Keeping the “Social” in Social Media

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Submitted for your approval, the following case study:

The companies Rockler and Woodcraft offer an interesting comparison involving Twitter.  Both companies are stalwarts in the woodworking industry, roughly the same size, have similar web sites, and both started tweeting almost a year ago (Rockler began in December 2008,  Woodcraft got started in January of 2009).  However, it is in their Twitter strategies that we see a huge difference.

Woodcraft has used Twitter almost extensively as an advertising component.  Nearly every tweet they put forth is pushing a sale, discount, or product line for emphasis.  They rarely receive any tweets from their followers.

Meanwhile, Rockler has used Twitter as an opportunity to engage its customers and followers.  Roughly 80% of its tweets are NON-COMMERCIAL.  They ask questions of their followers (i.e. what is the best music to put to wordworking?)  and respond to questions or comments that are posed to the company (which occurs many times every day).

The results:  Rockler has more than three times as many followers as Woodcraft (2500-800).

So, what can we take from this?   By being more engaged with the customer and finding ways to keep their tweets interesting, Rockler has developed a much bigger and more involved following.  When they do tweet about their products and/or sales, they are reaching a significantly larger audience and more interested audience than Woodcraft does.  If every message is pushing a product, it is too easy for the followers to dismiss the company’s tweets as spam.

It should be noted that without access to the accounting books, it is impossible to say definitively which company is seeing a bigger return from Twitter.  Yet, it is probably safe to say that any salesperson in the world would take the much larger and more captivated audience over the opposite.

Social media is looking more and more like a viable business model every day, but it is important to never forget the social aspect of it…or your customers might forget you.

-EW