May 26, 2010, 9:18 AM throws a virtual social network party

Since the virtual party was held, the retailer says it has counted $1,500 in sales., which sells consumer home storage and organization products, hosted a virtual party on social networks Facebook and Twitter to kick off the National Hardware Show. During the party which drew 1,500 registered guests, hosts tweeted and posted questions asked participants about their favorite projects and to share their organizing tips. Prizes were awarded to participants every 10 to 15 minutes.

“Social marketing is powerful, it’s contagious and it brings measurable results,” says Deborah Shearer, vice president of marketing and merchandising at, No. 486 in the <a href="">Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide</a>. “Long before social media was the latest buzz word in marketing, people asked each other for advice before they made purchasing decisions. Fast forward to today where everyone has a voice through social media web sites, blogs and chat rooms and you can see what the power of social media really is today.”

E-mailed party invitations included the address Twitter guests would go to on the TweetGrid and a hashtag for signing in. A hashtag, which includes the pound sign before a word, is used to organize groups of tweets on Twitter. TweetGrid is an independent site that enables users to create a search dashboard that lets members search topics or hashtags in real time. During the party,’s sixth in the past year and the first one involving Facebook, the retailer had 2,000 interactions with participants. After the party, participants were given coupons for $5 off orders of $25 or more at, good until end of July. Since the virtual party was held on May 4, the retailer says it has counted $1,500 in sales from customers who redeemed the coupons.

After a virtual party the retailer held in December, had $18,000 in sales connected to the party. However, to Shearer the value from the social network events is in strengthening customer relationships.

“It’s about brand recognition and bringing in new customers and introducing them to the brand,” she says. “When it comes to social networking and marketing I don’t worry so much about sales, but what value—such as tips and ideas—we’re giving customers. And then sales will come later.”

Next week, is planning to hold a party on Facebook with kitchen and household tools maker OXO.

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