This post is part of our series where we talk to real companies (and other organizations) around the world to find out how they’re leveraging social media, how it has impacted their business, and what lessons they’ve learned. Today I’m talking with Jackie Kaufenberg, Marketing Manager at Altimate Medical, makers of EasyStand Standers. Check them out at EasyStand.com or follow them on Twitter here.
Tell me a little about your company, what you do, how long you’ve been in business, how many employees you have, etc.
I have been the Marketing Manager at Altimate Medical, Inc. for twelve and a half years. The company has been in business for 22 years and has 35 employees. The product that we make is called the EasyStand standing frame. It is medical equipment that helps kids and adults who use wheelchairs to stand up for medical and psychological reasons. We sell our standers in 35 countries worldwide. It is great to work for a company that helps so many people.
How much of your business comes from the web, either via social media or via traditional web?
The web has been increasingly more important to our business over the years. We sell our products through medical equipment suppliers, so it is important for us to convey a consistent message to our suppliers, referral sources, and consumers. Over the past five years, we have seen a decrease in the requests for our traditional printed catalog and an increase in our web visitors. More people are finding everything they need online and know that our website is the most current place to find it.
When did you start engaging in social media?
Our first website in 1997 actually had a message board on it. That was our very first “dabble” in a form of social media. In early 2008, we started with a MySpace page and YouTube Channel. We already had a bunch of great videos to put on YouTube from our free “Life After Spinal Cord Injury” videos that we made a while back. It was neat to see the Life After SCI videos remain popular, from VHS, to DVD, to online. In August of 2008, the EasyStand Blog went live. It has been great for SEO, and a wonderful tie-in to our email newsletter and social media efforts. Then in early 2009, we jumped on board the Facebook train, right around the time they implemented the “Fan Pages”. We had accounts in Twitter and Flickr for a little while, but had difficulty finding the time to really make the most of them. We began to put more time into them in the last half of 2009, and now we have a great base of followers on Twitter, many who have become resources to us. Our fans and subscribers on YouTube and Facebook have also blossomed.
Who manages your social media efforts?
I mostly manage the blog, Twitter and Facebook efforts. We have two people in our media department that head up the efforts in Flickr and YouTube since those social media sites are directly tied into what they are doing everyday with photography and video. Our blog consists of many different authors, both employees of Altimate Medical, and outside of the office.
What networks are you active on? Which have been the biggest drivers of business for you?
We are on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and Flickr. We also post twice weekly on the EasyStand Blog. I also have a Linkedin account that has helped me to expand my professional network. I think that Facebook and YouTube have been the biggest drivers of business for us so far. We have had great success with getting our videos viewed and high referral rates back to our main website. We have also had great success with our blog, which has helped us to grow our overall web visitors and overall search engine referral rate.
Describe any customer interactions that stick out in your mind:
On Twitter, I began following a mom who had a child with special needs. One of her tweets was about how her son hated to stand in every stander that she had tried him in. We had just release a new stander for kids that seemed to address some of the problems that her son was having with previous standers. We tweeted back and forth a couple times, and she ended up trying the new Bantam stander. She even submitted it to her insurance, got denied, appealed, and won. Her son got the stander, and she blogged about it and posted photos. She has since became a fan on our Facebook page, and even wants to participate in a customer story as well.
What software tools or web apps do you use in your social media efforts?
I have played around with several tools, and right now I love Hoot Suite. It solves a lot of my problems by integrating multiple accounts on Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook. It also allows me to schedule tweets out and tracks stats.
For your business, what makes social media different from other channels?
Unlike mass marketing channels, social media really lets you develop relationships. I have “met” people across the globe that use our products or want to buy our products through social media. Many win/win relationships have been made. Instead of focusing on a list of thousands of people (like direct mail or print advertising) we are creating a high probability for a one-one relationship. And when we are lucky, a customer will share the great experiences they had with your company with other potential customers, via social media.
What has been the most challenging part of dealing with social media?
The most challenging part of social media is creating efficiencies. Social media can eat up a lot of your time if you don’t have the right tools and a plan. The key for us, is taking what we are already doing in our traditional marketing efforts, and pushing it over to social media.
What are your social media plans for 2010?
We are going to use Hoot Suite to keep updating our fan base with relevant information and links. We are also going to continue to put media on YouTube and Flickr. We are experimenting with Facebook advertising, which seems to drive up our fan base quickly for very little cost. Our blog will remain front and center, with new posts at least twice a week to keep our readers interested.
Much thanks to Jackie for taking the time to talk to us. Don’t forget to check out EasyStand.com and follow them on Twitter here. We’re always looking for interesting companies and individuals to talk to, so if you know of anyone that would like to be profiled, please contact us.