Blend of High-Tech, Low-Tech Social Media May Be Best

Ann All

Even when high-tech alternatives are available, low-tech approaches sometimes work best. And a combination of the two may be the most effective option of all.


Witness the internal social networks, virtual environments and other high-tech collaboration tools used by IBM, Intel and other companies to facilitate interaction among their employees. These tools are great, especially for colleagues who may be located on different continents. But sometimes there's just no substitute for good, old-fashioned personal interaction.


In much the same way, a note written by online retailer Adagio Teas and included in a product shipment made a big impression on Computerworld blogger Mitch Wagner. (He doesn't say if the note was handwritten, but I am assuming it was since an earlier post of Wagner's references a handwritten note from Adagio. At the very least, it seems probable it wasn't an obvious form letter.) Writes Wagner:


Nobody else has ever done that. I buy a lot of online retail, I've been doing it a long time, I blog about my experiences occasionally, and nobody's ever sent me a note like that before. It shows they're paying attention to their customers (one of whom happens to be a tech blogger -- me).


This element of old-fashioned communication is facilitated by a system in which Adagio runs automated Google searches to ferret out mentions of its products and flags those accounts to add notes like those received by Wagner to their shipments.Those folks tend to sing the praises of Adagio on their blogs and via social channels like Twitter and Facebook, which results in increased sales for the company.


Among the other savvy uses of social media Wagner mentions in his post:

  • Folks placing an order on Adagio's site are offered an option to send a gift certificate for Adagio purchases to their Facebook friends, one that includes a product discount. Writes Wagner: "I like that it's a gift certificates that benefits the recipients, not merely an announcement that the sender just bought something, which many online retailers do. Adagio's method is classier." The company also offers a tool that allows bloggers to embed these gift certificate links on their sites.
  • Adagio offers a Twitter-based tool for tracking shipments. The company has found many tea buyers keep following Adagio's account even after receiving their shipments.


Sounds like Adagio has this whole social media thing figured out, right? Not so much. Wagner includes a quote from Ilya Kreymerman, Adagio's social media manager, that reminds me very much of a quote from Jeffrey Kalmikoff, chief creative officer of Chicago-based indie T-shirt company Threadless, that I cited in my post Maybe Nobody Knows How to Leverage Social Media for Business.


Here's Kreymerman's quote:


Twitter has interesting potential. Social media as a whole has potential. I don't think anyone has made good use of it. A couple of years from now we'll have a more defined answer for you. Now we're just playing, trying to figure out what works and what doesn't.


And here's Kalmikoff's:


Nobody has any idea of what they're doing on social media. It's just how comfortable your company is in taking risk. Some things can pay off; some things can fall flat.


The two social media lessons for companies of all sizes, derived from the experiences of these two small companies:

  • Make social communications as personal as possible. Consider advancing beyond Twitter or Facebook to a personal note or phone call. If "everyone" is using social media, it's no longer a differentiator. As Wagner's experience proves, not many companies bother to write a note or pick up the phone.
  • Don't be afraid to experiment. Don't let these fears of social media hold you back.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Mar 10, 2010 2:40 PM Ilya Kreymerman Ilya Kreymerman  says:

Thanks for writing an article about us as well as posting it thrice to twitter, although I assume that was more a hiccup than intentional

And for the record, the note included in Mitch's order was indeed hand-written. We think this is much more effective than a form letter.


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