Gini Dietrich

Using Social Media for Business Growth

By: Gini Dietrich | May 6, 2010 | 

This was published in the May issue of Franchise Times.

Last year, in this column, we took a look at the online crisis that was created for Domino’s when a couple of employees posted a damaging video on YouTube that took less than 24 hours to circle the world.

After the story ran, Ramon DeLeon, a Domino’s franchisee in Chicago, sent me a note to say that they were changing how they communicated with customers and attached a video apology he sent to one of his local customers just the week before.

A customer had tweeted that her pizza delivery was late and, when it arrived, the pizza was cold. So Ramon and the general manager of that store got in front of a Flip camera and said how sorry they were about the lack in customer service. They said not only would they fix the situation, but that the customer’s next order was on them. Then they posted the video to Viddler and sent her the link via Twitter.

Ramon says, “Social media fires need to be put out with social media water.” They engaged their customer on the platform she used to complain about their customer service instead of trying to push her to their website. They made it all about her and not about them.

Not only did they change an unhappy customer into a loyal brand ambassador, the video was embedded 98,845 times and was featured by the likes of USA Today and Seth Godin, a popular blogger and best-selling author on new marketing.

When you talk to Ramon, who owns six Domino’s franchises in Chicago, he’s as energetic and fun as his online personality portrays. But what’s even more impressive is that he, as he puts it, “is putting a brand like Domino’s on the map in a pizza town like Chicago.”

Not an easy feat. Not only does he have to compete with deep dish pizza, which is what the city is known for, but he also doesn’t want to cannibalize the market from other franchisees.

He does this not only by using social media to develop relationships with the people in his delivery area, but also by monitoring what customers are saying about the brand nationwide.

Take, for instance, a little fun he had on Facebook to prove how well social media works. He posted, “You pay for a pizza the time it takes you to respond to this post.” So, if it took someone one minute after the post was published to respond, they paid $1 for their pizza.

“Did I make money on that $1 pizza?” he asks. “No, but I did on the subsequent 17. I cannot make money selling pizzas for $1, but I can make money off the conversations it generates.”

Think about this from your perspective. Sure, you might not have something as “easy” to sell as pizza, but the philosophy remains the same. How do you create conversation by offering something for nothing or using the same Facebook idea as Ramon’s?

Or give away something as simple as water bottles with your franchise logo on them. I first got to know Tasti D-Lite more than a year ago because they were giving away free mousepads to their Twitter followers via a retweet contest. I still use that mousepad on my desk at work, and let’s face it, everyone likes free stuff.

When asked for one piece of advice for his peers across the country, Ramon said, “Stop watching and do it already!” I agree.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • Nice – excellent use of the tool to be both transparent and make amends. Sometimes a problem is a golden opportunity!

  • Great post — thanks for sharing.

    Something I’ve been thinking about lately that relates to the subject is ethics in a situation like this. Can/should the company promote that they solved a problem or successfully addressed a complaint via social media? The situation I witnessed went like this:

    – Someone complained via Twitter about service they received at a local restaurant.
    – The restaurant immediately responded with a public mea culpa, and asked for more detail via DM.
    – Because I know the person, I found out after the fact that they did DM with more detail and, further, that the issue had been nicely resolved.
    – But that person did not publicly say it had been resolved.

    Is it the responsibility (for lack of a better term) of the person who complains to also clue people in to the resolution? If they don’t, can/should the company come out and say it for them? Or would that be in bad taste—bordering on unethical, by putting words into someone’s mouth? Can you even speak generally about it in good taste (i.e. “we’ll guarantee to solve your problems if you let us know about them)? Or is the act of offering help enough to “undo” the bad impression that came from the original complaint?

    I completely agree that complaints should be addressed in the original medium — a good point to reiterate. But how far can you push that resolution for your companies good?

    Thanks again.


  • Ramone DeLeon is an example of strategic internet marketing when sensibly applied to social media for business growth. He understands that the first transaction (on his FaceBook promotion above for instance) is likely to be a loss leader, but has built a system within his business to maintain contact and momentum with those buyers such that they come back many times over.

    Many local small businesses will not do well with social media investments of time and money because their approach to incorporating social media into their business is far more likely to be tactical than strategic. For heavy and aggressive investments in social media to work for a small business, they must incorporate the expected “back end” benefit into the very design of their marketing and business system.

    Not as hard as it might sound to some, but easier said than done nonetheless.

    Gogo Erekosima

  • Ramone has become the role model for a number of Chief Executives and Business Owners I work with because of the creative way he is using social media to build his business and particularly his innovative use of video. Hope to have some case studies to match Ramone’s before too long and FADS readers will be among the first to hear.

  • Thanks for the article. I will pass it on to my web development students. One comment: I think that at some point people will start abusing the idea and start posting fraudulent complaints to get free merchandise or – just because they can.

  • Nora, I agree and it’s something we discuss at length with clients. I always recommend responding once, publicly, to a complainer. Let everyone see that you’ve responded. If they complain again, everyone else sees it and they typically take care of the issue for you. There is nothing better than your community of brand ambassadors taking it upon themselves to protect a company they respect. It happens all the time, no matter the size of your business. As long as they know you’re sincere and want to help; they’ll take down the trolls for you.

    Richard, cannot wait to hear!

    John, to Nora’s point about complainers not going back and saying you resolved the issue. I personally think it’s tacky for the company to go back and say they resolved the issue, but I don’t think it’s a problem to ask the person to go back and do that. If they don’t, well, they don’t and there isn’t much you can do about it. Except hope the next person does.

  • I found this new, TOTALLY FREE (like myspace and facebook) social network. It lets you do everything from 1 page, including managing any other social sites you may already have subscribed to. People String is awesome, I use it for everything.