Small shoe e-tailer builds database through Facebook app

Online eco-footwear company Sanuk views its builds contact list by more than 5,000 organically, so far.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

If you handle marketing or customer outreach activities for your small business, your reality is this: it is probably just one of the jobs you handle. That's certainly the case for Rachel Gross, social media and public relations manager for Sanuk, and it's the main reason she opted for NorthSocial, a platform for creating Facebook applications.

Sanuk copy

"It's not intimidating and it's not hard to use," Gross said. "This stuff can't be too hard. I am not a graphics designer or a Web designer."

Sanuk, based in Irvine, Calif., is using its Facebook company page, which has more than 113,000 fans, to help build its customer community. It has built that fan base entirely through organic means, aka no advertising.

An ongoing example of how Sanuk has pulled this off is its "Summer Mystery Box Sweepstakes." There's nothing all that special or expensive about the sweepstakes: the company is using swag that has showed up in its office as giveaways for the winners, Gross said. Fans enter by answering questions related to the Sanuk brand or products. So, for example, Sanuk can find out why certain shoes sell while others languish.

The sweepstakes helps dramatically with engagement, she said. "We have garnered all sorts of information about our customers as a result," Gross said.

While Sanuk chose NorthSocial for its ease of use and do-it-yourself features, Gross said the fact that the company also offers custom creative services was also enticing -- in case there is a time in the future when her company wants to grow beyond the basics.

The pricing for NorthSocial is based on the number of fans that your page supports: The current highest level is Enterprise for $150 per month, but you can start at the Entrepreneur level for less than $20 per month

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