February 9, 2010, 12:00 AM

An online gardening retailer’s social marketing campaign boosts its sales

A month after launching a social networking marketing campaign, Outsidepride.com is seeing its sales rise.

Pruners serve as the best evidence yet that a social networking marketing campaign kicked off in January could lead to increased sales for online gardening supply retailer Outsidepride.com Inc.

The company launched a Facebook, Twitter and blog campaign Jan. 4 aimed at increasing interest in its products by giving consumers tips about gardening and information about sales. It offered consumers a chance to win $50 gift certificates by responding to posts and Twitter messages. When shoppers respond to the messages, Outsidepride enters them in a drawing for a $500 gift certificate grand prize.

“We did [the campaign] partly to increase search engine ranking, and to attract new customers,” says Troy Hake, company president.

So far, discussions about winter pruning appear to have attracted the most interest on the Facebook page and the company’s blog, which resides on the retailer’s home page. The first tip-filled blog post, published Jan. 4, offers advice from a nursery worker about winter pruning of trees and shrubs.

“Pruners are not a big seller for us, but we’ve sold a couple of dozen of them within a couple of weeks,” Hake says.

Beyond the cost of gift certificates the campaign has cost the company $3,000, which it paid to RC Strategies Group, a firm that set up the social networking features for the gardening retailer. “We’re doing the rest of it internally,” Hake says.

The firm’s Facebook page counts about 180 fans, Hake says. To promote the campaign, Outsidepride relied on an e-mail database of 30,000 customers. The company built the database through newsletter subscriptions.

The nine-year-old company annually sells approximately $3 million, Hake says.

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