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03.04.10



Using Social Media To Stand Out In Your Market

By Mike Moran

When we think about social media, we think about big companies doing big things–Dell seems to be everyone's poster child for social media success these days. But a lot of the real action is taking place in small businesses. While it is true that it is the rare small business that is succeeding with social media, the stories have been around for a while, with more emerging every day. If you are missing the range of social media employed by small business, open your eyes. You might see a Kogi Korean taco truck.

If you're not in Los Angeles, you probably haven't heard of Kogi Korean BBQ, but it's developed a cult following there. LA is known for its taco trucks, but Kogi (pronounced with a hard "g") has a few twists. First, its food is a combination of Korean and Mexican flavors, and it uses social media to alert fans as to where the trucks will be. Blog posts and tweets alert fans where the trucks are going, and even solicit help with finding the best parking spots in the neighborhood. A tweet might also let waiting customers know when a truck is running late. From humble beginnings, Kogi has expanded to four trucks, each of which serves hundreds of patiently waiting customers at each stop. Newsweek has called Kogi "America's first viral restaurant." (Social media suggestions from customers even named the trucks.)

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But what do you do if you don't have a truck? I mean, if there's no interesting news bulletins about where you're going to be, what do you say all day? Just ask Ramon de Leon, a Domino's owner-operator from the Chicago area. I shared a panel with Ramon at a recent event in Amsterdam and he explained how he interacts with his community on social media. He responds to every mention of his restaurants online, once personally making an apology video for an unhappy customer he posted on YouTube that has received almost 100,000 views. He works with charities to promote days where the charity sends someone to work in a Domino's store for the day and the store donates part of the receipts. You can bet Ramon promotes the day before the fact on social media and posts a video afterwards.

And it's not just restaurants. Bag manufacturer Tom Bihn also uses forums and Facebook to communicate with fans, as well as Flickr and YouTube to show off its unique styles. OPEN Forum summed up the secret to Tom Bihn's social media success: "Each social media platform has unique Tom Bihn content that doesn't overlap with the other platforms the company is on, yet at the same time, they're integrated and linked to each other."

As difficult as it can be for a small business to break through the clutter to find its market, I don't understand why more don't try free social media techniques. It take some technical savvy, and certainly takes focus and time, but the payoff can be enormous for businesses that can't afford traditional advertising. Perhaps these stories will give you the inspiration you need.

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About the Author:
Copyright Mike Moran Mike Moran is an IBM Distinguished Engineer, expert on Internet marketing, and the author of Search Engine Marketing, Inc., the best-selling book on search marketing. Mike also writes the popular Biznology newsletter and blog.

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