Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Social Media Sure Is Delicious

I don't in any way pretend to be a social media expert. Sure, I'm an active user of Facebook and Twitter, I have a blog, and now I've even started checking in everywhere on Foursquare. And sure, some people I work with think I'm an expert. But if there's one thing I've learned when it comes to social media, it's that nobody knows anything (to borrow the phrase from William Goldman), and we're all making it up as we go along. So I'll let other people label themselves as social media gurus, experts, ninjas, or whatever word they're using these days. Me, an expert? I'm not ready for that kind of label just yet.

That all said, I really do enjoy social networking. Sure, like most people, I've reconnected with old friends and learned more about coworkers, and I've spent too much time doing so, but I've also made some new friends, enhanced my enjoyment of events and conferences, and hell, I'll admit it: earlier this summer I even dated someone I met on Twitter. Yes, I've had my doubts, but now that I'm fully in the weeds, I'm the kind of guy who actually gets in debates about the right and wrong way to use the sites, I think people who aren't on Facebook or Twitter are missing out, and I find myself getting all riled up when I find articles about social media that I agree with (like this one and this one, for example).

All this is a preamble for telling you I may have reached a zenith in my social media "career." You see, Ben & Jerry's has been traveling around Boston this summer giving out free ice cream at concerts, beaches, malls, museums, office buildings, and other places. The promotion has been driven (no pun intended) largely by social media sites like Twitter, Foursquare, and Facebook, with the idea being that they'll announce on those sites where the ice cream truck is going next. By extension, if you want the truck to stop by where you are, you just have to tweet your heart out — and getting your friends to do the same wouldn't hurt.

You can probably tell where this story is going.

A few weeks ago, I started tweeting that I wanted the truck to come to my workplace. And surprise, surprise — to cut the story short — on Tuesday it did! Now, I can't take full credit for getting this done ... aw hell, if there's one other thing I know about social media, it's that everyone's a self-promoter, so why not me? Yes, I was the ringleader who got Ben & Jerry's to come to my office and drop off a ton of Cookie Dough, Cherry Garcia, and Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream cups. (Seriously, a ton. We will likely be eating ice cream till Christmas.) I sent messages back and forth with the @BenJerrysTruck handle, last week I enlisted a bunch of people across the company to tweet in support of this very important cause, and voila: it totally worked. Ben & Jerry's heard us, responded, and made good on its promise. (They must have known we like to eat.)

This, my friends, is the power of social media. Provide a great customer experience, engage with people on the sites, mobilize and empower your fans to spread the word about you, and amazing things can happen. Oh, and have fun with it. That's the really important part. Ben & Jerry's made hundreds of my coworkers happy on Tuesday, and made the folks who were out of the office jealous. Lots of people posted comments and photos on Facebook and Twitter, thus telling even more people about how much they love Ben & Jerry's. And it all happened because I posted a few tweets and got some of my friends excited about the prospect of free ice cream. (Or so I'd like to believe.)

As one of my coworkers said to me, "I don't understand everything about social media, but it sure is delicious!" I'm no expert, but I'd have to agree with that statement.

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