The last social media case study in a 3-part series this week.
Sometimes, your customers should be the star of your social media show, not the brand.
That notion is at the heart of this social media case study featuring Spellbinders Paper Arts, a five year-old manufacturer of tools for the paper crafting enthusiast. If you’re looking to create the all-time greatest holiday card from scratch, Spellbinders is your outfitter.
Based in Peoria, Arizona, Spellbinders sells primarily to papercrafting stores and craft chains like Hobby Lobby. They also sell direct to consumers on the Spellbinders Web site.
Follow the Customers
Spellbinders is very active in social media marketing. They maintain a blog with ideas on how to use their products, a Facebook page, a Yahoo! Group, a Twitter account, and have nearly 50 videos on YouTube. (A Flickr gallery is forthcoming).
And this decentralized approach is a big part of the company’s social media marketing strategy, according to Vice President of Marketing Tobi Hall. “Wherever the consumer wants to be, that’s where we are,” she says. “We want all roads to eventually lead back to our Web site, and we’re redesigning it to make it much more social, but we don’t really care if our Facebook fans also are members of our Yahoo! Group. It’s about brand loyalty and recognition anywhere the consumer wants to find us.”
Hot for Teacher
Across all of their social outposts, educating customers about how to use the multitude of Spellbinders products is the objective. The blog includes how-tos such as “Wax Resist, Spellbinders Style“. The Inspiration Alley section of the Web site includes a whopping 327 ideas and instructions (think recipes for craft projects), many of them submitted by customers.
In fact, the ability to share their work is a major driver of consumer social media participation, according to Tobi. She points to the company’s recent contest to showcase a new product. The Pendants Contest yielded 91 entries from consumers, and significant awareness of this new technique. Note that the company selected finalists, but the winner and runner-up we’re selected randomly. “We are trying to build a community and stimulate participation, it’s not about critiquing the creativity,” says Tobi.
In addition to their marketing staff of 3, Spellbinders relies on a group of five freelance designers to create how-tos on the blog. The company also works with a team of more than 10 Design Team Members, who each have their own blogs and followings in the paper arts community.
Each year, the company holds a rigorous contest to select the Design Team. Winners are compensated per project they create and promote using Spellbinders products, and the Design Team is given free Spellbinders equipment.
Also, the company is very active on the large number of crafting blogs and communities, answering questions and providing resources where appropriate.
Because advanced projects require products not only from Spellbinders, but from several other companies, a symbiotic relationship has developed within the industry. “Our business partners include links to our products from their blog posts, and we do the same,” says Tobi.
Because so much of the company’s revenue is through the retail channel, direct financial impact of social media marketing is difficult to ascertain at present. Social media marketing progress is measured through community participation across the various social outposts, feedback from retailers, mentions of the brand in social media, and regular surveys of brand awareness. (This is a great idea and one that is not unique to this social media case study. Doing quarterly brand awareness studies of your customers and prospects is a best practice – especially if you can determine how much social connectivity increases brand ID)
Unlike many companies that are trying to isolate the impact of social media marketing, Tobi and Spellbinders take a much more integrated approach. “Everything we do now has a social component,” she says. “So if overall sales, and mentions and awareness go up, social media marketing is definitely a contributing factor.” (This is an excellent philosophy. I recommend treating social media as a marketing ingredient, not a marketing silo. A presentation/post on this concept is here).
Thanks very much to Tobi and Spellbinders for letting me write up their social media case study. I hope we can do a follow up post on their new Web site, and the processes they undergo to make it even more social.