Social media has given consumers unprecedented power and connectivity, transforming the role they can play in amplifying a brand’s story. Once a brand acknowledges this power, the strategies it needs to adopt to engage customers become readily apparent.
One of the most important strategies is for brand’s to make customers the hero of the story, rather than the brand itself. Customers have so much competition for their attention both in the real world and online that the most effective way to attain their attention is to just make them the focus of your story. That is why you see so many brand campaigns leveraging the stories of their customers as it brings their story to life in a way that is more authentic than traditional, self-serving advertising.
Patagonia celebrates its customers as heroes in Worn Wear:
A second key strategy to engaging customers is to commit to scaling intimacy. Every customer that a brand talks to has shared a wealth of information about themselves across social media channels, from what clothes they wear to their holiday destinations to what music they listen to. If brands do not speak to customers in a way that demonstrates they have been listening to what those customers have shared, customers will readily assume the brand is either not listening or not interested. Instead, brands must recognize that they have a unique relationship with every single customer and, as challenging as it sounds, commit to scaling intimacy. This requires a certain amount of resources to physically execute this type of engagement, as well as the right training and tools to reach large numbers of people in real time.
P&G’s Thank You Mom campaign drives an intimate relationship across its social community:
A third key strategy for engaging customers is to recognize and reward engagement. Just as too many brands fail to give customers a call to action in the first place, many also fail to reward customers when they do engage or share content on behalf of a brand. That reward can be as simple as a thank you, a discount on an upcoming offer, or some form of social recognition that creates currency with customers’ peers.
TOMS annual One Day Without Shoes campaign is almost a month-long celebration and recognition of its customer community.
Executed together, these strategies of making the customer the hero, scaling intimacy, and rewarding engagement ensure that a brand combines human dynamics and social technologies in ways that encourage its customer community to partner with them in building their business and social impact.