For those of you who have followed along with our America's Most Social Small Business challenge, you know that it's been a fierce competition from the get-go, with 32 small businesses all over the country duking it out to claim the title of the most socially savvy.
After some tough choices and hours of deliberation, the championship round has arrived. In this final match-up, we examined the social presences of our final two competitors — Sevenly, a cause-oriented apparel company, and Plated, a chef-designed food delivery service — in order to determine which, in fact, is most deserving of the title.
The final showdown
Both companies in our final showdown (and, in fact, all the companies within the competition) are excellent examples of how to make social media work for a small business: These brands are champions at interacting with their respective online audiences, maintaining thoughtful customer service online, posting interesting and relevant content that is valuable (and not exclusively self-promotional), mastering brand voice, utilizing images and visuals, including user-generated content to grow and maintain an active and engaged online audience.
It's notable that both of the companies in the final championship are ecommerce brands, highlighting that when businesses exist exclusively online, the messaging needs to be up to par. When there is no in-store community or atmosphere, brands must create instead a powerful presence online — a feat that both Plated and Sevenly have accomplished admirably.
In the end, Sevenly emerges victorious. We're thoroughly impressed with the brand's numerous campaigns as well as its cause-oriented approach to social marketing. The brand has an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest and Tumblr. While the company utilizes some platforms more heavily than others, its overall presence is nothing short of inspiring.
Fans of Sevenly who have been with the company from the beginning are truly an important part of the Sevenly story — at its inception, Sevenly included customers in the brand's processes and created a high standard of transparency, which has been upheld throughout the brand's steady growth.
In the weeks after launch, Sevenly posted photos of the checks the company was able to donate to different causes, ensuring that fans knew exactly where their money was going ($7 out of each sale is donated to a different cause or charity), and thus laid the groundwork for a strong, trusting foundation of the now-impressive Sevenly community. In just three years, the company has amassed a huge, passionate following with its "People Matter" mantra — and fans are very vocal about their support.
With a glance at any of the brand's social platforms, it is evident that Sevenly is truly connecting people around the world. Though our competition isn't about how amazing each company's message or mission is — it's about how they utilize social to get that message across — it's clear that a brand with as inspirational a mantra and purpose as Sevenly's resonates well with the online community. Yes, Sevenly is trying to sell clothes; but ultimately, its larger aim is to change the world, and social media helps to makes this lofty goal possible.
"We launched with a Facebook Page first and didn't even have a dot-com site until the business started to grow. Using mostly social media, we have now raised over $3 million for charity in just two years, impacting the lives of over 1 million people. If you ask our world-changers, the majority of them will say that they first heard about Sevenly through social media," the company tells Mashable.
Congratulations to Sevenly on the win. We'll be in touch regarding the grand prize.