If you live in Monmouth County and are active on Twitter, you know @EatontownBB. John Knoeppel (as he’s known in the real world) successfully changed many of our minds regarding big box retailer Best Buy through his innovative use of Twitter.
Circuit City’s bankruptcy left the Jersey Shore area without a large nationwide electronics retailer. P.C. Richards moved into the Circuit City space in Eatontown but just didn’t have the price and marketing power of a chain like Best Buy. So when I noticed @EatontownBB tweeting last July, I immediately investigated only to discover that a Best Buy was opening across from Monmouth Mall.
I’d just started promoting AsburyPop at that point and was surprised to receive a tweet from John asking how Best Buy could get involved. I’ve believe you should ask for what you want – the worst they’ll say is no – so I gave John a brief rundown on the event and asked him to suggest how Best Buy could participate. He invited me to the Howell store to meet with him and the management staff of the Eatontown store.
During that meeting, John offered to provide audio for the AsburyPop presentations. Best Buy as a sponsor would lend legitimacy to my fledgling project; I immediately agreed. We also got discussed how we found each other and our varying levels of success using Twitter. Steve Xanthos, General Manager, expressed his skepticism regarding the use of Twitter to promote the Eatontown Best Buy store. We didn’t convince him in that meeting but he was a bit more open to John’s social networking experiment.
Little did Steve know just how successful @EatontownBB would be!
By the time the store opened, our perception of Best Buy radically changed. Best Buy had a personality and staff that lived in our area. In fact, one of my students who is also active on Twitter applied for and got a job at the store after seeing John tweet about open positions. John was impressed with the young man’s musical knowledge and even more enthused when he realized his prospective employee was a Twitterer he actively followed!
Another connection through Twitter, @shoreflicks, set the store up with a number of musical acts for opening week. A local acoustic group on Twitter, @shorethingduo, played one afternoon at the store; in fact, local music talent is showcased every weekend at the Eatontown location.
This rebranding of Best Buy as a community-oriented retailer sensitive to the needs of its customers is the product of one man’s innovative use of Twitter. After using @EatontownBB as a case study in a number of my social media workshops around the County, I thought I’d investigate other large retailers and corporations who used Twitter in the same way.
There aren’t any. Really.
Many individuals and small businesses recognize the power of marketing through social networking sites like Twitter. Just the other day I discussed the use of Twitter with the Managing Editor of a local newspaper. She immediately saw how Twitter could be used to reach new and existing readers. So why have large companies passed on this opportunity?
At the local level, I wondered in a tweet why our local Borders wasn’t using Twitter in the same way Best Buy did? After all, a new Barnes and Nobel just opened in the mall across the street and must have an impact on their business. Borders itself closed a number of stores over the holidays. Why wasn’t their manager tweeting?
If I ever stop into that Borders Eatontown again, I’ll have to ask…