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[published in the February 2013 CCCC KidsBiz Newsletter]

If you’re not getting the ROI you’d like from social media, chances are, you’re doing it wrong. The reality is, companies are enjoying both immediate returns like direct sales, retail sales and press hits as well as longer-lead benefits like brand loyalty and awareness. These gains can be yours but it does take time, a plan, the right tools and an understanding of your target market. Here, Kula Klips, Itzy Ritzy and Cute Beltz share how investing in social media has paid off for their businesses and why the learning curve never ends. —CC

Kula Klips

Facebook 5,033 fans
Twitter 2,993 followers

Make it Personal
Owner Ashley Fraser-Sexsmith credits the momentum shift in her social media efforts with letting her hair down and starting to share tidbits about her life. From there, one thing led to another, including a car purchase on Twitter, TV spots and local-celebrity status.

No limits. I post things about my business but I post about my kids a lot and about things going on locally. I get a lot of brand recognition from that.

Rainmaker. Social media is great for word of mouth. It’s been most beneficial for direct sales but I’ve also gotten into retail stores as well.

All access. Twitter and Facebook are the most beneficial. Twitter is my favorite because I like the interaction. I’ve met so many other children’s businesses and local companies. And I have followers like Britney Spears and mentions from other celebrities as well.

Unexpected consequences. A friend referred me to a car dealership on Twitter and the salesman responded. We tweeted back and forth, and he brought the car to us to test drive. Now I’m in his television ads.

Commitment necessary. If you’re not going to do it properly and interact with people and post regularly, don’t start a social media page. There’s nothing more annoying [for a customer] than not getting a response.

Itzy Ritzy

Facebook 10,124 fans
Twitter 3,544 followers
Pinterest 1,509 followers
Instagram 190 followers
Youtube 35,189 views

Foster a Community
Brittany Sodora, vice president of marketing and strategic partnerships, says social media allows the company to involve fans in the brand. By making that connection, she grows awareness—and her customer base.

Loyalty program. We love directly interacting with our retail customers, getting their feedback on products and fabrics, discussing parenting topics, and sharing breaking Itzy Ritzy news. It has truly become a community where we are building long-term relationships with loyal customers who then share, post and spread the news about Itzy Ritzy to their Facebook friends.

Opinion poll. Our fans love getting our product and fabric reveals first on Facebook. They also like giving feedback and we receive a high number of responses from posts asking to help name new fabrics or opinions on new products.

Group efforts. We partner with other like-minded brands to host joint giveaways on Facebook and always promote PR hits via social media. Our joint promotion with Jessica Alba’s The Honest Company and Smocked Auctions created a ton of social media buzz and a nice increase in our Facebook fan and customer base.

Ice breaker. We’ve also used social media to connect with target wholesale accounts as it’s a great way to learn about them and easily start communications.

Cute Beltz

Facebook 3,380 fans
Twitter 5,499 followers
Pinterest 539 followers

Hone Your Strategy
Becoming disciplined about her approach has helped owner Kristen Stevens boost her accessories business. No more “flying by the seat of my pants,” she says. These days, she spends lots of time crunching the numbers and following the clicks.

Toolbox. Facebook definitely brings more people to my page than any other social network. Pinterest also works really well; I see most of my traffic at night. Twitter allows me to connect with stores.

High-yield investment. It takes a lot of time. I spend about 2 hours a day on social media. And that’s on top of doing sales, customer service and everything else. I’m really the only person running my company. Plus, I have kids.

Variety show. I post five times a day on Facebook because Facebook has changed so I need to post more. My fans are interested in things like DIY and business tips. I have a schedule [of topics] to engage people not just show them products all day.

Long engagements. It’s all about target marketing. Find out who your audience is. Know what they like. And cater to them.

Higher education. Learn how the platforms work. And stay on top of it. [For instance,] with Pinterest it’s about how you organize your boards and keywords. Twitter’s list feature allows me to stay organized.

[published in the February 2013 CCCC KidsBiz Newsletter]