The Case of the Missing Wallet: How to Use Social Media to Save the Day

I thought this was a really important article to repost on my blog and I’ve kindly asked the author, Kyra Savolainen to grant me permission to do so. If you’re still wondering about the power of social media, look no further. This one says it all. Thanks Kyra

Social Media win starts with a walk in the park

In late August, one of my most innovative clients successfully turned to social media to execute a manhunt. The man they sought was Steven Neil Crawford.

After lunching in Toronto’s Brant St Park, I returned to work holding a wallet with Steven’s name all over it.  A call to notify Toronto Police that the wallet had been found proved frustrating. So, I fired up my personal social networks in the hopes that at least one of my friends would be able to connect me with Steven. After a round of Google searches and call outs on Facebook and Twitter, a mutual acquaintance had yet to be found.

Meanwhile, Steven, a young post-production assistant at a local animation studio, was busy cancelling cards and wondering if his identity would turn up on some no-fly list in a year. He knew he had lost his wallet sometime during an exciting night out with friends, but didn’t know where. It looked like Steven might just have to pass the long weekend without his identification and other cards. (No lost wallet report was filed with Police.)

Social savvy Client to the rescue

Realizing that my own social reach wasn’t broad enough, I eyed the brand’s social media channels with hope. What better way to help establish this self-proclaimed ‘edgy and bold’ brand in the social space and prove the value of its motto based on non-conformist thought than to find Steven through its community of friends and fans online and reunite him with his property before the long weekend.

With one Tweet, the real social media rescue mission began.

“Hey Toronto, one of you lost your wallet (and I found it).  Anybody know Steven Neil Crawford?”

The brand’s friends echoed the call. Even @PepsiCanada threw in its support.

Success by numbers

The same message was posted to the official Facebook Fan Page. Results came fast, once the brand took up the cause of finding Steven. Within a day, a fan named Maria saw the call for help on Facebook and dug up a profile. It was a winner. (The requested reward? Gift cards from the brand.)

After contacting Steven and adding him as a friend on Facebook in order to verify his identity, I sat down with the eloquent youth in the same park where the wallet had been found. We chatted over a Client-sponsored lunch, touching on the lost/found/social media connection coincidence before barrelling off into more expansive, timely topics – it had been a full two days, afterall. (Aside: Who says there’s no such thing as a ‘free lunch’ or that social media is merely ephemeral hype? I pity the foo.)

In a matter of only 2 days, my client’s commitment to connecting with Canadians at the personal level clearly demonstrated the value of social media for brands and the public at large.  With just 220 Fans on Facebook and a Twitter following of less than 500 at the time of the event, Client X managed to demonstrate the true, simple value of social media to brands and the public at large.  We were personable, we were adventurous, we were helpful, and above all, we were social. And it worked. (And when I say ‘worked,’ what I really mean is ‘eat my dust, yammering display media.’)

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