Mashable.com is currently running a great story about Julie Smolyansky, who inherited the position of CEO at the company her parents started in 2002, and was responsible for deciding the company’s direction at the tender age of 27. Since then, annual sales have increased from $12 million to $80 million and Lifeway Foods’ product has never been more popular. Smolyansky attributes much of this success to her early adoption of social media management. So what is the trendy product that has been embraced by internet users? Kefir, an ancient fermented milk drink. Not exactly the stereotypical subject of online popularity.
The product is made by introducing special ‘Kefir grains’, which are really a mixture of yeast and live bacteria, into milk and allowing the liquid to ferment for 24 hours. The resulting drink is rich in protein and in bacteria, leading some to praise its probiotic effects on the digestive system. Kefir has been around for some 2000 years, and Smolyansky credits its popularity explosion to her adoption of MySpace, Twitter and Facebook at a time when businesses did not commonly use social media services: ‘Everything that we do, we make sure that it’s sharable. We become a friend and a trusted source of information’.
At first, the young CEO attempted to manage the accounts herself alongside her other duties at Lifeway. Having realised that she just did not have the time to effectively engage with potential customers online, she hired a social media management expert in 2009. Nowadays, Lifeway employs 5 social media managers, and Smolyansky seems to suggest that she wishes to expand this even further: ‘We want to do more and more of it. You have to be everywhere’.
Lifeway’s story is an extreme one – few businesses can realistically hope to turn over $80 million each year. This case study does, though, illustrate the potential power of active social media management. If you want to explore the possibilities that social media could hold for your business, give us a call.
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