Thursday, December 31, 2009

Why are Associations Not Using Social Media for Direct Response?

Associations love looking at case studies from for-profit companies that have been successful in growing their business using social media. The technology that many associations have been really looking at lately is twitter and when doing so they point to companies like Dell and California Tortilla as companies that are doing it right. To me what these companies, and many others, are doing is using a new medium to implement traditional direct response marketing.

I follow both of these companies on twitter and the majority of what I receive from them is reminders about special limited time offers and/or reminders about ways I can use their "membership" program to my advantage. I do not see how this is any different than using a direct mail package, an email or even a phone call or fax to get people to purchase something yet I get the feeling that many marketers feel like these companies are truly breaking new ground.

Am I missing something? I thought that part of the value of social media is creating community. Are these companies doing that? Or are they forming a community of people that are simply looking for a good price or a discount from a certain corporate entity? To me it seems like the second option but I would love to hear your thoughts. Regardless of whether what companies like Dell and CalTort are doing is actually building community and building engagement they are successfully growing revenues using special limited time offers in social media. Association professionals are watching this and seeing the method achieve results yet I do not see many associations doing what they are doing. Many associations are now using twitter and Facebook and other technologies to start conversations and inform their audiences.

What I don't see them doing is using social media to truly drive response. I have only heard of a few organizations that have used limited time discounts or special benefits in tweets and Facebook postings. I think it would be great if like California Tortilla an association had double rewards Tuesday where members would get 2 books for the price of 1. Or if, like Dell, they would tweet out special discounts on products and services that the membership would value. These types of things need to be done strategically but they are easy to implement with the technology we have today. Why are associations not doing more of this? I can't figure it out. Can you?



  1. Hi Scott and Kevin - just read your post. Although I agree that most of what California Tortilla does is to drive traffic into our stores, we have indeed made a great effort to engage our customers.

    In addition to special discounts we use twitter and facebook to talk to customers about experiences at the store level(including apologizing for the occasional store level mistake). We solicit opinions on new product offerings, conduct polls & contests and let brand fanatics express their Caltort love. We even let the fans name our current promotion - The $5 Fiesta.

    We have tried to take down that 4th wall in our social media and engage our customers so that they feel like they are "in on it" and part of a great community.

    Thanks for the mentioning us anyway - not sure if any of that applies to association marketing but wanted to explain our philosophy a little better. Have a great New Year.

    Stacey Kane
    Director of Marketing
    California Tortilla

  2. Hi Stacey,

    Thanks for commenting. I truly appreciate your spelling out your social media strategy. It really sounds well thought out and comprehensive.

    I was not knocking the parts of your social media tactics I addressed in my original post. I actually think what you are doing is very smart and wish more associations were using similar tactics.

    Happy 2010!