How to grow +40,000%
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How to grow +40,000%

Ideeli is the fastest growing company on the list of Inc. magazine’s list of the 500 fastest growing U.S. companies.

How are Ideeli and the rest of these rapidly growing companies succeeding? Certainly not by investing heavily in traditional approaches. The changing techniques can be seen in a study by the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (UMASSD) which analyzed the usage of social media in these companies as well as in the Fortune 500. It reported that the use of social media has increased tremendously but the use of blogging decreased from 2007-2011.

Utilization of social media platforms has been increasing. Facebook was used by 74% of the Inc. 500, followed by LinkedIn (73%), Twitter (64%) and YouTube (45%). This was the first year the UMASSD study included LinkedIn, which debuted virtually equal to Facebook in its popularity among these companies. The majority of respondents reported their use of these social media tools as being “successful”. The exceptions were Foursquare and Myspace.

To see trends in the use of various social techniques, click on the radio buttons.

When executives were asked if their company plans to increase their investment in social media, 25% said they would keep their social media budget the same, while the other 71% plan to increase their investment. Only 1 company (4%) plan to decrease their investment.

Companies are increasing their focus on marketing through social media because, in short, it works. By using social media the companies can create more timely and relevant web content which boosts web traffic because of backlinking with live news feeds. Examples of these live feeds can be seen in Facebook’s news feed ticker and Twitter’s software program Tweetdeck. Increasing the number of backlinks to a site and keeping it updated with fresh content improve a site’s SEO rankings.

Facebook ticker and Tweetdeck

The left half of this image shows the Facebook’s news feed ticker, and the right half shows Tweetdeck’s user interface.

When asked how they measured the effectiveness of their social media efforts, executives reported using fans, followers and supporters (26%), web traffic (25%), lead generation (16%), reduced cost of customer support (10%), and the value of sales generated through social media programs (7%) as their analytical tools. Ten percent cited other measures including Google Analytics. grew an astonishing 40,882% over three years making it #1 in the 2011 list of top 500 private companies. They have this status by maintaining a consistent stream of updated content (in this case, their products), and integrating this with a social media incentive program.

Ideeli gives $25 to every customer who invites a friend that makes a purchase on the site. This is a key feature of their site’s online marketing, because it encourages ongoing site registration as well as $25 of ‘fertilization’ for organic registration growth.

marketing social incentive ideeli

Ideeli’s $25 incentive for customers to invite more of others.

After posting this invite to their personal Facebook Wall for all of their friends to see, the viewer might be inclined to participate on the branded Facebook Page.  It has an attractive landing page that encourages viewers to “Like” their page and flip to the “Wall,” where they can interact with a community of like-minded shoppers.

Sharing incentive post to facebook

This window pops up when the link to share the incentive on Facebook is clicked on.

Ideeli post shared to wall.

The result is a post that features a product and description of Ideeli’s website that other users are encouraged to “Like” and “Share” from the sharing customer’s “Wall.”

Ideeli's Facebook landing page.

Ideeli’s attractive Facebook landing page. Users who click on any links to the Ideeli Facebook page will arrive at this page first.

Ideeli sets an example that other brands can follow. They treat their products as interesting, valuable, and worthy of being shared with others. They create a constant stream of content, product updates, and incentives that can be easily read and understood. Their website makes it easy for customers to quickly fit this content into their own social media streams.

Customers may also share individual items to their social media accounts.

The opportunities to propel remarkable growth are increasing. You need to start with a clear brand focus and then use innovative methods to spread the word.

If you would like to discuss your brand building strategy and how to leverage social media, please email or