Monday, November 22, 2010

How Social Media Sent Me To Japan

I often see requests for case studies on how businesses use Social Media effectively. I offer up a recent experience I personally had as an example. I want to be as honest as I can about this - there is a trick in this story. I'll tell you the trick at the bottom of the article.

I write another blog, Okazu. It's a blog attached to my avocation, the promotion, creation and publication of Japanese comics. To be very specific, I promote, create, publish and review Japanese comics and animation with lesbian themes. I state this only so you can understand how small the niche I'm positioned in is. My blog is the oldest in the world on the topic and I bring a fairly unique perspective to the issue.

There is a series of novels from Japan that are pretty popular there and mostly all but unheard of here in the West. Recently, a live-action movie was made of the first of these novels. Of course I wanted to go see it, but didn't expect to be able to.

I was on Twitter, discussing it with a friend from Japan. He originally emailed me because of my blog. We've stayed in touch by Twitter and email.

My friend let me know that he had purchased one of the commemorative tickets to the movie for me, so I could get the extras that came with them. Of course I thanked him and immediately started to look up prices for flights. My friend was in a particularly silly mood that night - everything I posted on Twitter, he relayed again, in Japanese. I commented that I would come for the movie, but that flights were more expensive than I was comfortable with. Actually, what I said involved the phrase "highway robbery." He cheerfully translated that I felt the airfares were too high. And then he started to tease me - if only one of your fans would fly you to Japan to see the movie! I posted back that I would certainly go, if someone flew me over...

...and a fan of mine tweeted that she would sponsor me.

Which is how, not two months later, I was able to stand on line in Osaka, Japan and see that movie.

I am not joking about any of this, or making any part of it up. But I did say there was a trick.

The trick is...the story starts almost nine years ago.

Nine years ago I started Okazu. I have been posting reviews, news, opinion pieces, discussions guest columns there for nine years. For nine years, I've been building a readership, a following, a fan base and, for good or bad, a reputation.

The trick here is that Social Media is about building relationships and developing them over time. I met both my Japanese friend and my benefactor a few years ago and we have communicated through email, Facebook, Twitter, sometimes phone, ever since.

This is not an overnight success story - it's not a story about ROI. This is a story about how Social Media really works.

P.S. - The movie was excellent. (^_^)b
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