12 best practices of successful social media promotions 0

Posted on January 05, 2013 by Rob Petersen





Social media promotions refer to brand building incentives and offers that gain attention through social media sites, website traffic, buzz and word of mouth. Here’s a case in point.

TortillaLand is a brand of fresh tortillas from Circle Foods found in the refrigerated section of stores like Costco, Walmart and major grocery chains, primarily on the West Coast. Distribution across the country is increasing and social media promotions are playing an important role.

Once people try TortillaLand, they swear by the fresh-baked taste and authentic eating experience (“like eating a fresh made tortilla at a restaurant”). But the brand’s low awareness and store placement in the refrigerated section, away from main Mexican food aisle, presents businesses challenges.

Since these are challenges where fans and advocates can help by spreading the word, TortillaLand has run 5 social media promotions on their Facebook Brand Page within the past year. They’ve helped increase sales +35% versus year ago, built a valuable database, taken Facebook “Likes” from 885 to 15,351 and proved a high return on investment (ROI).

Needless to say, they work. Here are the promotions:

  • Win 3 iPads; 1 for you, 2 for friends (run twice)
  • 1000 Free TortillaLand Coupons
  • 1000 Free TortillaLand Coupons for Winn Dixie
  • Cinco de Mayo Cookware Giveaway

Here are 12 best practices of successful social media promotions.

  1. DEFINE DESIRED RESULTS: Begin be being clear about what you expect. If your brand is an impulse buy or has a short buying cycle, short term sales increases are certainly possible. If it takes a number of months from first contact to conversion, consider the value a new database provides from entries and use it from re-contact and conversion.
  2. CHOOSE THE SOCIAL PROMOTION APP TO MATCH YOUR BUDGET: The software to run the promotion can cost from $200 to $5000+ so there is a budget range to meet the need of any business from a local pilate studio to a CPG company. Social promotion apps are available from companies like Wildfire,  Strutta and Votigo.
  3. CREATE A HIGH-VALUE OFFER: In promotion, the offer is king. Although high value can be a high dollar amount (like 3 iPads), you’d be surprised how high value “free” coupons are in the hands of people who love your brand.
  4. MAKE SHARING PART OF THE OFFER: If you want fans to spread the word, do something to motivate them like give a prize for them and their friends or an incentive (e.g. 10% off) is they “Like” your Facebook page.
  5. SET A RELEVANT TIME FRAME: Six to eight weeks is considered to be the right amount of time to see meaningful business results while creating urgency to act among fans
  6. SPREAD THE WORD: You have to spread the word so think of all you have available to tell fans who will tell their friends and so on – like email lists, Facebook Fans, Twitter Followers. your company blog. Social media sharing generally increases outreach by 33%+.
  7. ESTABLISH RULES FOR ENGAGEMENT: Post frequently on social networks (3+ times/week) but look closely to see when and where you are getting the most engagement (e.g. comments, “Like,” Shares, RT’s). Engage when you are getting response; Pull back and look someplace else when you’re not.
  8. INTEGRATE INTO THE MARKETING MIX AND INCLUDE MOBILE: Social media promotions should be part of brand communications and featured on your website. 43% of social media users say they access their social networks by mobile devices and 20% of visits to a website, on average, are from mobile devices. Not all promotion apps are mobile friendly but generally do offer a mobile alternative. Don’t overlook mobile and be clear with fans about mobile entries – “here’s how to enter from your mobile device…”
  9. BUILD A DATABASE: A valuable asset of any social media promotion is the database that comes from entry forms. In the case of TortillaLand, it is now a major business building tool. It has been segmented by state. It is used to reward fans, ask for their help with specific items in specific grocery chains and is used for survey research.
  10. LOOK FOR UPTAKE FROM SWEEPSTAKES AND COUPON BLOGGERS: Many people underestimate the media impressions that come from sweepstakes and coupon blogger. Coupon bloggers generate major traffic, have significant followings and are sophisticated internet marketers. This is another reason to create a high-value offer. So it has appeals to them and their audiences.
  11. SET ASIDE SOME PROMOTION FUNDS “JUST IN CASE”: Interest and entries is likely to peak at the start and near the end. If needed, save some funds, not a lot, for Facebook Ads or Facebook Promoted Posts. They can have a strong impact.
  12. DON’T FORGET THE POST-PROMOTION PERIOD: Once the promotion is over, the communication isn’t. Announce the winner quickly and don’t leave fans waiting. Consider an interview with the winner in a blog and e-mail to humanize the event. Survey your database as to what other offers, incentives or news is most relevant and motivating to learn for the next time.

Social media promotions don’t run themselves. You have to be involved but the learning, results and ROI can be very rewarding.

If you’re interested in trying TortillaLand fresh tortillas, here’s where you can find a store in your area. If you think this type of thinking can help your business, here’s where you can find out more about social promotions.

Do these best practices demonstrate the value of social media promotions for your brand?

7 ways Facebook helped a town weather Hurricane Sandy 11

Posted on November 04, 2012 by Rob Petersen




Hurricane Sandy

The need to keep a community informed, connected and calm in a crisis has not been felt more this year than in mid-Atlantic and Northeast states devastated by Hurricane Sandy.

In the town of Connecticut where I live, roughly two years ago, a Facebook brand page was started: New Canaan Office of Emergency Management. It’s mission: “To protect the lives and property of the citizens; and prepare for emergencies, coordinate emergency response and recovery, and collect and disseminates emergency information.” Did they live up to their word?

Hurricane Sandy caused 68% in this mid-sized Connecticut town to be without power, 132 downed wires, 140 roads closed, serious electrical fires, one that trapped firefighters, and flooding. Then, there were reports of price gorging on water and gas by local merchants, scams and rogue FEMA agents.

Yet, during a time of hardship, anxiety and worry, “Likes” for the OEM went from 2054 to 2826. Why? Their demonstration of care and commitment replaced as atmosphere of chaos and crisis.

New Canaan Office of Emergency Management

How did they do it? Here are 7 ways Facebook was used by the OEM to weather Hurricane Sandy.

1. PUT TIMELINESS AS A FIRST PRIORITY: Every post to the OEM was answered within a short time even if it wasn’t the desired response.

Hurricane Sandy post

2, LET PICTURES TELL A 1000 WORDS: Photos were posted multiple times a day

OEM Hurricane Sandy pictures

3. USED APPS TO REPORT ON EVERY NEIGHBORHOOD: Google Maps App was a fixtures that showed what was going on every street. In this map, the red pins are downed wires on roads; the green pins are downed trees. This is the map 5 days after the hurricane. At first, it was much more dense with red and green pins as well as yellow pins for fires.

Google Maps

4. PUT A FACE TO THE POSTS: The name, Mike Handler, stood behind every post.

Mike Handler OEM Facebook Post

5. LOOKED OUT FOR ONE ANOTHER: When the underside of humanity showed up, the OEM quickly stepped in.

OEM Hurricane Sandy Post

6. PRODUCED CALM BY DEMONSTRATING CARE AND COMMITMENT. Gratitude started to be the subject of people’s posts.

OEM Hurricane Sandy Thanks

7. SOCIAL MEDIA PROVED FASTER THAN THE NEWS MEDIA: Every major news outlet in the area turned to the OEM for the latest activity and update. Their “news” was often what the OEM had already reported.

Many town  in New Jersey and Long Island endured much worse devastation but the hurricane hurt this town. It is equally clear the Office of Emergency Management helped this town and proved a “best practices” in crisis management of how it can be replicated by others.

By the way, that’s Mike with the real FEMA agents.

Could you use an OEM on Facebook in your community?

Mike Handler


How social media helped CPG company increase sales +35% 1

Posted on October 28, 2012 by Rob Petersen




TortillaLand growth rate

Founded in 1983, San Diego-based Circle Foods, LLC makes and markets TortillaLand, a fresh tortilla that cooks in 60 seconds, along with other ethnic foods. Three years ago, Circle Foods doubled its plant and manufacturing capabilities as the result of growing consumer acceptance and retail distribution.

Available throughout the West Coast, Southwest and Southeast in major grocery chains like Ralph’s and Vons, Winn Dixie as well as Costco and Walmart, many consumers love TortillaLand’s taste and naturalness once they’ve tried them. But the brand has low awareness compared to category mainstays, whose products are pre-cooked and processed.

In addition, because TortillaLand requires refrigeration at retail, consumers can’t expect to find it in the same place in every store. Seeking to leverage its success with a core group of loyal brand users and expand that success to new customers, Circle Foods turned to social media marketing, starting with food bloggers who were already talking enthusiastically among themselves about the TortillaLand brand.

In a recent interview, Circle Foods’ Charlene M. Richardson, Director of Marketing, explained how this social media recipe has fared.

BARNRAISERS: How did Circle Foods’ involvement in social media begin?

CHARLENE: Needless to say, we love our fans. So we’re always listening to them. With a little digging in the blogosphere, we discovered that major cooking bloggers were writing about us…even taking pictures of the cooking process on their smartphones and posting them for all to see. Fans were talking about us. Someone who lives in Omaha wrote on our Facebook page, “We drove over 90 miles to purchase them. SO WORTH IT!” The point being, we looked for and found TortillaLand brand advocates. Once we found them, we built relationships and then rewarded them for their support

BARNRAISERS: How does this reward system work?

CHARLENE: From our social media activities, we have a database of close to 20,000 people. We’ve segmented them by state. From time to time, we mail—yes, snail mail—coupons, offers and premiums to express our thanks.  We also have a blogger relations effort. We examine the traffic to cooking bloggers who write about us, the size of their social media following and geography. Because cooking bloggers are publishing new recipes almost every day, many have large and loyal followings. Our efforts work so well that our advocates have mobilized to help us when, for example, we need to spread the word on a line extension (say, corn tortilla) or attend a sampling event at Walmart or other retail outlets.

BARNRAISERS: Which social media platforms are you using now?

CHARLENE: We have a very strong social media presence. We publish a blog on every week. We have an active Facebook community of 11,000+ fans with whom we communicate every day. Right now, we are engaging with fans through a social sweepstakes: Win 3 iPads (1 for you; 2 for friends), plus sample packs of TortillaLand flour and corn tortillas and tortilla cookware. So we engage in social sharing and fun. We also have a YouTube channel, a Twitter community, Pinterest page and a few other outposts as well.

BARNRAISERS: What have been the results?

CHARLENE: Sales say it all. Business is up 35% versus year ago. Trade success has been critical, but it is undeniable that social media is a strong contributor. Our sales increases track directly to increases in Facebook Fans, then to YouTube video views and website visits where consumers can use a Store Locator to find the nearest store or download a Product Request Form to take to a retailer, which our fans do.

BARNRAISERS: What social media resources do you have to do the work?

CHARLENE: We have a team of four people from the outside, either from an agency or consultant, and interns from time to time. We meet every couple of weeks to review activity, metrics and decide actions. What makes it work is the consistency of everyone’s involvement, the generation of new ideas and the action orientation.

BARNRAISERS: What advice do you have for a company that is considering or is involved in social media?

CHARLENE: Ask fundamental business questions. What are the desired results? Who do you want to attract? Where do you find them? What are the measurements that matter? If you take the time to ask and answer these questions, the right path for your business using social media starts to reveal itself.

We’re proud that this success story for TortillaLand is also one of our own and that we’ve been with Circle Foods since the beginning of this journey.

Do you think your business could benefit from the principle’s Charlene and her team are practicing? Are you interested in seeing a +35% increase in sales for your business?


26 social media secrets Skittles knows 5

Posted on August 20, 2012 by Rob Petersen


The Skittles website attracts roughly 23,000 U.S. unique visitors/month, while the Skittles Facebook Page attracts 320,000 visitors – 14 times as many. The Skittles Facebook Page also has 22,750,000+ people who “Like” the brand.

Is this a fluke or a sign of the future? Are Facebook brand pages the new brand websites?

On the Skittles Twitter page, they are tweeting: “Go ahead and whisper your secrets to your Skittles. They’ll never tell.” Here are 26 social media secrets Skittles must know.


Skittles Facebook Page


  1. 1 out of every 5 minutes people spend online are spent on social networks in 2012; up from 1 out of every 20 minutes in 2007
  2. People spend more time social networking on Facebook than doing anything on sites owned by Google, Microsoft or Yahoo, the web’s three most heavily trafficked properties
  3. 14.6% of internet users’ time is captured by Facebook compared to a combined 2% for all other social networking sites
  4. 423 minutes are spent each month by Facebook users social networking
  5. 80% of US social network users prefer to connect with brands through Facebook
  6. 47% of people are somewhat likely to purchase from a brand that they follow or “Like”
  7. 40% of the time people spend on Facebook is spent on “News Feed.” Once you “Like” a brand, their updates appear on your “News Feed” as  a brand reminder; something a brand’s website doesn’t do
  8. Facebook Fans are 28% more likely to continue using a brand than users who are non-fans
  9. Fans are 41% more likely to recommend a brand to their friends than users who are non-fans
  10. $71.84 is the average additional amount Facebook Fans of a brand spend each year versus non-fans
  11. 20% to 40% more spending occurs from people who follow a brand through their social networks
  12. 40% of consumers prefer social log-ins over creating a new/guest account
  13. 15.2% of all U.S. display ads across the web are now socially-enabled, up from 8.2% in November 2011
  14. 40.9% and 26.9% of socially-enabled ads now occur for the CPG Food and Grocery and Movies categories, respectively
  15. 10X more people “engage” (either like, share, comment, post, check-in) with a brand on Facebook than “click-thru” on a online display ad
  16. 31% of traffic to a brand website comes from brand social network sites
  17. Top 1000 brands on Facebook are able to deliver an actual amplification of 81x when their efforts are maximized
  18. 90% of online consumers trust recommendations from people they know
  19. 70% trust unknown users, 27% trust experts
  20. 14% trust advertising
  21. 8% trust celebrities
  22. 75% of people don’t believe that companies tell the truth in advertisements
  23. 70% of bloggers are organically talking about brands on their blog
  24. 20% of Twitter updates are either requests for product info, or responses to these requests
  25. 20% of consumers use social media to get a customer service response
  26. 21% of social media users are willing to spend more for great customer service versus only 13% for the general population

These stats come from comScore, WOMMA, HubSpot and Amercian Express. These are great companies.  BarnRaisers is grateful to be associated with them and for the information they make available to help businesses make smarter decisions.

Do you think Facebook brand pages are the new brand websites?



What 21 experts say Facebook will do post IPO 0

Posted on May 20, 2012 by Rob Petersen

“Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.” James Baldwin

The 2 minute video shows Facebook and its founder in the early days. What will they do now as Facebook begins its journey as a public company; one with 901 million active users and one of the 25 biggest companies in the country?

Here’s what 21 experts have to say:


  • Our mission isn’t to be a public company. Our mission is to make the world more open and connected. – Mark Zuckerberg
  • I don’t think it’s in their DNA to want to be a public company. I’m hoping that they don’t change in such a way that they become more risk averse, that they focus too much on the bottom line. In order to stay relevant, they need to keep that entrepreneurial spirit – Greg Borrud, CEO Seismic Games
  • It will be hard for all of the newly minted millionaire not to feel that they have arrived, and their journey is over. Google faced this problem after their IPO and managed aggressively to mitigate it. – Nat Burgess, Geek Wire


  • Their mission now is to “monetize” the business. Facebook has plans to turn its users into customers. – Bianco Bosker (Huffington Post)
  • Google gets about $30 per user in annual revenue; movie service Netflix does even better — $148.20 per year. And Facebook? A mere $5.02 per user per year. The challenge the company faces is bringing that revenue per user number up significantly, without alienating the user base the way ­Myspace did. – Barry Ritholtz, Washington Post
  • With a market capitalization of $104.9 billion. Subtract out its assets like real estate, servers, and cash from that total value of the company, and Facebook’s entire advertising business is worth $82.3 billion. Dividing that by the roughly 900 million active users that the site last disclosed, I calculate that each of those individuals’ advertising value is $91.44. – Andy Greenburg, Forbes
  • It could be like PayPal or going to eBay. You could start to use Facebook as a wallet for offline transactions. Facebook could become a payment platform. – Clara Shih, CEO of Hearsay Social
  • There will be more pressure for it to monetize its platform, but it will have to be careful not to put its users off as they are its most valuable asset. They must ensure brands that use its platform that they are posting content that is engaging – Jan Rezab, Socialbaker


  • Facebook’s IPO has been called a “watershed moment” for the industry. That’s because it truly legitimizes social media for businesses. As a result, C-level executives are going to be putting more money toward social media and marketing. – Dave Kerpen, Mashable
  • People come to Google looking for something. Often it is something they want to buy. Users come to Facebook to interact with their friends. The ads don’t answer their search question. On the contrary, they get in the way of enjoying the social experience which is where Facebook needs to always be the most relevant. – Nat Burgess, Geek Wire
  • In order for Facebook to kind of make good on evaluation, it has to grow its revenues by 25 percent a year, at least. Most people expect Facebook to attract a lot of advertisers to be kind of a good platform for advertising. The question is whether it’ll be an unprecedentedly good platform. And  it’s unclear if it’s going to be able to do that. – Farhad Manjoo, Slate magazine


  • Facebook is the best positioned to offer the first browser-level mobile development platform. In fact, Facebook just announced it. It’s called the App Center [and] lets you install apps on Facebook’s mobile site. Facebook’s investment in Instagram and Glancee further demonstrates its dedication to winning in mobile. – Justin Kistner, Webtrends
  • The most important thing is they should figure out what are the areas that are core. The areas that are core, they have to make acquisitions. They would want to own those. Mobile is a prime example — which explains that Instagram buy. – John Malloy, venture capitalist at BlueRun Ventures


  • One upside to the IPO in this regard is that any decision to change privacy settings (which they have done many times) will be public knowledge as they will have to share that information with their stockholders. – Mary Alexa, Consumer Bell
  • Facebook will have to talk more openly with its users; surprising, last-minute changes to the social network’s privacy settings will be poison for the company’s stock price. – Mario Grobholz,
  • The challenge in maintaining the level of trust required to keep people on Facebook won’t be an easy path. Facebook is all about sharing data. As much as that delights us, and we become avid users of social media platforms, it’s challenging our social norms. –  Trevor Hughes, CEO, International Association of Privacy Professionals


  • Facebook is about to go into hyperdrive to make sure the data it collects more effectively services the advertisers to deeply penetrate the lives of its user base. They can’t grow their business unless they extract more data. – Jeff Chester, Executive DirectorCenter for Digital Democracy
  • Selling data from the back end presents its own problems. Facebook has to let purchasers and investors know what kind of saleable demographic trends and correlations they can mine from their unprecedented data stores—but the more valuable that information seems to be, the more Facebook will draw the scrutiny of regulators and the ire of users. – D.E. Wittkower, Wall Street Journal


  • Expect to see Facebook make several key acquisitions to extend its platform, especially in the areas of mobile and gamification – Debra Donston-Miller, The Brainyard
  • Facebook’s got essentially the “Brewster’s Millions” problem. They’ve got so much money already, with just the cash that they’re throwing off from operations, that they don’t actually need the money that they’re going to raise in this IPO. I would love to see Facebook get into TV, I would love to see Facebook get into the payments space. – Rocky Agrawal, independent analyst


  • Last year, Google was the company stepping all over Facebook’s turf with the launch of Google Plus and the social layer it represented. Will Facebook start to push into Google’s information organization and discovery territory in 2012 or 2013? And for what it’s worth, Google’s actually up 7 percent since the Facebook’s IPO. – Alexix Madigral, The Atalantic

To explain all the fact and figures that go into determining a digital company with a 105 million valuation and who get what, here is an great infographic from Anson Alex.

I appreciate this great advice, counsel and wisdom for the experts and I’d appreciate yours. What are some steps you think Facebook will take post IPO?

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