Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Demand vs. Budget vs. Scale

One of our clients is making some great progress using Social Media and engaging with folks online in the local community. They are doing so good that we are having impromptu meetings with the managers almost daily for the last week or so. This is good, but is the attention both sides are giving to a small social media plan worth it?

Here is the thing.
For all the work, going back and forth, re-working policies and trying to make one influential social media person happy worth it for all parties? After all the hoopla, the links, the blog posts, the meetings and headaches, there have been 2 official orders since implementing Twitter @ orders. I think that may equal $30-40 or so.

As the agency, I think there are many things that can be done to improve the situation and use social media in their everyday business. From adding notes on their receipts to adding URL's to napkins or to-go boxes, and adding live screens to the restaurant. I do think this would make a difference in their bottom line and would love to see the impact it has so we can scale it to larger businesses and help other mom and pops out with a tight budget.

So what is the budget?
It's not huge. We're not talking McDonald's money here. We are talking about a mom and pop restaurant in which the owners pull shifts, managers work plenty of overtime and the servers could use a few extra tables to help with the bills. So how do you scale social media to increase sales without taking away integrity from regulars, shifts away from employees and focus away from management? And still be authentic.

This is something that we have struggled with. I'd love to get a 40 inch plasma displaying tweets above the bar. Is a $1,000 investment worth it to make a few sales here and there? I don't think so. Is monitoring Twitter 24/7 to take in some orders, make some folks happy and continue to learn about the tools that were a foreign language only 2 months ago? I do think so. Is continuing to engage and create great content themed around their culture, history and restaurant important? You betcha. Has searched increased since we came around. Yup. Has business increased and produced and ROI. Heck yes.

Training and upgrading
As we move forward with this and other clients, I think employee training is becoming more and more a top priority. Social Media is not a marketing strategy in itself, that much we know. But it is also something that we need to take the plastic off of and really sit in to understand. If employees don't know about your Facebook page, then its a fail. If they don't know about discounts shown on a text message, its a fail. Treating employees as part of your marketing plan and mixing that into social media habits is a large next step for us and for many companies this year. The success Zappos employees have with new media is a great start and success story. Some other clients have really grasped that hand holding is just a band aid.

Small Business Scaling
The bigger the budget the bigger the opportunity. I don't believe that statement for a second. Being small means moving faster. Could you imagine if McDonald's took orders over Twitter overnight after one person said that they should? I don't think so. Being able to have freedom and quickness is an advantage that small businesses have with social media. If this Twitter ordering thing doesn't pan out, there will be another move. No harm, no foul. And if tomorrow we produce $1,000 in sales from Twitter orders, maybe I'll push for that flat screen.

Thanks for the enlightening conversation Ted Murphy, Etan Horowitz, ElRoss and GC Koupaki (I am sure there are more of you too).

What are your thoughts on small business, social media and scaling?

-Greg Rollett

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