For a few years now, companies have heard that blogs are great tools to
better reach and understand their customers. But at some point, the
rubber needs to meet the road, and actual bottom-line results need to
be examined. So are any companies actually seeing growth coming from
their blogging efforts? You better believe they are!
First, let's start big. Big companies come with big weight and are slow to move. But even companies as big as Dell are seeing positive changes from blogging. In 2005, popular blogger Jeff Jarvis unleashed a firestorm in the blogosphere when he began blogging about the problems he was having with his Dell, and how the company's customer service was sorely lacking. The episode was capped when Dell, who wasn't blogging at the time, issued a statement saying that they refuse to respond to complaints from bloggers. This lit the spark that would become 'Dell Hell', and at its height, 49% of blog posts about Dell, were negative.
Dell realized the error of its ways, and began embracing blogging and bloggers. Today, the Austin company has one of the best reputations for effectively utilizing social media for communicating with its customers. And what does Jeff Jarvis, the blogger that launched Dell Hell, think about the company's transformation? In the fall of 2007 Jarvis wrote a feature article for Business Week
lauding the company for its remarkable turnaround, and added that after meeting with Dell, he discovered that negative blog posts about the computer had fallen from 49%, down to 22%.
But what about smaller companies? Stormhoek was a tiny South African winery when the company began working with UK blogger Hugh MacLeod
to develop a social media strategy. MacLeod started working with Stormhoek in May of 2005, and by the end of the year, the winery's sales had doubled. Besides dipping its toes in the blogging waters, in 2005, Stormhoek also launched an interesting campaign where it gave away 100 free bottles of wine to 100 bloggers in the UK, Ireland, and France. The bloggers were under no obligation to write about the wine or Stormhoek, but many did both, and the company's awareness among bloggers skyrocketed.
In 2006, Stormhoek expanded on the 'give wine away to bloggers' idea, by setting up 'Geek Dinners', where bloggers around the United States throw their own parties, with Stormhoek providing the wine for free. This idea just further raised Stormhoek's presence in the blogosphere.
So what's the end result from all this for Stormhoek? Hugh MacLeod, speaking at last year's South by Southwest festival, stated that before Stormhoek started blogging and involving bloggers in its marketing efforts, that the winery sold around 40,000 cases of wine a year. When MacLeod spoke at SXSW in March of 2007, he stated that the company was at that point selling 40,000 cases of wine a WEEK.
Other examples: In the fall of 2007, Donna Lyons-Miller had this to say about how blogging was affecting her business, GourmetStation.com
"Our business is really growing nicely on a very very small marketing budget, and I attribute a lot of that (growth) to the blog. In 06 our growth was 30% and in 07 year-to-date it's 40%."
Finally, a company can benefit from blogging, even if the company itself doesn't blog. Tim Jackson is a brand manager for Masi bicycles, and his personal blog is the very popular Masi-Guy
. And even though his 'personal' blog is his own and not Masi's, he still feels that it has significantly impacted Masi's bottom-line:
"In the time I've been with the company, within the first two years we have doubled sales.
And obviously it would be nice to say that it's all about the blog,
because I'm such a blog proponent, but I know that that's been a key
ingredient to it, because it's allowed me to reach people."
The hype has swirled around the potential of blogs as a marketing tool to help grow companies and small businesses for years now. Finally, companies are beginning to report results that validate the hype.
January 16, 2008
Mack Collier is a social media consultant, trainer and speaker. He has been actively immersed in social media since 2005, and in that time, has helped advise, teach and consult with businesses of all shapes and sizes on how they can better connect with their customers via these amazing tools and sites. While being passionate about the social media space, what truly excites Mack is the human connections that can result from the proper use of these social tools. His motto is "Don't focus on the tools, focus on the connections that the tools help facilitate." His goal is to help his clients create those connections with their customers, and nuture them into relationships that help grow their bottom line.
His social media 'homebase' is The Viral Garden, which in 3 years time Mack has grown into an influential marketing/social media blog with a monthly readership of over 175,000. He is also a frequent contributor to the website Marketing Profs, as well as the marketing blog Daily Fix, and small business blog Search Engine Guide. His writings have been referenced in several mainstream publications and websites, including The Washington Post, MSNBC.com, Ad Age, CNET, and The Boston Globe.
Mack is also a requested speaker and has presented at some of the top social media conferences and events, including South By Southwest Interactive, Marketing Profs Digital Marketing Mixer, and Small Business Marketing Unleashed. He is also passionate about teaching companies how to use social media sites and tools more effectively, and offers training and seminars privately to companies, in addition to his public speaking schedule.
You can learn more information about Mack's social media training and consulting services here. If you need a social media speaker for your event, or want to know where Mack will be speaking next, click here. If you want to email Mack, click here.
Mack wrote this bio. The third-person thingie is just for fun.