Social media has become mainstream and businesses are increasingly turning to it to interact with their customers and boost the company bottom line. SocialGrub is a new service that brings social marketing tools to the restaurant and retail industry. For this “Quick Query” we spoke with the co-founder of Social Grub, Sam Rubin.
Practical eCommerce: Tell us about SocialGrub. It helps businesses optimize the social media experience, but how do you do that?
Sam Rubin: “I think people understand that this [social media] is not a fad. It is something that’s going to be around and something that they need to embrace today. Facebook was originally created, basically, for a guy to find
out who knew the hot girls in his class. And maybe if I knew Bob and Bob knew Sally, then he could help introduce me. It started in a college environment. It’s morphed into what it is today. These channels aren’t really geared for a business-to-consumer relationship. It always will be and always has been a person-to-person or consumer-to-consumer type of relationship. SocialGrub allows a business to harness social media to properly and effectively target their audience and help to spread virally their different offers and promotions.”
PeC: Can you give us an example?
Rubin: “Let’s say you are a local store and you specialize in running shoes. You can utilize SocialGrub to highlight each one of those shoes, some of the benefits, some of the features, perhaps it’s something where they need to print it and bring it in and maybe they save on the shoes. Maybe they get a free pair of socks, maybe they get a free T-shirt from your brand and you can also link into a ‘Buy It Now’ feature off your website. So, it can also make a virtual shopping cart from within Facebook as well.”
PeC: One of the touted benefits of social media is that it allows the little guy to compete with the “big boys.” How do you convince your customers that they can see even bigger returns on social media by spending some money on a service like yours?
Rubin: “It’s kind of like email marketing. Email marketing is one of the most effective, if not the most effective, forms or marketing. I think the research will show you that for every $1 you spent in email marketing, it would generate $48 in purchases. When you’re looking at a SocialGrub type of application and all the features that we’re able to provide for a single unit operator, it’s $50 per month. There’s no setup fee, there’s no long-term contract. So, when you’re looking at somebody that runs a shoe store, they probably sell $100 pair of shoes. Your return on investment is made when one person a month purchases from you. It’s not a $5,000 billboard. It’s not a $1,000 ad in a newspaper. With us, we price it at a price point where literally if we bring in one person a month, it will pay for itself. And we know from our existing clients and our research, we’ll bring you in much more than that.”
PeC: Social media experts say if you’re going to use Twitter or Facebook to reach your customers, you can’t sell to them. You have to interact with them. You have to communicate with them because it is a community. By having discounts, instant offers, creating coupons, can you sell to them without it seeming like spam?
Rubin: “Yeah. I think that’s a great, great point. What you’re seeing a lot of the time is people just sell, sell, sell. The whole thing with social media is just that it’s social. It’s supposed to build a two-way communication. I’ve got one client right now that had not effectively been utilizing it [social media] that much. Their fan page was between 100 and 120 members. So instead of just rolling out a promotion to say, ‘Click here to get this,’ we said, ‘You know what? Let’s build this more of a community. So, let’s do a promo to say if by the end of December we get to 1,000 fans, then we’ll provide you with this type of an incentive.’ We did this starting on Tuesday of Thanksgiving week. At some point later today, they’re going to surpass 1,000 fans. So it’s building more of that community and people are becoming very loyal to the brand and saying, ‘Hey guys, I looked at the page earlier today and there were fans talking about inviting one more fans so we can get over the top.’ So, now, you start getting your fans to help you to become bigger and better.”
PeC: Anything else you’d like to share with us about social media and SocialGrub?
Rubin: “I think with social media, it’s definitely something that you need to get on board with now. You just need to jump in. I would really look at something like a SocialGrub with a very low price point to help you. We work with all of our clients. We learn their brand. We help them to succeed. I think it’s really important to team up with a reputable company that can provide a great value to help you to build your brand. More importantly, I really think it’s important for the owner or operator or the manager to be that interaction. You never want to let your intern or your regular hourly employee have access to update the stuff. A lot of the time, people think that they’re communicating with the owners and the last thing you want is a disgruntled employee or an intern making comments and decisions that they’re not authorized to make.”