Can Social Media Grow Your Business by $11 million in 1 Year?

Amex CEO BootCamp

Yes it can, if you’re the homemaker turned entrepreneur who founded Lolly Wolly Doodle, and built her business almost entirely on Facebook. The children’s clothing maker generated $11 million in 2013, and has doubled its revenue every year since being founded in 2009, according to a lengthy profile in Inc. magazine.

Tips From the Experts

Brandi Temple, founder of Lolly Wolly Doodle, moderated a panel with representatives from Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest at the Amex CEO BootCamp in New York earlier this week.The panelists discussed how to grow a small business using social media. Attendees also had the opportunity to attend breakout seminars hosted by each of the networks.

While she didn’t discuss her own company’s success story, in a video accompanying the Inc. profile, Brandi offered these seven “secrets” to budding entrepreneurs:

  • Treat each channel differently. While the channels may have similarities there are also differences and it’s very important to treat each one as its own business property.
  • Experiment, experiment, experiment. Try different things. Don’t be afraid to do something crazy because it might just work.
  • Be yourself. There’s no sense in getting tons of Likes if your message isn’t going to the people you really want to attract.
  • Make transactions seamless. Nobody wants to go through 20 steps to buy something. They want it fast and easy as possible.
  • Don’t be a business. You don’t want your customers to think that all you’re trying to do is sell something. Talk about things that are important to them in their daily lives.
  • Keep them on their toes. Put things up and down very quickly, tying into the social side of it, making it a game with your customers.
  • Buckle up. Because you’re going to go on a crazy ride on social media. This is especially true of Facebook, which she said seems to change its algorithms every week.

Search Gets More Sophisticated

All the social media networks have refined their analytics so they have a deep understanding of who their users are and their behaviors. It’s important to remember that each network is also a sophisticated search engine directing to you to the content you request. In the process, the networks are building a profile of each user.

Twitter’s Brin Sanders said Twitter is taking it a step further and trying to understand better what their members’ interests are, and not only by the terms they search.

I recently wrote a post for Keep Up with the Web in which I discussed how independent search engines are trying to get better at semantics, which is understanding the relationships between people, places and things to uncover what people want – their real interests. It appears the social networks are moving in the same direction.

Twitter’s 85 million active users generate 500 million tweets a day, Brin said. Business owners can to listen to what their customers are saying and learn about their needs as a foundation for a business and social media strategy.

Brin also announced that Twitter this week launched a Twitter Small Business Planner, “…a mobile app full of tactical guidance for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in North America, the UK and Ireland.”

For the upcoming holiday season, Twitter is co-hosting a series of educational digital events with the Google Small Business Community, Square, HubSpotHootsuite and SproutSocial. Go to #SmallGoesBig to learn more.

Stacy Aronstein of LinkedIn said the biggest mistake people make on LinkedIn is not having a robust profile, including a photo. Members with a photo receive 14 times more views.

Your profile is your brand. After a meeting or conference the first thing people do is go back to their office and look you up on LinkedIn. It’s a missed opportunity to connect if your profile doesn’t reflect your brand. Be personal and approachable in your profile. Tell your story in the first person. Say “I” and “Me.” Engage with humans, not resumes.

LinkedIn’s two million Groups also enable members to engage with other members based on mutual interests to learn what customers and potential customers are talking about.

Following influencers, becoming active in Groups and following discussions all provide information about potential connections.

If you want help developing your brand on LinkedIn or leveraging the network’s other services, then visit the LinkedIn Small Business Resource Center.

Sandy Diao of Pinterest said companies test product ideas to see what gets pinned. They are making design decisions based on the trends they see on Pinterest.

If certain products are very popular they can be stocked in offline stores. Metrics around pins can inform a company’s offline marketing strategy.

Pins validate their choices. With their boards, human beings are organizing objects in their personal lives and communicating what’s resonating with them. Over time it’s possible to build an interest graph connecting all these objects and, Sandy said, feed more granular information to them.

The Bottom Line

Each network representative stressed that you need to know your goals for social media. Is it to sell products? Create awareness? Build your brand? Is it to engage your existing customers or reach new customers?

Don’t be afraid to experiment. See what works. Discard wasn’t doesn’t work and then try something new.

Listen to your customers and learn what they want and need. Engage with them and be approachable. Your metrics will tell you a lot about their interests.

Maybe in time if you follow the advice of the experts you can be the next Lolly Wooly Doodle.

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  1. I had read the Inc. magazine article on Lolly Wolly Doodle when it came out a few months back. What she did for her company on social media made for an absolutely incredible read. She thought outside the box, kept her customers on their toes for sure, and was true to herself. It goes to show what experimenting with marketing on social media can do for a company.

  2. I’d call the last few years a total experiment in my case. I’ve learned a lot along the way (especially not to sweat the small stuff). I’ve also realized I’m better off at branding myself as an editor since the typical genres and pace required of self-pubbing are not well-suited to my capabilities. In the year ahead, I’ll be looking to brand myself even more in the editor direction rather the author direction. It’s what’s going to work best for now, but I wouldn’t know that without also diving into the brave new world of indie writers.
    Jeri recently posted..#AmEditing: GOING PRO–Finding the Right EditorMy Profile

    • Jeri, sorry for the delay as your comment just appeared! I think your new website and stating your editing fees is certainly part of branding yourself as an editor. Nothing to say you can’t keep writing, too.

  3. Hi Jeannette – I’ve printed this off. As you know I’m still trying to come to grips with social media and the best way to use it. I now am becoming familiar with LinkedIn and have started becoming more knowledgeable about Twitter, although I still have a lot to learn but information like yours will help get me there. Thanks.
    Lenie recently posted..5 Top Money-Saving AppsMy Profile

    • Thanks, Lenie, I’m flattered you printed it out. There is so much to learn about social media. You just have to jump in and try different things to see what works.

  4. What a pity that I don’t have a business that could generate 11 millon dollars on social media marketing only. Might have to come up with something for consumers that’s affordable:-)

    You can make wonders on social media if you handle it correctly. Suddenly last week got an email stating that my Alma Mater consider me to be one of the most intersting and accomplished graduates.

    It intrigued me so I found out what happened. Turned out that Linkedin used to select Notable Alumni for them in the past but now my alma mater had started selecting and appointing their own. Needless to say if I had not had a well developed profile on Linkedin it would not have happened.
    Catarina recently posted..Are you bilingual and have overcome adversity?My Profile

    • Catarina — what a great story. It just reinforces that your reputation depends more and more on your social media presence. Maybe that isn’t the way it should be but that’s the way the world is going. Congratulations on your well deserved recognition.

  5. Turning a home based business into an $11 million revenue stream is an amazing feat. With so many different social media platforms and all with different specifics it is hard to keep up but I guess if you can, anything is then possible.
    Tim recently posted..The Big BaksheeshMy Profile

    • Tim — Considering she didn’t know anything about social media until a few years ago it’s an amazing accomplishment. I should be so smart!

  6. Say Lolly Wolly Doodle five times fast. I had to do that! There is definitely a different approach with each channel. I see updates that say, “Don’t use LinkedIn like it’s Facebook!” Supposedly, hashtags are disliked there as well. The only problem I see is possibly sharing the same information in the wrong way on each platform.

    • Deidre — The audience on LinkedIn is very different from Facebook, which is much more consumer oriented. I’m in the B2B space so LinkedIn is my primary network. I just tried repeating Lolly Wolly Doodle five times and it wasn’t easy!

  7. I never thought about taking each social media site as an individual and treat it differently.
    This is something very important for me to know.
    I will try to experiment and I hope my effort will turn out great.

    But still, ” I am thinking to learn more about, what strategies can we follow and how we can treat each media differently? As for a common person like me , media is one and same everywhere”
    andleeb recently posted..How to solve Exam to avoid mistakes… TIPSMy Profile

    • andleeb — While there are similarities in the social media networks they do have distinguishing characteristics and the audiences can be quite different. LinkedIn is a notable example as it is populated entirely by professionals whereas the other networks have many members who are there for social reasons.

  8. Excellent article Jeanette! I appreciate the reminder about how each platform is unique because when the clock is ticking it’s all too easy to falling into trying to save time by just doing the same thing across all the channels. One tip that was new to me was the one about keeping them on their toes. It never occurred to me to use that strategy but I really like it and definitely plan to give it a try. Thanks for the inspiration!
    Marquita Herald recently posted..What Motivates You to be Your Very Best?My Profile

    • Marquita — please excuse delay in responding, your comment just showed up! Each platform is unique and I know I fall into the habit of posting the same content, Using Buffer is just so easy, but better to personalize for each channel.

  9. Wow Jeannette, $11 million… That’s just unheard of but I bet that children’s clothes are a BIG hit with the Mom’s on Facebook.

    They are right though, each platform is different so doing the same across all of them wouldn’t work. I’m not a big LinkedIn fan but I’ve always had my profile set up correctly from the start. I would say that if people took more tips with how they can improve their brand across the different platforms then I’m sure nothing is impossible.

    Now, I guess we all better get to work with some type of business that could generate that kind of money. Wouldn’t that be sweet.

    ~Adrienne
    Adrienne recently posted..Who Else Wants To Learn From These 6 Authority BloggersMy Profile

    • Adrienne — Yes, I found her story to be quite amazing but it’s true. Sometimes you also have to have some dumb luck. She was a newbie at social media when she first started out but met the right people and had good instincts. Also she wasn’t afraid to try things and if they didn’t work, do some course corrections. It’s important to keep persisting.

    • Meredith, Apologies for not responding (just got this comment). I definitely think Pinterest is a good network for you because so much of what you write about is illustrated by imagery, which is at the heart of the Pinterest experience.

  10. The only time I don’t treat each channel differently is when I get hurried (or is that harried?) and use Hootsuite or BufferApp. Great review Jeannette. I’m kind of with Catarina – being a coach and author, I’ll have to create some new FanDangled item to reach that $11 million business! Nah, I think I’ll play now.

    • Pat — I know it’s all too easy to use the Buffer app, as I well know. Me earn $11 million in the rest of my lifetime? I don’t think so!