What Does Social Media Have to do with a Leaf Blower?

In his book “Socialnomics” Erik Qualman writes, “To effectively leverage the social graph (the interconnectedness of social media users), every company needs to understand that they need to make their information easily transferable” (p. 14). Let’s write this another way: To put to best use the networks of social media, companies need to understand that they must make their information easy to share. Huh, simple, but SMART.

I would say companies are figuring this out. Have you noticed how many opportunities you are offered online to click a button and post that you had an interaction with a company/product/post? It was bizarre, but again my readings this week tied into a recent experience. My husband decided to purchase a gas powered leaf-blower online both for the savings and ease of the purchase. (Read: Fifty bucks cheaper and he didn’t want to leave the recliner.) My husband, who only started on a computer a few short years ago, ventured onto Amazon.com, read the reviews and easily completed the transaction. What shocked him was that after the purchase, he was invited to click a button that would post the following to his Facebook page: “Eric just purchased a Husqvarna, 28cc, 170 MPH, 2-Stroke, Gas-Powered, Handheld Gas Blower from Amazon.com.” (I know, holy souped-up leaf blower! FYI: leaves wreak havoc on the job site of a concrete crew.)

The hubs didn’t accept Amazon’s offer to post his purchase to his Facebook page, but how smart that he was given the option. Qualman explains why, “The average person on Facebook has 150 friends – there is a lot of viral potential when one person posts a story or video.” All it takes is one or two friends to hit “like” or comment, and then the post is visible to their approximately 150 connections, and so on and so forth. In the event that no one comments Amazon isn’t out advertising dollars either. It really is a win/win for them.

In my current position I have been producing email newsletters. Newsletters are rather hard to get excited about anyway, but after last week’s Qualman readings that said emails themselves are on the way out, I have had an increasingly difficult time! Is the fact that e-newsletters are so stagnant exactly why? They are too single-sided? They are currently a grocery-list of upcoming events and relevant topics. This may not offer any significant reasons for the reader to even think about passing them on! My new plan is to include a section that has comments provided from the very-connected e-newsletter readership. Possibly if readers are also part-author, the e-newsletters will be more interesting and more “post-worthy.” Oh, if only I can make the e-newsletter as cool as a new, souped-up leaf blower.

Posted on September 30, 2012, in Social Media. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. It is smart of companies to offer to post sales on your Facebook page. Indeed, if your friend sees that you bought a new gas powered toy, perhaps that friend will want to keep up and also go buy that toy (or leaf-blower!). I have had similar experinces when shopping on-line–except I don’t have Facebook. Sometimes all the popups can be annoying when you just want to get something accomplished. However, I certainly understand why companies want to utilize social media–it is free advertising after all.

  2. Great example of Amazon using (or at least trying to use) Facebook to promote its products. It really is a very good marketing move. If your husband had posted his purchase to his Facebook page, several of his friends could have been reminded of their need for a leaf blower, and could have easily checked them out on Amazon. I typically elect not to share my purchases with my Facebook friends, but there are A LOT of people out there who do share these types of updates!

  3. Jodee, it’s funny that you mention all of the “share this with your friends” options that have been popping up. I nearly ruined my son’s birthday surprise by posting that I’d purchased him a Meep from Amazon. He is my facebook friend and so are a couple of his school friends. I can just imagine him going to school and a friend saying “Dude! Your mom bought you a Meep?!” Ugh.
    I’ve also noticed that whenever I read a story on Yahoo! News, it tracks and shows my friends that I’ve read it. Not sure if I like that – I read some pretty stupid sh..stuff. Just because I like to make SOME things everybody’s business doesn’t mean I want to make EVERYTHING everybody’s business!

    Lana, yes, it could have reminded others they need a leafblower. Or if they are like my husband and his friends, it could have prompted him to “need” a bigger leafblower than the other guy bought. 🙂

  4. Ooh how will you solicit the comments for the new section? I think it’s a great idea, but could you also cross-post the link to the newsletter to the UW-Stout Twitter feed or their FB page? I know we all just got an email about Stout’s social media presence, so I would hope the people who run those accounts would be open to department submissions [much like the daily email]. Just thinking out loud 🙂

    • Good question – I don’t know, I haven’t thought it all through yet! Ideas on feedback avenues? I am on the cusp of launching a LinkedIn group that I was hoping to link too, but I LOVE the idea of utilizing Stout’s existing social media. I hadn’t thought of that… seriously. Please, everybody, continue to think out loud on this for me!

      • It looks like the @uwstoutnews twitter account is already cross posting items to their Facebook page, so you could try & talk to whoever manages those accounts or (if allowed) create your own department account? Just thinking out loud. You’ll also need to consider audience…and perhaps LinkedIn is a better fit albeit not as social a space in my opinion.

  5. Wow! Posting purchases to Facebook? Talk about conspicuous consumption! I understand that it’s an amazing marketing opportunity and can help the company make money. I admire the clever thinking it takes to come up with these ideas, but I also admire the people who say “no” to going along with this type of product promotion. Kudos to your husband.

    When I was a kid, my mom was a rural mail carrier. She put over ninety miles on her car each day, and the stopping at each mailbox put a lot of wear on the car’s transmission and brakes. So every year she traded in for a new car before she completely wore the other one out. However, she was so concerned about people thinking she was showing off, that she always bought the same model and the same color. Buick Skylark, silver. A very nondescript car and color. She hoped no one would notice the purchase.

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