Ever been cornered at a cocktail party, trapped in a one-sided conversation wherein the blow-hard on the other side seems to have an uncanny knack for seamlessly redirecting any discussion back to himself? It’s a special kind of hell, and you find yourself looking for a strong drink or the nearest exit. In online branding, we see this thing all of the time. Narcissistic brands yammer on and on about their image but rarely do anything to spark chatter amongst their consumers. This is a colossal mistake in today’s very social climate. Brands who have embraced our chit-chatty, social media-obsessed ways are thriving while the ones with the let-them-eat-cake attitude are sinking. To help illustrate our point, we dug up some brands that are inviting consumers to engage with inspiring results.
People Magazine has always been the kind of publication that inspires dish sessions amongst celebrity watchers. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that the mag would invite its readers to talk back about all things pop culture. Not only does the site feature up-to-the-minute news in celebrity tweets, it also asks its readers to tweet back their thoughts on things like last night’s episode of Glee or who wore what on the red carpet. No, it isn’t NPR, but People never claimed to be. Engaging the audience keeps things light and chatty, which is just how People readers like it.
It takes a lot of guts to put negative reviews on the opening page of your site, but of course Zappos.com would have the gravitas to do exactly that. The website naturally boasts glowing shoe reviews but the company is not afraid to post the thoughts of unhappy customers, either. Shoe enthusiasts, after all, need to know things like “not comfortable at all” or “not as cute in person.” Zappos takes the bunions-and-all reviews to the front page, proving the company will do anything to make its customers happy.
Food companies have really embraced social engagement. Nearly everyone, form the big guys like Kraft to smaller/local food producers, has customer feedback featured prominently on their websites in addition to comments sections where foodies can sound off about recipes. Kraft even has a section where registered members can share their own recipes (made with Kraft products, natch).
Staying social with our clients is more than just competitive strategy. By listening and talking to our customers using social media, we get insights into our business in a matter of moments, something those old customer comment cards could never quite pull off.