Connect with customers like you do friends

In my most resent article Onions or Parfait I put forward the proposition that companies should use new social media innovations to build relationships with customers akin to those of friendships. I strongly believe that customers want to engage in a open two-way relationship with companies that show a willingness and expend effort to build relationships. I just came across an example of 5 big brands that are using blogs, facebook and twitter to do just this. In a post by Attraction Marketing Starbucks, Zappos, Vitamin Water, H&M and Coke are identified as big brands that are actively using social media to build friendships and not just sell products.

I’m not surprised to see Zappos in this list. Zappos are innovators in creating connections with people inside and outside their organisation. I regularly use Zappos as a case study in my presentations and workshops. You can discover more about Zappos here:
Keeping employees motivated during a recession
Zappos hits one billion $ in sales
Zappos – delivering WOW through service

Zappos makes for an awesome case study in the corporate boardroom so if you are looking for ideas for your next meeting or proposal to your boss visit their website or email me and I’ll gladly offer my insights

You can read the article on Social Media 5 Big Brands below

Starbucks

Starbucks launched their “My Starbucks Idea” blog about 1 year ago. It allows its customers to make suggestions and vote on others suggestions. The most popular ideas & opinions are taken, reviewed and acted upon. As a follow up for participants, Starbucks created a blog called “Ideas in Action” which gives updates on any changes made as a result of their customer’s suggestions. Listening to the voice of the customer is powerful…. After all, who knows what the customer wants more than the customer him/herself?

Starbucks also has a Facebook Fan Page. They use a lot of the features on it, including video, events, etc. They post industry related news, contests, new products and much more. They also promote specials only available to Social Media followers. Their fan page won the first month’s Facebook Blue Ribbon Award.

Following suit in Twitter, they have 2 different accounts, one for “Starbucks” and one for “My Starbucks Idea”. The speed at which Twitter moves makes these accounts the fastest way for Starbucks to interact with their customers, instant ideas and answers…who doesn’t like that?

Zappos

Zappos has lively Facebook and Twitter accounts. They allow you to meet Zappos’ employees and build a connection with them. Zappos has its own Twitter account, but it also aggregates its employees’ Twitter accounts on twitter.zappos.com . Using your employees as advocates in Social Media is an explosive way to reach new audiences. (this must be monitored very closely in case of a disgruntled employee, Zappos has done a great job of that by starting this site) Their Facebook page also has a lot to offer with videos, fan photos, and anecdotal stories of Zappos employees’ lives at work. In Social Media marketing, the simple fact that your customers feel like they know you and your employees will be the #1 draw to your brand!

In addition, Zappos has a network of blogs on a variety of topics, not all of which are connected to Zappos products, like its “Workout Tip of the Week.”

Twitter is no stranger to Zappos either. They have a corporate page where they post and their CEO, Tony Hsieh, has over a million followers! Way to go Tony, you have figured out that transparency attracts prospects.

Vitamin Water 10

Vitamin Water 10 is one of the first companies given Facebook’s Blue Ribbon Award. Vitamin Water 10 is probably my favorite business Fan Page because of how they use it. They offer a lot of things to keep their fans engaged such as; allowing fan photos (usually holding their vitamin waters), polls, promotions, and videos – even previews of commercials.

When advertising on TV, instead of sending people to their website, they send them to their Facebook page. They are no dummies, they know where their audience is! They also advertised their fan page on ESPN.com where they focused on their discussion of the Kobe/Lebron match-up.

Although new to Twitter, vitaminwater10 has begun to post regularly, keeping fans abreast of what’s up in the Vitamin Water world.

H & M

H & M allows its Facebook fans’ comments to be its fan pages’ homepage. This probably helps to increase the level of fan interaction – one of the reasons H & M was awarded Facebook’s Blue Ribbon Award. The page also gives updates on the new lines, videos, promotions – such as Fashion Against AIDS, and asks for customer feedback.

H & M also has a Twitter account where it gives updates on everything H&M is involved with.

Also falling into the category of Social Media, they post YouTube videos through their own account so everyone can watch what is going on. By the way, did you know video is the most effective way to reach an audience on the Internet?

Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola has a very large Facebook page with one of the highest number of fans to date. They have incorporated a wide variety of photos, products from all over the world, Coke employees and fans, and Coke memorabilia. They allow most of the content to be driven by the fans. One interesting thing about their fan page is how it was set up; two fans originally created it and rather than compete with a page that had already gained great popularity, Coke asked the creators to represent them. You can even see a video about their experience on the fan page.

Coca-Cola also has a Twitter account which they started only a few weeks ago. There is a lot of conversation going back and forth with some interesting news that attracts followers.

Click here to be taken to Attraction Marketing’s blog

2 thoughts on “Connect with customers like you do friends”

  1. Hayley says:

    Is there scientific research that shows the link between social media and customer satisfaction? Also, is there scientific research that shows there is a genuine link between companies who use social media and their ability to engagement staff and hire talent?

    Does the link really exist or do consultants and companies simply want it to exist?

    I don’t think customers or employees really care if a company uses social media. I can’t help feeling a little sorry for the people who follow H&M on Facebook. Have they got no life? While Zappos may be active on social media, is this really the reason why their customers are engaged and satisfied? Or, is it because they produce a decent product, sell it at a reasonable price, deliver promptly and have effective business processes and sales systems with good after-sales service?

    1. Hi Hayley

      thanks for your comment

      I don’t think it’s about whether or not a company uses social media or whether customers care. Companies that either don’t use use social media or use it but have nothing to say other than the odd sales push are missing the point. All social media offers us is a new communication and relationship tool. The clever companies like zappos use these tools as a way of engaging with their customers. It’s engagement that matters not the social media, which is merely a tool. The explosion of social media shows that people are crying out for relationships. Companies that put the effort into building genuine two way relationships that are mutually beneficial will be the winners.

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