Wednesday, sitting in my car on Glenwood Avenue for a little over three hours, I had some time to glance at the #Raleigh #Snowpocolypse discussions on Twitter, especially when I started turning off the car to save gas.
Aside from a realtor selling beach front property offering very polite wishes for our well-being, no business were on Twitter offering any value related to the storm. (If you saw one that I missed in my fits and starts of driving, please let me know in the comments.)
I can think of quite a few businesses that should have been there. Jeep dealer with a contest- post a picture of your Jeep in the snow. How about a sports medicine clinic- most treacherous sidewalk photo contest. Or a primary care announcing that their nurse line open for current clients. Or a masseur offering a discount for those of us that pushed a car, oof!
First social media marketing lesson of Snowpocalypse: If you don't show up to the conversation, you don't exist!
After three hours I gave up on getting home. I was over it. The Hampton Inn at Crabtree Valley was full, but not overly so- some people who had planned to be there couldn't get in, balancing those of us who hadn't planned to stay there at all. It was Wednesday, the governor had locked down price gouging, the room was a bargain. And yet look at the stacks and stacks (the picture captures less than half of them) of beautiful Hungry Howie's pizzas the hotel gave us!
Second social media marketing lesson of Snowpocalype: Give your customers something to talk about.
This is the real way to do social marketing: give your customers something to talk about. It doesn't matter if they tell their friends on their newfangled cell phone or if they use the newfangled social media. How many people stuck in the storm called their partner left at home to tell them about their pizza? I put the picture on my personal Facebook page. If you were an independent pizza shop in Raleigh, what kind of promotional pricing would it have been worth assure your pizza a place in one of these hotels? The Hampton Inn already knew what the value was in offering it.
What happens if you don't give your customers something to talk about? 1-800-FLOWERS found out. Social media lets you put a human face in front of the customer, and they thought that meant signing their tweets with customer service representatives' names. That's not enough to balance out their ice-cold website. Their Facebook page has one lame picture of a couple of guys standing in the snow not getting anything done.
Third social media marketing lesson of Snowpocolypse: Be authentic about your human face.
Showing real people at work doesn't make anyone any happier to get half-dead flowers but it does put what they're up against into context: 1-800-FLOWERS has a ridiculous business model of shipping flowers via parcel and for the most part their people get it done even on level Impossible. We can hate the CEO and still be rooting for the employees, but even if we were inclined to do that we can't because 1-800-FLOWERS doesn't give us a glimpse of their lives. 1-800-FLOWERS thus is also proving the first rule again:
To be effective in social media marketing you have to show up!