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Creativity = good social media marketing

When it comes to social media, it’s not enough to simply fulfill the requirement. You must be creative.

Anyone can create a Facebook page or a Twitter account (and many people do). But the risk is that your marketing efforts will fall into the 80 percent of the pack that goes through the motions without any innovation or passion.

The best advice I can give you is simply this: Have fun with it.

Take the online retailers of Cyber Monday, for instance.

Word-of-mouth marketing

Ever heard of Alice.com? It’s an online marketplace in beta that specializes in household products like laundry detergent, shampoo and diapers. By circumventing the typical supply chain, the direct-to-consumer Web site saves manufacturers money and passes on the savings to customers: There’s free shipping on every order of toilet paper and deodorant.

The site even reminds you when you’re due to run out of a product and finds relevant coupons to apply to your odor — er, order.

On Monday, “Alice” wasn’t alone in offering a discount of 15 percent on gift cards to e-mail subscribers. Lots of companies fed into the white noise of “special offers” on Monday.

What Alice.com did differently was to incentivize recipients to share the deal with others on their Facebook account by offering them double — 30 percent — if they did so.

By requiring that users share the deal by clicking on a “Share on Facebook” prompt on the Alice.com gift card page, the Web site owners could track the data and administer discounts accordingly in real time.

Word-of-mouth marketing — whether it consists literally of spoken recommendations or through Web-based means — can make or break a new retail outlet, whether it’s Alice.com or a new brick-and-mortar store.

Big reach, low budget

Take the new IKEA in Malmo, Sweden. When the store opened in mid-November, the advertising agency Forsman and Bodenfors ingeniously used Facebook to drum up interest. It created a profile page for the store manager, Gordon Gustavsson. Then it announced (to the elite group of early adopter-friends) a photo-tagging giveaway.

Gustavsson’s friends had the chance to tag themselves as pieces of furniture in photos of the new store. The first user to tag each product received the item for free. News spread beyond the core group of followers as the photo tags appeared on the public news feed of users’ Facebook home pages.

Gustavsson now has almost 1,200 Facebook friends. On top of that, the coup scored media coverage on popular blogs and was shared on social networks.

F&B’s art director, Adam Ulvegarde, told Brandrepublic.com that the idea of using Facebook was to reach an audience beyond Malmo, regardless of its low budget.

“The Malmo store is the most modern store to date and we wanted everyone in Sweden to know about it, but [we had] limited means,” he explained.

High online sales

Cyber Monday sales may have wowed — this year’s event beat last year’s by 13.7 percent. According to Coremetrics, consumers bought nearly 10 percent more items per order on Cyber Monday 2009 compared to Black Friday 2009 and nearly 30 percent more than on Cyber Monday 2008.

Although many of these sales went to established brands like Amazon.com and clothing or jewelry retailers, the “little guys” were more likely to get noticed by showcasing a little creativity.

Try it sometime.

Jackie Sauter is a Web marketing professional with the Kogod School of Business at American University. Follow her on Twitter @jackiesauter.