My online company makes wicking sleepwear for women who sleep too hot due to night sweats. I spend a lot of time on social media websites in groups of my customers' demographics, but I am not seeing a profitable ROI of my time. How can I convert Facebook and/or Twitter followers into customers? I offer promotions already. Should I continue to spend the time?

Haralee Weintraub, CEO,, Portland, Ore.


You are putting on a show. To succeed, you need to recruit talented and engaging people to tell your story, preferably those with more friends than you have.

This means your time lurking online can be better spent building relationships with the key voices from those sites. Since you likely already know these folks by name, start offline conversations with them and build relationships. Learn what they care and write about. Then help them get to know your product offerings.

If it sounds like you would be treating people like a reporter or editor, that's because it's effectively media relations on a ­different scale.

You may also look at the content these key community voices create and then decide how you can best put your product in their hands.

One would hope that sample use leads to endorsements, but you should encourage these community leaders to be open about the fact that they received free products. It might seem like this would work against both your offering and the reviewer, but a number of studies and anecdotal evidence suggest the opposite.

Ultimately, your role will be to stay engaged primarily with these thought leaders in your online market, and loosely monitor the sites for evolving trends and changes. This should take much less time than your current activity, and seem a lot less creepy.

About the author

Mike Porter, Ed.D., director, Master of Business Communication program, University of St. Thomas, Opus College of Business