Say you are a small business looking to meet the demands of the holiday rush. You want to put out a variety pack of your new line so people can sample all your best products. The problem is, your automated machines and laborers cannot make variety packs easily or efficiently. You could pay your staff overtime or bring on temporary help, but the Return on Investment (ROI) on that option puts you in the red. Most business owners in this economy faced with that scenario would just bail on the idea altogether; It is too risky and too expensive. Not so for a small brewery in Milwaukee. They decided to do something revolutionary: Ask for help via Social.
Jim McCabe (@mkebrew) runs Milwaukee Brewing Company (@MKEbrewco). He was talking with some design folks at the Translator Agency (@translatorxd) and mentioned his upcoming push for a holiday ‘Pot Luck’ sample pack of his craft beers. Mark Fairbanks, (@MarkFairbanks) and Cindy Thomas (@deziner) run Translator and also host a bi-weekly Social Media think tank called #xdLab. During the #xdLab hours anyone can drop in and share business ideas, discuss the latest happenings in Social or just work from the Translator offices. Mark and Cindy decided to extend their Social community to Milwaukee Brewing Company and ask their followers for help. There was some initial buzz about it in the Twitter streams and a few people discussed the remote #xdLab and helping out a brewery. Adding to the buzz was ‘pot luck’ snack table and a few samples of free beer.
To the amazement of Jim McCabe and the Translator team, about 20 people showed up to the brewery to help out. There was a remarkable assembly line of volunteers helping to box, sort, stuff, seal and stack the variety packs of the craft beers. In just a few hours over a dozen pallets of assorted cases of beer were packaged and wrapped, ready for delivery. Jim Raffel (@raffel), the owner of a design and printing company in Milwaukee, called it a modern day ‘Social Media Barn Raising’. Simply put, a small business needed help, other small business owners, independents and plain old nice people responded to the Social Media call for help and got the job done. The cost to Milwaukee Brewing Company was zero. Try to calculate that ROI.
As an added bonus, a local reporter, Justin Williams with the Fox News station (@Fox6Now) showed up with a camera crew. Incidentally, Justin and the local Fox News are both very avid Social Media fans and participants. They heard of the amazing thing happening today and just had to report on the event. The whole story will play out in a feature piece on the 10:00 PM news!
So a local small business in need of help gets free labor, completes a monumental task, creates more exposure for their products with the variety packs (headed to stores today), generates free press, creates some buzz on Social for the project and has a great feel-good story of people helping people. This is Social ROI and I’m glad I was there to help (@WilliamCaraher).
So many times business owners, executives and Chief Marketing Officers get hung up on the dollars and sense aspects of Social Media. They are looking for the raw numbers: # of fans, # of followers, how many likes, the reach of their Tweets, etc. They want to measure the analytics of engagement, report on the conversions and graph their funnels. Sure, all those things are important, but when it comes down to it, Social is about a community and real people. If you are genuine and you participate in the online communities and create offline relationships, you will be amazed at what happens when you need help. With Social, truly amazing things can happen. When someone asks you about Social ROI, tell them this story and ask them if they still want you to focus on the raw data or if building relationships and extending the community sounds somewhat important. Incidentally, Jim McCabe (the owner of the brewery), only has 95 followers on Twitter. #ROIisNotAboutTheNumbers