October 13, 2010, 1:20 PM

Putting a sales face on Facebook

For Organize.com, social media builds up the brand—and sales.

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Organize.com sees Twitter and Facebook as engaging new ways to build brand awareness, especially among its core shoppers for organizational products for the home and office. But along the way, Organize.com, No. 486 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, also learned that social media can be a big help with another top priority: generating sales.

Since launching a presence on Facebook and Twitter nearly two years ago, Organize.com has developed and refined a social media strategy that can generates sales of up to $18,000 for a single special event. These special events, which Organize.com calls “parties” and hosts on Facebook and Twitter, could generate possibly more than $100,000 in new sales in 2010, says vice president of marketing and merchandising Deborah Shearer. “We saw early on that social marketing could be a way to help us stand out in our niche and develop an even better ongoing dialogue with our customers,” says Shearer.

Many retailers have a social media presence, but Organize.com has built its strategy around a particular niche: hosting two-hour parties. The parties typically occur on a Wednesday evening in the middle of the month from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Pacific time in order to capture a window of time when busy working moms have a chance to relax after a hectic day. The events include lots of engagement and door prizes.

At a typical Facebook event, Organize.com acts as the host and posts questions that engage consumers by asking about their favorite projects or products and encouraging them to share organizing tips. Prizes and coupons are awarded to participants every 10 to 15 minutes. “On Facebook everyone has a connection, and the parties help us generate our connections to our customers,” says Shearer.

This year Organize.com, which sells organizational products, housewares and related merchandise, will hold about 10 social media parties, including up to eight on Facebook. Each event typically generates a range of 500 to 1,500 participants who may come for the door prizes, but stay because they can share experiences with their friends, says Shearer. “These parties are all about being social and collaboration,” she says.

Organize.com holds parties around popular holidays such as Halloween and Christmas. But other parties on Twitter and Facebook may be held to generate interest in a special event or new lines of merchandise. At one recent Facebook event at a national hardware trade show, the retailer had 2,000 interactions with participants. After the party, participants were given coupons for $5 off orders of $25 or more at Organize.com, good until the end of July.

“Social media helps us further our business as a niche retailer,” says Shearer.

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