I first discovered Orabrush at the yearly YouTube conference, VidCon in 2010. It was hard not to notice their mascot, a goofy guy dressed appropriately as a tongue wandering among the YouTube stars, video bloggers and tween fans.
So you might be wondering how a tongue cleaner could break through the noise and use YouTube to boost online sales and get retailers Wal-Mart and CVS on board? Spokesperson, Austin Craig, gave me the lowdown on how they took their product from complete obscurity to 30 million YouTube views, 270,000 Facebook fans and 300,000 iPhone app downloads.
- What inspired Orabrush to jump into the social media world?
It wasn't inspiration, it was necessity. Dr. Bob Wagstaff, the inventor of Orabrush's tongue scraper, had tried everything. He went to stores and begged them to put it on the shelves. Even when stores picked it up, no customers were interested. He spent $40,000 on an infomercial that produced fewer than 100 sales. But Bob knew that the web was a growth space, and wanted to sell there.
- When did you start using YouTube and Facebook to engage community?
Our real push started at the end of Summer 2009, with the help of our CMO Jeffrey Harmon. We filmed a couple videos that summer, and one of them, "the Bad Breath Test video," increased sales significantly when embedded on our site. It was also a video that got shared quite a bit. We pushed it hard using YouTube's paid search. People could get their first Orabrush free if they liked us on Facebook and subscribed on YouTube. Our audience just grew and grew with that campaign.
- What was your social media 'aha moment'?
We had been testing the Promoted Video platform on YouTube for several weeks -- spending $30 per day on Promoted Video ads. Our goal was to at least break-even after covering all of our costs. It took several weeks of constant tweaks and testing, but, one day, we made back more than we spent. We knew we had finally cracked the code.
- How has social media helped your business?
Before we used YouTube and Facebook, Orabrush didn't have any sales, online or offline. Social media is how we do virtually everything. We drive sales by targeting consumers, but we've even used YouTube and Facebook to pitch to retailers we want to work with. We do our market research on Facebook, we do focus groups on Google+, and of course we make YouTube videos weekly. We also make major company announcements with video.
- What tips would you give others entrepreneurs who want to use social media to grow their business?
Social media is, above all, social. It's about communities and conversations. Get on the platform you want to understand, whether it's Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Twitter or any of the countless others. Find communities that interest you. Start interacting. Learn how the conversations work. Once you understand how it works for the people using it, then you can understand how to talk to them as a brand.