"One can hardly deny that online testimonials are valuable, but those generally come after the sale," writes Kimberly Smith at MarketingProfs. "What if you could start that engine earlier by introducing a social component while customers are still excitedly anticipating the arrival of their new purchases?" San Francisco's Rickshaw Bagworks found a way to do it—and its strategy might work for your company, too.

When research showed that its target audience preferred Twitter to other social networks, the plan went into action:

  • During the checkout process, Rickshaw Bagworks asked customers for their Twitter handles.
  • When a new bag was about to be shipped, staff would snap a photo and send a tweet with the customer's handle and the #FreshBagFeed hashtag. For instance: "Tweed meets camouflage. We're in LOVE. Great choice @floflidesign #FreshBagFeed."

Initially, the tweets linked to images posted at Twitpic, but Rickshaw Bagworks encountered a problem. "The pages displayed third-party ads, including some from a major competitor," explains Smith. The fix came in the form of personalized landing pages that echoed the design sensibilities of the company's website.

The results were spectacular:

  • Sixty percent of customers who received @ mentions responded with a reply or retweet.
  • On the low end, landing pages receive between 10 and 15 visits. But others get much more traffic, according to Smith: "One received more than 1,500 views, though that's unusual; highs typically range between 300 and 500 views."

The Po!nt: If you produce share-worthy content and make it easy to share, customers might start spreading the word before your product ever arrives.

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