Organization Name: Lincoln Motors, Red Truck Beer Company
Industry: Automotive, Microbrewery
Web references: Lincoln Motor Co – YouTube, Anne C. Graham, Red Truck Beer Company, Facebook, CarandDriver.com, Autonews.com, Twitter.com, bcmag.ca, 6smarketing.com, marketwatch.com, bloomberg.com, bustle.com, huffingtonpost.com, news1130.com
Today’s successful business plan includes the important staple of social media. But there is still lingering ambivalence surrounding social media. ‘To do or not to do, that is the question?’, to paraphrase the well-known expression. The critical element seems not in the ‘doing’ well, but in the continuing to do correctly. This is could be a rough road, but the end destination can be more than worth the trip. Now, I have to come clean here. Despite all the up front, face to face time and obvious opportunity I’ve had in sales, I have not really fully embraced social media. For example, I did produce a great storage design/install for an unnamed CEO, who, at the time worked for the Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, but did I tweet this out? No, because I actually worked through his assistant and never met neither the customer nor his assistant face to face at all. To me, this would have smacked of a kind of insincerity, because I we didn’t actually meet. I produced work for him, that’s it. Before you go surmising that it’s a no brainer to put that out on the social media airwaves, consider “How genuine is GENUINE”?
Who’s Ambivalent Now?
This is because the connection with the potential client needs to be authentic in order to be successful. Social media puts us in contact with others that we haven’t met, and may never meet – but now, in today’s business world this is the foot in the door for developing a network, and is now widely accepted. Anne C. Graham summarizes the mix of feelings that I experience (and very possibly you) when it comes to social media.
Anne is a successful consultant as a profit and growth expert. Her focus is on business turnarounds, event speaking and writing books. Even with all this, she herself has expressed hesitation when it comes to social media. Shooting from the hip, and being totally upfront and honest, she summarizes a checklist for customer success in social media. She states specifically that effective social media, “will add value to whoever reads it, in one of 5 ways:
- It will save them time
- It will show them how to save or make money
- It will help them solve the problems they’re grappling with (that’s why the blog post my assistant wrote caught my attention)
- It will provide some sort of feel good or entertainment value
- It will give them confidence or peace of mind.
How did I do in this article? Perhaps I saved you time by giving you a new perspective, helped solve questions you have about whether to engage in social media or not, or gave you a sense of confidence that you’re already on the right track. It Can Happen
A couple of key points here are worthy of discussing further, in particular ‘confidence or peace of mind’. This point resonates in clearly for this brand that should be explored further, Lincoln Motors. Recently, Lincoln produced and posted on various media including YouTube and Facebook, a series of videos, the first featuring Matthew McConaughey driving the SUV model MKC vehicle and uttering a monologue about the experience of driving and life. With the soothing music and well known, compelling face, McConaughey brings peace of mind to the consumer looking for a reliable, well executed vehicle. Lincoln, so the video oozes, is the brand to choose when selecting a new vehicle. The stage was set, and the success of the videos was significant, resulting in a jump in sales immediately. This would indeed confirm that a well executed plan for social media can create business success. Connecting with fans of both Lincoln and the actor created a strong response with the consumer. The remaining videos in the series experienced similar fame. Let the numbers do the talking. Specifically, the company managed a hike of 16% in MKC vehicle sales alone.
Measurable Sales Success
“Does this one come with Matthew McConaughey? “, then became the line from actual potential buyers in local dealerships. The videos permeated the everyday life of everyday consumers. What else is possible?
Let’s look at another key point that Graham referred to in her list, to “help them solve the problems they’re grappling with”. Here is another company who also connected with their customers on Twitter and is working to solve this conundrum. Red Truck Beer Company offers a place to find some local suds, and even hosts events, by launching their award winning micro brewery in Vancouver, British Columbia. They managed to catch new customers by offering new location opening prizes and a chance to watch a truck drop from a crane in celebration of their ribbon cutting ceremony. Highly unusual also sells, as this testifies. They’ve even been able to make it to the Ultimate Vancouver Craft Brewery List. And their social media plan was detailed in this article which highlighted their key events.
The creativity in the social media plans for both these companies noted above is what has significantly increased their bottom line. Refreshing, honest, genuine – these illustrated examples are all components to a successful social media campaign. But it doesn’t end there.
Ah, But Not So Transparent
The risks of a successful campaign can result in spoofing and heightened social media discussion – and this was very much the case of Lincoln’s McConaughey video series where his genuine attitude strikes a chord with his audience. It also struck the funny bone of Jim Carrey and many other mockers who spoofed his videos to great notoriety. Lincoln took it all in stride as it was not part of the original plan to be so widely recognized, but they managed it favourably. This just made their social media plan all that more successful. Notoriety, if controlled, can be surprisingly beneficial.
On the other hand, customers have no mercy and thereby creates a dire need for instant transparency or plans can fall to pieces. A less than genuine fact came to light about McConaughey made for unpleasant backlash in social media. At one point he was a co-owner of a ranch that offered hunting to animals that were in fact caged. This netted unfavorable attention on his Facebook page as well. He later became less involved with this ranch property in order to control the negative effect co-owning it created.
Back in Red Truck territory, they had their hands full too. On the campaign trail, PM Stephen Harper recently hosted a meeting at the Red Truck Brewing Company location, which resulted in a great deal of social media buzz, causing many customer to swear off the beloved suds. Red Truck came back on their Twitter feed, repeatedly clarifying that they had no Conservative party affiliation and listed the other political parties that they had hosted and/or booked. They, like Lincoln, found that humor went a long way, as they twittered, “We associate with everyone, even Habs fans. All are welcome.” It shows how Red Truck is controlling social media backlash by participating and not hiding from the truth. Bottom line, many more potential consumers were reached by this turn of events.
Clearly the social media road is littered with pitfalls, that only the well-researched will survive and thrive. How to stay in front of the posse and get noticed doesn’t generally happen by chance. Create that circle, so that people feel engaged and connected. Connected in humour, connected by the same cause, connected by honesty.
Lessons Learned: Connection is key if social media is to be successful. Connect by being genuine or connect by solving a problem – but CONNECT.
Even more critical is the need to be genuine. Leave no stone unturned on the road to a prosperous social media plan. The consumer is far reaching and often unforgiving.
Notoriety is worth it. Be prepared to roll with an unexpected turn of events and put a positive and/or humorous spin on the turn of events – and quickly.
Submitted By: Dianne McBride, SMBP Student, University of Waterloo
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If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Programme Director, Social Media for Business Performance, Waterloo.