Social Media Solutions for the Wallet-Conscious: Two Cents from #SESSF

Welcome to AIMCLEAR‘s coverage of #SES San Francisco 2011! Feeling blue over your company’s lack of funds for social media? Lusting over the top quality video production and team of whip-smart writers employed by Old Spice? Overwhelmed by the rich world of social media marketing and all the heavy-weight competition?

Fear no more. Search Engine Strategies San Francisco, affectionately abbreviated #SESSF, to the rescue!

Convincing your boss of the potential benefits and virility a well-planned, well-executed social media marketing campaign can offer is not always an easy task. Factor in an already-tight budget across marketing and tech departments, the TLC social media deserves can quickly become lost in the shuffle. The good news is there are a plethora of tools and strategies at your disposal, many  free, or reasonably low cost, that can help drive traffic, generate brand awareness, and foster engagement between brand and community.

Day 1 of #SESSF kicked off (post-keynote) with a team of social-savvy pros ready to share their two cents on the cost-effective social media solutions the world (wide web) has to offer. Moderator Christopher Heine, Staff Writer, ClickZ News, introduced speakers Nathan Bransfordt, Social Media Manager, CNET/CBS Interactive, Jeffrey Harmon, Chief Marketing Officer, Orabrush, and Greg Jarboe, President & Co-founder, SEO-PR, and away we went. AIMCLEAR live-tweeted this AM-sesh via @beebow. Read on for the full round-up.

Chris Heine took the stage and thoughtfully introduced the panelists, as well as our first speaker, Jeffrey Harmon from Orabrush. Orabrush, for those unfamiliar, is a spiffy little dental hygiene toy that scrapes your tongue, thereby ridding it of stinky bacteria and giving you clean, fresh breath. It looks like this:


(Audience members got to walk away with one of these babies.)

Taking the Offline… Online
Keen to the concept that 40% of all media consumption is online, when Orabrush began marketing, they ramped up their online marketing, rather than contacting major pharmacies and relaters to court them into carrying its product. What did they do?

Behold, Bad Breath Test – How to Tell When Your Breath Stinks.

  • Objective: Create a video geared towards conversions on the Orabrush landing page. (Video was on YouTube, but conversion was on website. Tricky, tricky!)
  • Video garnered an impressive 15.4 million views. And, get this. The only advertising Orabrush did was YouTube Promoted Videos & a beta ad platform in YouTube, Trueview.
  • 19% of people who watched the Orabrush video ended up on the website (objective of this particular marketing campaign).
  • Orabrush spent $500 on the video. (They had pre-existing connections with the star of the vid, someone into video production, etc. These things help!)

Pretty impressive. Once the video was adequately seeded with paid, it got the right eyeballs, namely those of very engaged YouTubers who began to create & post, on their own volition, product reviews. Smart tip / takeaway: Let… (nay, encourage!) channel-specific power users to leverage their own communities to organically promote your company / product / service.

Next, Orabrush created another comical video featuring in-the-field testing of their new iPhone app that tests your breath to determine whether it’s good or not. Who knows whether or not it actually works– all we could glean from the video was that the iPhone spit back funny insults or pick-up lines for nasty or fresh breath accordingly. Based on the interest or curiosity spawned by the video, that app got 300k downloads and drove 290k fans to Facebook. Not bad.

All of this YouTube activity got Orabrush some pretty sweet mainstream media coverage from the likes of Huffington Post, New York Times, TechCrunch, etc. In fact, some sources ranked Orabrush’s social media marketing campaigns alongside companies a la Old Spice, Pepsi, Coke, GE…

Taking the Online… Offline
The virility of this marketing campaign was totally awesome. But Orabrush was now tasked with taking that power offline. Why? Because while 40% of all media consumption is online, 93% of sales happen offline.

Interestingly enough, as a result of the YouTube activity & mainstream media coverage, Orabrush started getting calls from all over the world from pharmacies interested in carrying the product. The very same pharmacies they would have marketed to offline previously. Nuts like Walmart, though, were still pretty tough to crack. Finally, in Christmas ’10, a Walmart in Utah contacted Orabrush, lusting over their tongue brush, longing to sell it in their store. They set up a gorgeous display, and the Orabrush matter-o-fact, outsold all other products in that category.

Looking to convince other Walmarts to retail the tongue scraper, Orabrush created a rather entertaining video profiling the wild success enjoyed by the Utah location. This video, featuring comical characters Orabrush Guy & Morgan the Tongue, was shown privately to Walmart, and was surely a more engaging method of pitching your product than a tricked out PowerPoint presentation.

What we know so far about online video:

  • Well executed online video increases conversion rates by 2-3x on your landing page
  • When we take effective & proven online video campaigns & put them in the store, it converts 2-4 x

Threading the Offline… Back Online
Once you make the sale in person, continue to milk that engagement as much as possible. Bring it back online! Remind customers to return to your YouTube Channel, or Facebook page, to chat with the brand, like-minded customers, or leave consumer feedback. Cool tip: Add a “As Seen On YouTube” label to your package 🙂

Jeffrey wrapped up and handed over the mic. Next was Nathan Bransford, who began by pointing out that although this session was to be geared towards people who do not work for a Fortune 500 company (read: do not have expansive budgets for social media), Nathan, in fact, does…

However! The common denominator is that like many audience members, Nathan did not have big bucks to blow on a fancy social media marketing campaign. Many of the tools & tactics he leverages (and found success with) are organic, free or low-cost. What = success? In less than a year, he’s grown his company’s Twitter followers by 300k, and seen a huge increase in Facebook fans as well. All via organic 🙂

Keys to Social Media Success:

  • There isn’t a social media silver bullet.
  • The best way to build an audience is with consistently good content.
  • Get the big things right:
    • Optimize social button replacement!
    • Post consistently engaging content!
    • For Facebook, focus on the Newsfeed. Apps are cool (though costly), but the majority of time is spent in the newsfeed, stats back that up.
    • Track how much you’re shared (retweeted), track what kinds of content people engage with. This will help advise the kind of content you share in the future.
    • Monitor & respond to the results. Really focus on the engagement levels of the community you cultivate
    • Make sure the engagement grows in tandem with the growth of your followers. The quality of your fans is huge!

Some smart advice…

  • Don’t overpost. For Facebook, 4-6 posts per day is enough. For twitter, 10-20 per day is enough.
  • Social media is social. Engage directly with fans and followers.
  • Cultivate a voice. give the brand a voice that people feel they’re interacting with a personality. @NathanBransford
  • Leverage free tools, a la…
    • Hootsuite, TweetDeck – great for scheduling posts, even to Facebook!
    • – great for tracking insights into clicks & conversations / conversions from tiny links you share
    • – great analytics that offer insight into competitors, e.g.: fan change per day
    • -track follow counts overtime on Twitter & FB. Check up on your in your competitors, too

Nathan handed the mic over to the final presenter, Greg Jarboe, sporting a rather fetching bright red Rutgers sweater.

Greg starts off stating plain and simple: “Social media solutions won’t get a budget if ROMI is under 1.1.”

ROMI = return on marketing investment, literally meaning that within 90 days of launching a campaign, you should get at least 1.1 of what you invested back. Where does that figure come from? It’s an industry average according to Nielsen across thousands of campaigns. It’s the benchmark for ROMI. It’s also the reality of marketing: If you can’t make slightly more than what you spent in the first 90 of marketing, you’re losing your shirt.

For the rest of his presentation, Greg toured us though a casestudy from Rutgers University that demonstrated his team’s ability to not only achieve a reasonable ROMI, but exceed it, with organic social media.

  • The goal: put 6 butts in seats of a social media marketing course
  • Rutgers CMD offered 1st social media marketing course on Dec 6-10, 2010
  • $4,995 cost included instructional materials on a preloaded iPad
  • Course was limited to 30 students, still had room for 6 people
  • Rutgers allotted $4k budget for Greg & SEO PR on Tuesday, Nov 2, 2010, to achieve the goal

Side Note: Rutgers CMD also spent $4k for an ad campaign on Mashable, unconvinced f the power of organic social. Mashable gets more than 40 mil monthly pageviews & 11.5 million unique monthly views, so advertising there makes sense. Still, give organic some credit!

Actionable Tactics You Can Emulate, & the Stats to Back Them Up

  • First, Greg identified and engaged relevant and influential bloggers (this is a super smart tactic, often overlooked). To do this, he leverage tools like Trackur, which can identify who is influential in your space based on buckets of search terms you enter.
  • Next, Greg’s team wrote , optimized & distributed a press release optimized for news search engines. not regular search engines. The News SERPs are different from the Search SERPs. Period.
  • Fun fact: Sometimes, announcing / publishing something on a Sunday can be better than on a Monday. Sure, perhaps PR pros don’t want to work on a Sunday, but that’s the day a lot of readers are hanging out at home, feet up on the coffee table, laptop at the read. There’s loads more free time on a Sunday, more often than not. Greg recommends the approach of firing a PR on a Monday, but perhaps seeding it to an authoritative blogger on Saturday, or Sunday, to set the spark early.
  • Thanks to keen optimization (well implemented KWs and relevant anchor text galore) and pitching it beforehand to that blogger, this particular press release grabbed up the #1 in blog SERPs & #2 in Yahoo! News SERPs for the term… get this… “social media marketing course.” Helloooooo, nurse!
  • Fun fact: While 13 million people read NY Times online, 40 million people read Yahoo! News. Phew! That’s huge.


  • All in all, the PR got 2,048 views & tagged links got 143 clicks
    • A note on tagged links: Greg used Google Analytics URL builder (awesome tool for creating custom URL variables) to tag the PR links. Tagging links shows you which marketing activities are paying off.  Tagged links dont piss anyone off (it’s just a long URL). Tagged links do, however, completely rock the way you consume analytics.
  • Pitching the story to 1 blogger ended up with 1,097 total additional posts about the course– 67 in blogs & 969 on Twitter.
  • Visits to target page were up by 143% the week of campaign vs. prior week
  • Goal conversions were up 106% week of campaign vs. prior week. (Conversions were completing a form expressing interest in taking the class. Users could do this online, by downloading a PDF, or via email — all of which were trackable by Google Analytics.)

Results, at a stupidly high-level: Six butts ended up in the course 🙂 Mission: Accomplished.

And just how did these butts get in the class? Since Greg was their teacher, he had the opportunity to ask these new students just how they got there:

  • 2 from organic searches
  • 1 from Twitter
  • 1 from Mashable
  • 2 from… we don’t know! Word of mouth 🙂 (“My husband told me about it!” But where did the husband see it!?)

The ROMI, mapped out:

  • SEO PR had $4k spend
  • They delivered $14-985-$24,975 in incremental revenue
  • ROMI = 3.7-6.2

Take a moment to lift your jaw off the floor.

What’s more, the $4k spent on Mashable advertising brought back $4995-$14,985 in incremental revenue. ROMI = 1.2-3.7.


  • Social media is social!
  • People know what their friends, or in this case, their spouse. That’s not always trackable… *shakes fist* (but still, they’re there!)
  • Go back & tell your PR people that 1.1 is the bare minimum. If you can do 3.7, you’re cookin’ 🙂

And that about does ‘er! Big thanks to this great panel for their actionable two cents that could help save brands boatloads without sparing awesome social media results. Stay tuned right here in AIMCLEAR Blog for more #SESSF coverage, and follow along with @mannyrivas, @ericasendros & yours truly, @beebow, for more live coverage.

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