Here is the most colorful social media success story you’ll ever read!

The story starts with paint. Colorful … get it? I crack myself up.

My friend Julie Boney became tired of painting splotches all over her walls every time she wanted to re-decorate. So she invented a product called “Small Wall” that allows decorators to paint a small board and then post it on a wall like a post-it note. It’s easy and won’t harm the walls.

To market her clever invention, Julie sensed social media might help but needed direction.  She decided her primary objective was brand awareness so I walked her through some fundamental strategies.

The first step was finding meaningful, targeted followers on the social web — people and publications who would be interested in her idea.  That way, she would be delivering content and building relationships with people who mattered, people who would love her story. We also talked about strategies for engaging with these audiences in a helpful and authentic way.

One targeted publication was Woman’s Day magazine, which features lots of home-oriented tips. After Woman’s Day published an article about “try before you buy,” Julie commented on their Facebook page, suggesting that her Small Wall invention was an excellent solution to the problem of selecting paint colors.  Within an hour, she had a response from the magazine’s editor-in-chief Elizabeth Mayhew, asking for samples!

In October, the Nashville-based Small Wall was featured prominently in a Woman’s Day Online decorating feature (see graphic above) and in the January 2011 print edition, Small Wall is once again the star of an article on decorating tips for the new year.

“This is exposure we never could have afforded through traditional advertising methods,” Julie said. “It made me a believer in the power of the social web for small businesses.”

And Julie’s success is just beginning.  A Facebook connection also resulted in the product being discussed on a Martha Stewart broadcast and now Martha is following her on Twitter (Martha follows less than 1%of her followers)

Publicity like this has been helpful introducing Small Wall with zero expenditures and pulling through sales at Sherwin-Williams, Ace Hardware and Amazon.com.

A key lesson is that both print and online publications have an insatiable hunger for content and are scouring the social web for ideas, connections, experts, angles and quotes. But you can’t take advantage of this opportunity if you’re invisible or not actively connecting and engaging.

The social web can be a great equalizer for small businesses if you apply a little know-how, creativity and content!

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