CASE STUDY: How @SwankysTacoShop hit it big with #CMchat idea #sm #biz #ROI

October 4th, 2011   •   15 comments   
Photo credit: Hank of @TheGhermGuys

Last week my firm broke new ground in blending business with social media. Just typing this sentence gives me chills–in a good way. New territory, learning and doing is just part of my DNA. Maybe that’s why I love meeting new people and truly have a passion for using social media for business growth. 



My client, @SwankysTacoShop ( asked us to create some buzz (and business) in their Franklin (Nashville, TN) shop. As a regular participant in the most popular chat on Twitter, #CMchat (Country Music Chat) established by the fabulous @JessicaNorthey (see her blog post about this here), I thought why not do a live #CMchat in Swanky’s Franklin, bring in Jessica and create a first-time chat in the store.  At first I thought Steve Shotsberger (@sshotsberger) was going to fire me for being crazy.  Instead, he said, “Amy, that’s a great idea…write it up, get me a budget and we’ll look at doing it.”  The rest is history.

Not only did we get results for Swanky’s, but also Jessica started talking it up and before you know it, we had 7-10 people (probably more) flying and driving from other cities, states and even Canada to participate in this chat.  AMAZING doesn’t do this justice.  I got to meet the fabulous friends @AnnTran_ (here’s a link to her blog post), @joycecherrier, and @MomsOfAmerica as well. You can see all the pictures from other blogs so I won’t recap that in this post. Special thank you to Nashville native and huge promoter of #CMchat, @MelissaOnline.  Another big thanks to @DrBuddyLee; with his help we were able to stream this event live on the web from Swanky’s on Ustream.


Jessica Northey with @DrBuddyLee

A last minute surprise and twist was author, friend and wonderful teacher, @MarkWSchaefer‘s announcement that he wanted to come and see this for himself.  He did; Now this is key for me as Mark and I have worked together and he’s a good critic.  I knew if he saw this live #CMchat for himself, he’d give me some good, constructive feedback. This is the man who told me a year ago, “Amy! Your blog content is great but your blog sucks as a format.”  I fixed it fast and love Mark for telling me the truth and always helping me.

Mark Schaefer and the ladies of #CMchat Franklin

Now, onto the ROI for Swanky’s and the reasons why every business that ignores this is nuts.  There are so many great benefits that I’m just going to bullet point them:

* Increased followers by the hundreds and continued benefit from tweets.

Nice feedback from @StephenCaggiano

* Packed the house: Steve Shotsberger told me #CMchat was extremely successful and generated great sales. What?? I SAID IT: SALES, BABY! THERE’S the ROI for you CFOs!

* Not only did we do this in the Franklin store, but I also drove this crew back to Memphis for round #2. Double your pleasure, thank you very much!

* New faces in the house.  Swanky’s saw new visitors who will surely return.  Building relationships with your current and future customers is an essential part of the social movement.

@LewisPoretz, myself, & @CharlotteAutry

*Publicity: five blog posts, hundreds of pictures and counting…the vibe is still going.  Google Swanky’s and note the difference a week & an event like this can make!

*Future events for Swanky’s: we had some great artists in the house and performing at both chats.  Management liked what they heard and there are talks of booking the artists to perform again.  A big shout out to @ben_gallaher, @leegibsonmusic, @CraigMoritz and @natalieharperPR, and everyone else who shared their talents with us.

The Howell Team with the very talented Ben Gallaher

* “In real life” fan creation.  Swanky’s has real friends who are talking to them on Twitter and they’ll keep talking.  Our strategy: #CMchat is now part of Swanky’s Monday night menu items! And, we’ve recommended that Monday nights (typically slower for most restaurants) be “Music Monday”.

*The fans are asking for more locations…Swanky’s might see Twitter as a research tool for feasibility studies on expansion ideas down the road.

@Celebbuzzz checking in with Lacey & Kiersten

*Great training experience for the Swanky’s team as well as my own team. Special thanks to Lindsey, Lacey, and Kiersten for all the assist. I took two of my staff to Nashville to participate and learn–all in all it meant two days out of the office, which is clearly an investment in social and our learning by doing.

Swanky’s Team chatting with Jessica on the UStream

*STATS: Over 110 million impressions for #CMchat this week.  Staggering!

Statistical data courtesy of @hashtracking.

This case study is a perfect example of how you can successfully combine SOCIAL with traditional media to create awareness, new customers and revenue for a business.  We’d like to think we’ll be doing this a lot and who knows where we’ll take this show next time? Jessica and I are forming #CMchat Live.  Join us, won’t you?

If you’d like to know how to schedule a #CMchat for your brand, business or event…contact me at Team Howell by emailing me: or call us 901-521-1453.


  1. I can't even begin to describe how amazing this whole event was! It was so exciting to meet everyone in person–taking online relationships to the next step. Not only am I now a huge Swanky's fan (great food and awesome staff) but love this whole idea! The stats are unreal, and you and Jessica are a powerhouse duo!! I learned so much from both of you!

  2. AnnTran_ says:

    CONGRATS Amy! Excellent Tweet-ups in Nashville and Memphis. I enjoyed the events as well as your wonderful hospitality. I hope to head back there this year 😀 Thank YOU!

  3. geekbabe says:

    I totally enjoyed every minute of the Swanky’s #cmchat tweet up's. it was terrific to see so many social media getting together in real time! Oh & Swanky’s can open a location in Boston anytime! 🙂

  4. Amy Howell says:

    Joyce: You are a dynamic machine yourself! Thank you for making the trip and spending your time with us…Think of what we could really do together (Power Tweeters unite–ha).

    Ann: I hope you are wearing those cowboy boots my friend! The reason you are not in the picture with Mark Schaefer is because you TOOK the picutre and thank you so much. Your photography is incrediblie as well as your kindness. You are wanted and welcome in TN anytime my friend.

    Geekbabe Jean: I love your Twitter handle and all the tweets were awesome. Twitter chats make it possible to "feel" like you are there–we'll have to come to Boston! Don't ask, because we'll come:) Thanks for all the tweets. You rock!

  5. This was an exceptional event and experience. You and Jessica are visionary for pursuing this kind of event. Congrats!!!

  6. One of America's first power tweeters is blazing new trails again. A true entrepreneur who gets that risk and experimentation are all part of the game that she plays so well. Kudos, Amy – delighted to hold you out as an example of #bestinthebusiness again. Will be using your case study in my Entrepreneurial Web Marketing class in the spring.

  7. Amy Howell says:

    Mark: Thank you for coming and I hope you didn't mind being photographed with all the beautiful women in #cmchat. Congrats back at ya on all your success–2012 is gonna be big!

    Kathy: Thank you for all you do and I love it that you are teaching future social media entrepreneurs; Very important to future businesses. I hope you'll come to #soSlam in Knoxville in the Spring…It's going to be awesome and many of our "crew" will likey be there. All the best to you and I am grateful for your friendship & support. We still talk about the chocolate fopera fudge you sent to us…never forget!

  8. Stephen J. Caggiano says:

    it was a pleasure to watch Your event unfold. You have opened the door to a whole new world of possibilities
    (while raising the bar) for Marketers everywhere. I congratulate You on Your success, and further, Thank You for mentioning me in this post. This could easily be a case study definitive for "Social Media Marketing done right". I can't wait to see what else You've got up Your sleeve!

  9. Kiersten Bagley says:

    What a fantastic experience it was to be on the front lines of something so innovative and new with one fantastically open and willing client. I loved being able to help plan, execute, and participate in this event. It was such a valuable experience; I learned so much from many wonderful people along the way (and had a great time)! Thanks for the opportunity, Amy!

  10. Steve Shotsberger says:

    Swanky's loved the whole idea of using social media combined with #cmchat to promote our stores…We received great value not only in terms of sales, but in brand awareness. Thanks also to everyone who is tweeting that they love @SwankysTacoShop as well—the response has been overwhelming. Our Klout score went up after this event and we also gained hundreds of followers that we will keep as fans! Thank you #cmchat, Amy Howell, Jessica Northey and all involved!

    We have a great appreciation for the power of social media. Swanky's is a company that embraces technology, innovation and out-of-the-box thinking. #cmchat hit the nail on the head.

    Thank you again to all involved.

  11. Amy Howell says:

    Stephen: I loved your tweets and support! thank you so much. And, now I'm thinking about how we "top" that…You are the best and we appreciate the tweets and support. See you again soon on #cmchat

    Kiersten: I obviously hired the right intern. Thanks for your passion. You have a bright future.

    Steve (Client Steve): Great comments and so honored that you chose us and work with us….we aim to please. Glad we do. Let's take it to the next level. $$$$$

  12. blogomomma says:

    Hi Amy,

    Although I couldn't be there, it was fun to watch.

    You did an awesome job of orchestrating a great event and really building momentum for success.

    The numbers tell it all – WOW … many congrats!

    Lucky Swanky's!

  13. Debra Cincioni says:

    What a unique concept! I am so glad that i had a chance to participate in what could be described as a "ground breaking meet up" I loved it and Swankys! Have them come to the DC area! : )

  14. amy Howell says:

    Bolgomomma: Thanks so much! It is interesting to me to track the numbers and I'm sure businesses will want this proof or verification that what we are doing on social matters. For a business to use social productively, it must a. have the right/appropriate strategy (what are your goals?) b. Have the right message (what are you saying?) and c. Have the right process for delivery. Social media is just as strategic as anything else in the marketing tool kit! Thanks for stopping by to comment.

  15. amy Howell says:

    Debra (@MomsOfAmerica): Thank you for coming! Loved meeting you IRL and learning about all you are doing for women. Powerful! Thanks also for the very generous starbucks card & the flowers you all sent me at my office. They are gorgeous and I've enjoyed them all week (still gorgeous). You rock.

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