As we already know, social media can drive sales. But Toronto entrepreneur Ryan Smolkin didn’t need a study to tell him that. He is living proof of the power of social media, not just to build brands – but to actually grow revenue.
Smolkin is the founder of Smoke’s Poutinerie, a growing chain of restaurants selling poutine, a popular Canadian favorite containing French Fries, cheese curds and gravy. The mixture is often served with additional toppings like carmelized onions and bacon.
Recipe for Success
A look at Smolkin’s Facebook and Twitter feeds show this food entrepreneur’s recipe for success.
His social feeds share information about his latest restaurant openings, giveaways and other events. There’s also banter with customers and information on visits to local college campuses.
Smolkin told CNN Money recently:
“We put up things that people care about and want to see. We give them a reason to come back and they bring their friends when they do.”
So successful has Smolkin’s social media effort become that fans of his specialty now regularly share their experiences themselves. It is a nonstop word of mouth campaign that continues without even needing his direction.
No Marketing Plan Other Than Facebook
Smolkin launched his chain of restaurants in 2008 with what many would have considered a crazy idea at the time.
He had no marketing budget, but instead, spent five hours a night on Facebook sending invites to friends from his company’s account.
The strategy paid off. Friends came, told friends, and the company’s reputation grew. Today, Smolkin’s chain has 60 restaurants across Canada and projects $28 million in sales by the end of the year.
He soon added Twitter to his social media marketing mix as well.
What You Can Learn?
The key to Smolkin’s success continues to be what he chooses to post and share on social media. Though his Facebook and Twitter account clearly drive sales, they never seem to visibly sell.
Rather, he shares news and information he knows will be important to his community, including giving customers directions to his chain’s nearest location. What he won’t do is post coupons and offers, feeling they devalue his product.
Social media can be a powerful driving force for revenue if used correctly. Just remember to treat your community well – and they will do the rest.
2.) Red Bull
Red Bull is a popular energy drink that has built a very strong fan base. Let’s study some of their smart practices.
Upon your first visit to their page, you can’t avoid their strong, but fun, call to action. If their power of suggestion isn’t enough, they also provide a subtle hint as to what’s waiting for you when you become a fan (notice the grayed-out videos).
The grayed out area shows you what you’re missing until you like Red Bull.
The more you can get fans returning to your page and lingering, the greater the likelihood they’ll tell their friends about you and eventually choose your products and services.
Red Bull developed a series of games and a TV channel for this very reason. While you may not have the budget to hire game developers or start your own TV channel, this might inspire some creative thinking on how to keep fans returning to your page.
Red Bull has created games to keep fans returning to their page.
Red Bull also has their own TV channel.
Depending on your brand, it might be valuable to find ways to meet your fans in person. The Events tab can be a powerful way to let your fans know where to find you. Red Bull makes a great use of this.
Some of the places Red Bull fans can gather.
- Don’t be afraid to be bold and creative when asking for a Like.
- Find innovative ways to keep fans on your page through games, TV, apps, videos, photos, etc.
- Use the Events tab to allow fans to find you face-to-face.
3.) Agilent Technologies
Agilent is a B2B company that uses their Facebook page to tell where their instruments are being used. They brand their images and make them eye-catching.
Agilent also connects people to the brand by sharing personal information. For example, they featured their longest-serving employee with then-and-now photos and a link to her story.
Help your audience get to know your brand by featuring your employees.
Key Takeaway: Tell a story about one of your employees.
4.) Qatar Airways
Qatar posts a number of pictures about football (soccer in America), which is what their fans care about. Fans are very responsive to questions and posts on the company’s page, as well.
Qatar also changes their cover photo often, which is a great way to promote something new.
Key Takeaways: Post what engages your audience and change your cover photo often.
5.) American Express Open Forum
American Express has created a forum just for small business owners and leaders. Through a strategic partnership with Facebook, they created a massive contest for small businesses that generated lots of interest and increased their fan base. Note the importance of having a valuable prize ($20,000).
This contest brought lots of new small business fans to Amex.
A key to creating ongoing engagement on your wall is to use variety in your posts. Notice how Amex uses questions, quotes and articles to engage their fans. It’s also important to use shorter posts.
Notice the variety in these 3 posts.
American Express also cleverly integrated their rewards program so people can redeem points for Facebook ads. Maybe you can’t leverage a deal with Facebook, but perhaps this kind of rewards incentive might get you thinking about partnership opportunities you’ve been overlooking.
This partnership with Facebook helps small business owners.
Amex features their authors and articles through some savvy Facebook integration. This requires special programming, but gives contributors the notoriety they deserve.
Amex features their experts and ads variety with polls and video clips.
- Integrate your blog with your Facebook page.
- Create variety in your posts.
- Form strategic partnerships that benefit your fans.
Image Credits: Smoke’s Poutinerie Facebook,