June 25, 2010, 11:44 AM

Twitter party time

Mark Brohan

Research Director

Many retailers are skeptical that social media can be used to generate online sales. But someone forgot to tell Organize.com, which is generating sales one Twitter campaign at a time. Want to make social media a true money maker and not just a branding tool? Get creative. That’s what Organize.com did. In their case they threw a party on Twitter. Last fall Organize.com invited 800 close friends to a two-hour Twitter party and came away with 323 orders and more than $15,000 in incremental sales.

A Twitter party consists of constant tweeting between Twitter members on a passionate topic and giveaways such as door prizes, a grand prize, and coupons. The host creates an interactive chat in a party atmosphere and keeps the Twitter conversations–and giveaways–flowing on a frequent basis. Organize.com, which sells organizational products, housewares and related merchandise, held its first-ever Twitter party in December, right before the holidays, to generate sales from its most loyal customers: women with families and an avid interest in organizational products for the home and office.

Organize.com threw a similar party just last month and came away with equally solid sales. Here’s how a Twitter party works: interested customers are directed to a special sign-up page on Organize.com. Once on the page, the customer for the event fills in her Twitter account information and receives a hash tag that enables her to log in and attend. Prior to the party, Organize.com also spends several weeks planning a number of giveaways, which may include a grand prize such as a 12-piece table setting, and $500 worth of door prizes.

Once the party is under way, Organize.com marketing managers take turns as the host and send out new questions and announce door prize winners every 15 minutes. During the party, Organize.com also sends out new tweets every few minutes and monitors the responding tweet messaging among partygoers in real-time. “A Twitter party is like a live chat, but social media allows much more interaction between the participants,” says Organize.com vice president of marketing Deborah Shearer. “You have to know how to really use Twitter to stage an event like this.”

Organize.com gets traction with its Twitter parties – 1,500 revelers signed for its May soirée. Recently at the Internet Retailer & Conference & Exhibition I heard several retailers say they were taking a “wait and see” attitude about using social networking to generate transactions.

Why wait? You are in the business of Internet retailing – not Internet fence sitting. Organize.com, which has annual web sales of $11.5 million and is No. 486 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, is a small online retailer. But they’re big on trying out new ideas and using an exciting new medium to generate business. Want to make money like Organize.com did by using social media? Just use your imagination and think out-of-the-box. You’ll be glad you did and so will your chief financial officer.


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