Case Studies

How You’re Getting Social Media Wrong – A Personal Case Study

social mediaMost small businesses have social media all wrong.

They start using Twitter or Facebook because that’s where their friends tell them they should be.

After gaining a few followers and fans, they start spouting off messages about sales they’re having or a new product they’ve come out with.

They think, hey, I have all these people who are now fans of my business so why not tell them about everything I’m selling.

Social media becomes their virtual soapbox and they use it as a bullhorn to talk about what they want to talk about rather than listening to and talking about what their customers want to hear about.

Listening Is the Core of Social Media

The way you win in social media is by listening to your customers on the platform or platforms they are on and engaging with them by adding value to the conversation.

That’s the gold.

By doing this you build a relationship with your customers so they can begin to know, like and trust you.  The more you add value to them and engage in the conversations they’re having, the more they’ll be apt to buy from you.

Unfortunately, though, this is where most small businesses miss the mark with social media.  

The Mailbox App Team “Gets It”

One company who is doing a good job of using social media to listen to the conversation is the Mailbox App.

It’s an iPhone app that integrates with Gmail and it allows you to get through your email inbox quicker.  I don’t know about you but my email is way out of control.

Recently, I had a first-hand experience with the peeps behind the Mailbox App using social media to listen to their customers.

It was a brief interaction with them on Twitter, but it showed they have a human side and as a result they gained my respect.

I also now tell everyone I know who uses an iPhone and Gmail to get on the waiting list for this super cool app.

I was at the Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Marketing conference in San Diego recently and I noticed my buddy Srini from BlogcastFM whipping through his emails on his iPhone.  

Within a couple minutes and after several swipes of his finger, he had his inbox down to zero.

Woa!  What in the world is that, I asked.  He wasn’t using the standard iPhone mail app.

He laughed and told me it was the Mailbox app.  Hadn’t I ever heard of it?

Ah, no.

He said it was one of his favorite new apps and it saves him a ton of time in getting through his email.  

He told me where to find it in the App Store but that I’d likely have to wait a while before actually being able to use it after downloading it.  There was a “waiting list” of like 100,000 people.

Wait, what!?  I have to wait in a line of 100,000 people in order to get the app?

social mediaI jumped into the App Store to see what he was talking about.  I downloaded it and sure enough, I was number 96, 254 in line.

Srini laughed and said it should be about a month before I could start using it.  And, they had a cool feature where you could keep an eye on your place in line.

When you pulled up the app on your phone, the number started counting down right there on the screen.  You could track your progress in real time.

How cool is that!?  

I was completely enamored with it and found myself checking it throughout the day just so I could watch my progress. (enter your own “nerd” comment here)

Talk about creating demand.

Through scarcity and social proof (the number of people waiting) the team behind the Mailbox app had created a ton of buzz and demand for their product.

How One Simple Exchange Turned Me Into a Brand Advocate

A day or so after I signed up I was pleasantly surprised to see myself moving quickly up the cue.  The digital tracker was ticking off a few thousand at a time.

I jokingly tweeted Srini to let him know, and included the Mailbox team in my tweet.  Here’s a screenshot, with a reference to the movie “Dumb and Dumber.”

social media marketing

I didn’t expect a response from the Mailbox team, but they surprised me a few minutes later with this tweet back: 

social media marketing

Which started a few fun tweets back and forth:

social media marketing

The “tinyurl” they sent me, btw, was a funny dance move.

Well played Mailbox team, well played.

But what I loved most about this exchange was that it showed they were listening to and engaging with their customers.

It showed a human side of an iPhone app.

They weren’t trying to sell me (the app is free), they were just talking to me.  Engaging with their customers.

It was the simplest of exchanges but it was effective.  They were adding a little humor to the situation and I appreciated that.  

That’s what social media is all about.

It’s not about getting out your virtual megaphone and yelling, hoping people will listen to you.

It’s about listening to your customers or the people talking about your brand and engaging with them; providing value to them whenever possible.

Did the Mailbox team provide value to me?  No, but they engaged with me and showed they were listening to their customers.

I appreciated that and it’s a big reason why I’m telling people how awesome this app is.

Yes, I’m happy to report I got access after only five days.  And, it’s been worth the wait.

Are you listening to and engaging with your customers on social media?  

If not, it’s time to start.


(photo credit: David Hilowitz)