feed. No automated system could make us stay real. And adding people will reduce the ROI.

Let me first state the Chun-n-Chip Brand Ambassadors drive sales. They tell their friends, they post photos of their BOO-Yahs!! on Twitter, they drive 30+ mins in traffic to have one. Its incredible the power of One! I am amazed at what I helped create. Yes it takes a great product, a great business owner willing to take some risks. But this was all done via microMarketing via Social.

But can this scale to large businesses that will impact sales on a large scale? The fact is Brands can not automate social. It must be people connecting with people, or your fans and followers will leave immediately and find other Brands that give them a personal relationship. Remember Brands are hijacking Social Media. Social Media was not created as a Marketing Platform. In fact we are forcing the square peg into the round hole, and very few are achieving success so far. I don't have answers, just observations. I will end though with a simple reinforcement that these individual relationships are powerful when cultivated. And Greg Verdino is right when he discusses microMarketing*. But can it scale?

* I have not read the book. I did participate in Greg's Webinar. I do have the book and I am looking forward to reading it, thank you to Aaron Strout for sending me a complimentary copy. I have no financial interest vested in Greg's Book, Powered Inc, etc. It just nicely fits into the purpose of this blog post.


  1. "Social" is a misleading term. Twitter, FB et al are advertising channels. When small, you can have human service and engagement. But, like all Customer Relations, at a certain point, the economics are not viable. Automated Customer Service is faster, more reliable and when done well (rare, but, we'll see more of it as technology improves) it is more satisfying.

    "Social Media" experts are people who found a job during a near-Depression and are desperately hoping to hold onto it and legitimate it.

    In fact, if you look at the largest pool of human customer relations on Twitter, @twelpforce, from what I've seen, they have been relegated to reading off a script and becoming human-bots.

    Social Media has nothing to do with "social," if anything, it has helped unwind much social fabric, so, let's not fool ourselves.

    - Social Media Guru/Expert and Community Manager

  2. Howie - great post. This is question that will continue to come up and the answer isn't a simple one. Essentially, the way to scale is to add tools, process, training and people. And of those four things, most of them cost money.

    Bottom line, if a company is disciplined, uses the right tools and can ultimately dedicate someone to their social media efforts (assume $40-75K/year), that can go a long way toward scaling. Add in some additional funds for promotions, Facebook expertise and a decent measurement tool and your off to the races.

    If you want an example of someone that is in this same boat but in my mind is doing a great job, it's the Roger Smith Hotel (@RSHotel). Ping @BSimi or @AdWal and ask them how they're doing it.

    Aaron | @aaronstrout