I hate my laptop. It’s actually probably a fine laptop except for the fact that it runs Windows Vista, possibly the worst OS ever created. After waking up to discover that 8 hours was not enough time to download Windows latest round of important updates I was ready to throw it across the room. I know that I should just buy a new one, but since I received this as a birthday gift guilt won over my rage. Instead of committing computercide I took to Twitter to have the following conversation.
For anyone who follows brands in social media, the story of Best Buy and Twelpforce is familiar. Along with Dell and Kodak, Best Buy had an advantage of being one of the first in the game. Being first can only take you so far, as Friendster and MySpace will surely attest. So when I directed a message to @Twelpforce, I wasn’t surprised to get a response by the time I got to work that morning. What did surprise me was just how many responses I received. In additional to the main account, I also exchanged tweets with an agent from Geek Squad at a store up near Rochester, NY and another from a store in Massachusetts. I obviously wasn’t going to be driving over 4 hours to get my sucky laptop fixed, but that didn’t stop either of these accounts from reaching out and helping me with my question.
Now, here’s the important part of the story. I didn’t take my laptop to Best Buy for all the services that were recommended. I did take some discarded memory from my neighbor which fixed all of my problems. From a traditional ROI view, this exchange would be viewed as a failure. It did not lead to a conversion. If you’re nodding your head in agreement, then I’m sorry to tell you that you are dead wrong. All of the time and money that Best Buy has invested in social media has paid off. I had a problem with my laptop and I immediately thought to reach out to Best Buy. I received an answer quickly and even enjoyed some tweets with their personable agents. I was so impressed by the service I received that I took the time to write this blog post, sharing my positive with experience with everyone who subscribes to this blog. (Thank you all btw for that!)
I’m sure that if you searched for “social media ROI” you could find a formula that would convince TPTB to take a chance on social media. Some way to measure conversions and sales, that fits easily into an excel sheet. Whenever I find myself in this situation I like to use an example from a beloved movie. In Miracle on 34th Street, Santa famously directs a mother to the Acme Toy Store and directs others to their rival, Gimbels, across the street to purchase toys that are out-of-stock at Macy’s. His boss is furious until Mr. Macy is inundated with letters and telegrams expressing their “undying gratitude” to Macy’s for, in essence, make their lives easier. Mr. Macy officially changes the sales policy at the store and even Gimbels starts instructing their clerks to send people to Macy’s if they can’t find what they are looking for that day.
Best Buy did not make a sale that day in February, but they did turn me into a loyal customer. And if that isn’t the long-term goal of commerce than I don’t know what is.
Now it’s your turn. Let me know in the comments below what you think brands should be using social media for, how you measure social media success, or anything else addressed in the post. I look forward to hearing your thoughts!
PS Here’s one of my all-time favorite videos about social networking. Since I mentioned the once-dominant Friendster and MySpace it seems like a good time to share it with all of you.