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PizzaBoxes.pngBy B.L. Ochman
As companies scramble to use social media for marketing purposes, an entire industry has sprung up to produce reports, studies, charts, graphs, conferences, videos, books, and courses about social media. But the most important point is often overlooked.
“Social media is just modern tools to do something very basic in business,” says Ramon DeLeon, a managing partner in seven Chicago-area Domino’s franchises, whose folksy wisdom has made him a social media superstar.
He insists he isn’t doing anything truly different than 20 years ago as a pizza delivery driver. It’s still about creating unexpected customer experiences.
Strategy: listen, listen, listen
While many companies think announcing their daily specials on Twitter (yawn) is a social media strategy, DeLeon knows that getting close to the customer consists more of listening than broadcasting.


DeLeon uses social media tools including:
• Twitter–2,754 followers, @ Ramon_DeLeon

• Twitter search

SocialOomph.com
TweetPhoto

TweetDeck

Viddler
.com
Flickr

An overnight success still requires blood, sweat and tears, and social media is no quick fix for anyone’s bottom line.

DeLeon told Social Media Today that he began using the Internet to communicate with customers in 1994 via AOL Instant Messenger, and he’s been offering online ordering since 1998 – seven years before Domino’s corporate.
He sends thank you videos to people who Tweet about him; he got MC Hammer’s autograph as a thank you to a blogger; he re-prints his Tweets and his Twitter handle on the covers of pizza boxes; encourages visitors in his shops to upload photos of themselves to Flickr; sends 350 pizzas to meetings of the Chicago social media club; and generally knocks himself out thanking, delighting, and charming customers.
Domino’s punk’d by social media
Domino’s corporation has yet to repair the damage to done to its image last year when it was punk’d by social media because of a YouTube video. Following his own path, DeLeon, has become a social media legend with a huge and devoted following.
As he recently Tweeted, “The only way to put out a social media fire is with social media water”
Related:
- Lessons from the Amazon and Domino’s Social Media Firestorms

Want more straight talk about social media? Read my latest report: Straight Talk About Social Media: a no-nonsense guide for corporations