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Do you have a ‘traditional’ product or service that you think won’t do well using social media platforms? Think again.

Idea Paint - make any wall a whiteboard

I just came across Idea Paint and not only love the idea of the product, but admire how they are using social media platforms to build a community. For me, whiteboards always inspire creativity and brainstorming. They BEG to have great ideas written on them in rainbow colors. It was a pleasant surprise that the company is ‘online savvy’ as well.

We are going to take down a wallpaper mural in my son’s room sometime soon and a wall of Idea Paint would be perfect! Of course my daughter would want a wall in her room done too.  You can be sure that Idea Paint is at the very top of my list of products to bring into our home because I see that they are a company that ‘gets it‘.

Idea Paint has a unique product. That goes a long way on its own, but they didn’t just assume people would stumble across their paint cans on the shelf at the local home improvement store. What makes their online efforts work?

Don’t Sell, Show & Tell

LOOK how they are using things like their blog, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook & Flickr. They aren’t directly ‘selling’ their product but instead celebrating and publicizing the creativity of their ‘clients’. Yes, they cover the basics about their product, including very helpful videos and FAQs. They aren’t pushing out content on any of these social media platforms yelling “BUY THIS CLICK THIS” but instead let the product and their customers speak for them.

Get Involved & Stay Involved

Idea Paint seems very actively involved in communicating with their customers online. Too many times I’ve seen a ‘dump and run’ of content on social media platforms where companies regurgitate marketing or advertising (or worse yet, press releases) and never bother to check for responses or communicate. Idea Paint shows a genuine interest in being a part of the community of their customers. What does that mean? That means that they care about your outcome not just your purchase. Most companies stop caring after the sale is made, or only care again if there are customer service issues. Idea Paint demonstrates that they want your life or work to be continuously enriched by the use of the product.

It’s not about them, it’s about YOU

Idea Paint hosts a ‘makeover’ contest and utilizes social media platforms to attract applicants and get votes. They also promote pictures and videos taken by customers on the Idea Paint Facebook Page or tag them in Flickr (the ’15 minutes of fame’ trick). You can also browse around their blog and YouTube channel to see that they have interviewed customers and learned about their businesses, not just how they use the Idea Paint product.

Showcase Benefits Not Features

It is not enough to show or tell potential customers that your product comes in three colors and five sizes. What is important to showcase is how your customers life or work will be improved because of it. Shoes that sell comfort aren’t selling comfort, they are selling an experience. Idea Paint is selling an experience as well – the experience of productive brainstorming sessions at work with your team, creative playtime for your kids in their own living space, a retail space that allows you to customize an experience for your own customers. Are they selling paint? No.

Strategy vs. Organic

I only know of Idea Paint through what I can see or read online about them – both published by the company and their customers. I have no inside knowledge of their ‘social media strategy’ plan, assuming there is one. Some aspects of what Idea Paint does is absolutely structured, the Makeover contest for example. They didn’t fall into YouTube or Twitter either. But outside of creating accounts and filling out the profiles, there is strong evidence of an ‘organic’ feel and communication style to them. Here’s a ‘pro’ tip: you need both strategy/structure and an organic flow to what you do online. Creating accounts and either ‘winging it’ or ‘just see what happens’ are the quickest ways to fail. But if you plan and approve and edit every interaction you have online, you will also fail.

Now it’s your turn

How can you look at Idea Paint and tweak your online efforts? Does anything about their efforts resinate with you?

PS – Now I just need a free weekend and some friends over to help me strip down 11 year old wallpaper!!