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5 ways to create a social experiment for your small business

By Tasha Cunningham

TashaThe global marketplace is crowded. There are many companies that do exactly what you do. To distinguish your company from the crowd, one of the best things you can do is think like the major brands.

 One of the most interesting trends being used by major brands to attract their customers’ attention is creating social experiments. What’s a social experiment? Essentially, it’s an experiment designed to find out how people think.

For example, a creative experiment conducted by the Honest Tea Company in 2011 and in 2012 involved placing unmanned kiosks filled with bottles of iced tea at popular locations in 30 cities across the country. The sign on the kiosk encouraged passersby to take a bottle and leave a dollar.
Honest Tea was using the honor system to find out what U.S. cities had the most honest residents.

 Cameras were set up at kiosks in each city so that people could log on to the Honest Tea website and
see, in real-time, if people were being honest. The company even created an Honesty Index, which detailed the results of the experiment and ranked which cities had the most honest residents. Honest Tea’s social experiment garnered a lot of media attention for the company and raves about the ingenuity of it from social media and public relations pros.

What Honest Tea did was genius. It’s a call to action for small business owners to create their own low-cost social experiments to attract new customers. But how do you go about developing a social experiment in the first place? Will it cost a lot of money? To help you get started, BizBytes developed
a list of five cost-effective ways you can create a social experiment for your small business.

1. Create your own reality show. Once you’ve decided on your experiment, create a video channel on  YouTube, Vimeo, Ustream or another video sharing platform, stream your experiment live on your website and encourage people to interact, post comments and tell you what they think about what you’re doing. Be sure to shoot the experiment from the perspective of a person who is participating so that viewers get a birds’ eye view of what you’re doing.

2. Tell the world something about human nature. Take a cue from Honest Tea and use your experiment to find out what people would do in a particular situation. Once you have the results of
your experiment, create a press release and let the media know what you’ve learned about human nature.

3. Use public access TV to promote your experiment. Public access television is a great free way to
promote your experiment. Try partnering with the public access TV providers in your area to see if they’ll help you get the word out by airing your experiment live on their channels.

4. Share the fun and do some good. Consider partnering with a nonprofit as part of your experiment. Consider incorporating a donation component when money is raised for your favorite charity.

5. Create a “Lessons Learned” e-book about your experiment. Once your experiment is over, people will be interested in what you learned. Consider creating and distributing a free e-book detailing what you did, why it worked and what you accomplished as a result.

For more social experiment strategies, log on to www.BizBytes101.com.