Twittering on

Business taps ready-made communities

On the back of Luke Nicholas’s business card are web addresses for Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and other social networking sites. Even the website for his fledgling boutique beer company directs traffic to these online chat shops. Nicholas’s approach is unusual. Where most companies focus on encouraging traffic (that is, online visits) to their own websites, Nicholas uses the online world to tap into ready-made communities of millions of people, and it appears to be working.

With no money for marketing, but a passion for technology, Nicholas launched Epic Beer online in May 2006. Today, through online-word-of-mouth alone, his turnover is more than $1 million a year, up a massive 200% in the last 12 months, and climbing. “It’s just been insane,” he says. When the online community find you and like you, he explains, they are not only loyal customers, they are your best salespeople.

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