So often we get asked, “Is there a real return with social media?”  And we usually respond with, “Yes, providing you don’t just push out propaganda and you actually deliver relevant content, listen, engage and seize the opportunity.” This past week, we’ve seen some pretty amazing levels of social media engagement in the Twitterverse.

We’ve been following @erinscafe (Erin Faulk) on Twitter for the past several weeks as she planned and fundraised for #ffthefilm, the first-ever documentary about Twitter, and the people @erinscafe follows and trusts to help her and her team make day-to-day decisions.  The film will follow Erin on an 8,500-mile 38-day journey across the United States, meeting and interviewing 140 of the strangers she listens to every day on Twitter. It’s an exploration into the people behind the Tweets and all those recommendations you get when you post something like, oh say, “what’s going on in #iloveyorkcity?” or “who has the best pie in town?” or even “which is better, the IPA or the Hefeweizen?” You get the idea.

But here it is in Erin’s words.

So, ok, we bet you’re thinking that sure this is engaging, but what does this have to do with me engaging my consumers? Wait for it… in a few words: need + opportunity + responsive brand = brand evangelism. Not only was Erin able to raise more than $24,000 to fund the film exclusively through social media and Kickstarter, but it was after the film was funded that the real Twitter magic happened.

After @erinscafe tweeted about bad car experiences that were affecting the documentary trip plan, @Audi managed to quickly respond and click (on a trackable link), which alone got them major Twitterverse props. BUT THEN, Audi offered a vehicle to Erin and her crew to help them out for the 38-day documentary.

Tweets went crazy. First that Audi was interacting and second that Audi actually provided a car to travel the 8500 miles (give or take if they get lost).

You can see how it all went down on Twitter here on Storify.

So we calculated that a one-month “lending” of this car maybe cost Audi $2500 (delivery, use of car, pick-up, etc.). So for $2500, they got people talking, sharing, liking and yelling from their smartphone keyboard rooftops how awesome Audi is. AND, now Audi will be featured in this documentary, which we are predicting is going to be a pretty big deal.

Social is what you make of it. You don’t have to give big things away. Just be responsive and in touch in real-time.

Congrats to Audi on a great social media effort. Congrats to Erin Faulk and her crew on scoring a sweet ride for the film. Can’t wait to see this gem when it’s all done.

You can follow the documentary as it is happens on Twitter by following @FF TheFilm. And be sure to keep an eye out for some #iloveyorkcity tweeters in the final product. York is on the map and scheduled for a visit on July 11-July 12!

Safe social travels.

Learn more about #FF The Film at http://followfridaythefilm.com.