The Morter effect – utilising the power of social media for your small business
If ever there was an example of the power of social media, this year’s Christmas Number 1 chart battle was it. For the last four years the sought-after top-spot has been dominated by the winner of TV show The X Factor, but in 2009 a husband and wife partnership from Chelmsford put a stop to that trend.
Jon and Tracy Morter launched a Facebook campaign to get American rap metal band Rage Against the Machine to the Christmas number one spot, with their expletive-ridden 1992 hit ‘Killing in the Name’. The couple set up the group after becoming “bored” with the TV show’s festive chart dominance.
“Fed up with Simon Cowell’s latest karaoke act being Christmas No. 1?” read the Facebook page introduction. “Me too … So who’s up for a mass-purchase of the track ‘KILLING IN THE NAME’ from December 13th as a protest to the X Factor monotony?”
Gaining more than 450,000 members, the campaign took off and sales quickly rocketed. Over half a million singles of the track were purchased, making it not only the Christmas number one, but also the first ever Christmas number one that was available only through downloads.
The group was also linked to homelessness charity Shelter, and to date, the Facebook group members alone have donated over ┬ú70,000 to the cause.
What makes this campaign so interesting is that more than 500,000 copies of a 17-year old song were sold off the back of a simple, free web page. So impressed was X Factor judge Simon Cowell that he even offered the Morters a job – which they declined. And not only did this Christmas chart battle make history, it also created a huge wave of media interest that has made Jon and Tracy Morter into a household name.
Social media for business
This chart battle highlights the enormous potential of social media, which a growing number of businesses are trying to tap into. But the success of marketing through online social channels is often determined by a very fine line.
Some businesses fare better than others when using social media as a marketing tool, and the general rule of thumb suggests that companies hoping to break into the world of social media advertising should do so in an inadvertent manner.
According to a blog post by Michael Reynolds, Jim DeWitt of DeWitt Insurance Group grew his Facebook advertising by setting out as an everyday user. Reynolds explains how DeWitt started off by reconnecting with old friends but did not overtly talk about business. Instead he simply responded to questions about his work which somewhat inadvertently led to new opportunities.
“At its most basic level, Facebook allowed Jim to expand his network and engage in business conversations with his connections,” says Reynolds.
He also explains how DeWitt began to share stories via his Facebook news feed. One such posting simply mentioned that he enjoyed helping his clients save money – which led to 3 new clients.
“It was not a hard sell,” says Reynolds, “but rather an authentic story that displayed his passion for helping others.”
Jumping on the bandwagon
Too many companies are unsuccessful at social media marketing because they don’t commit time to it or plan their strategy in advance. Many firms open a Twitter or Facebook account but fail to keep it property updated, or flood the site with keyword-heavy terms and postings in a bid to drive more traffic to their site.
Business blogger Mike Sweeney says: “I think many people think that if you can count yourself as one of those cited above that ‘have a Twitter account’ and ‘created a social network profile’ that you should start to see massive success in social media. The reality of course is very different.”
He adds: “My view on social media is, either you’re in or you’re out. If you want to be involved in social media do just that – be involved.”
Tips for social media success
Having spoken to a number of businesses and consumers, we’ve pulled together a few tricks to help you stay in the social media good books.
Explain yourself – Write a good profile biography. Explain what you do in as few a words as possible, but steer clear of jargon. This section will give new readers an insight into your business, and will help them to decide whether to stick with you or not. Users often decide whether or not to read your page or ‘follow’ you in a matter of seconds, so keep it short, clear and concise.
You should also choose a decent photo or logo (avoid blurry or detailed images, which can be difficult to make out when it’s been reduced in size) and background image. Don’t splash your logo across the page or choose garish colours – follow some simple web design rules, or just stick to a plain white or light background.
Be committed – Take time to regularly update and maintain your social media page. If your last posting is 3 weeks out of date, new users will assume that you’re not a reliable or worthy source, and existing users will more than likely forget that your page even exists.
Be honest and consistent – Don’t try to make ridiculous claims about who you are or what your company does. Stick to your brand, stay consistent and focus on your strengths. You could also offer snippets of advice or information that others might not be aware of, as this could help draw in new users and add weight to your brand.
We found a useful forum entry which offers plenty more tips and tricks to help you create a good social media profile. Take a look at this page for more information: Social Media for Business: The Dos & Don’ts of Sharing.
If you’ve got experience of marketing your business through social media, get in touch below and share your views. Do you have a success story that can rival 2009’s Christmas chart battle? Is social media marketing really worth the effort? What words of advice can you offer to other companies?