I started tinkering with social media about five years ago. An hour after I started, I fell in love with the whole idea. "This is great," I thought. It got my marketing brain chugging on all cylinders, helped me to learn so many new things, gave me access to new people—many of whom became friends—and the immediacy and reach gave me answers to all kinds of questions right away.
The big breakthrough came a few months later when I realized I could communicate directly with a brand.Social Media = Customer Service
I went to Ethan Allen to buy something called a television lift cabinet which could make a big-screen TV disappear into a cabinet and reappear at the push of a button. I then went to Best Buy to buy the television and was assured that everything would be in place on Monday. Best Buy would send the installers.
Monday came, and the television set, huge cabinet and installers all showed up. But they couldn't figure out how to get everything synchronized. I needed the Comcast cable people to hook it up. I called and got put on hold, so I tweeted about it to @comcastcares. They tweeted right back, then called to say a Comcast tech whiz would be there in an hour. He showed up and fixed everything in a jiffy. Yay!
I had tweeted back and forth with Frank Eliason before (the spokesperson for @ComcastCares) and the results were amazing. Now he's left Comcast to work for Citigroup. As a brand, Comcast had never been high on my "Like" list, but it is now.
Social Media = Approachability
Here’s another example of social media making a connection.
A couple of years ago, I was cruising down the Dneiper River in Ukraine and happily calling and e-mailing with people back home. I'd contacted AT&T before I left and increased my digital usage, but when I got home, I had a huge bill (way over $1,000.) I looked up @ATTTatiana. She called me directly and we worked out my mistake happily. I like AT&T better now, too.
Companies that engage their customers in conversation and have nice personalities win in social media. And they create super loyal customers when they come to their rescue. People don’t forget that.
On Facebook, my personal favorite is Petsmart. They reach out and comment on my dog or my cat. Their warm and friendly personality on Facebook is the same as it is in their store in Aventura. My puppy, Daisy Mae, loves it there, too.
Social Media = Awareness
When Mike McC, our creative director, wanted a new SUV, I tweeted Ford’s @ScottMonty about it. He told us to look at the Eclipse, and even better, he let us know that the Ford Explorer was still available. On his advice we went right to the dealership and bought the Explorer. Thank you, Scott. I sent him a photo of Mike and his new car and he put it up on Twitter.
Social Media = Fun
You can feature articles, white papers, contests, sign ups and videos easily on Facebook.
I first heard about Will it Blend? on Facebook. YouTube videos show Tom Dickson, the CEO of BlendTec, tossing things into a blender. Once, he threw his iPhone in, pressed the “smoothie” button and it came out looking like ashes. Tom is a playful kind of nerd and adds some excitement to the brand.
Sales have increased 500 percent since he launched his videos.
Old Spice was a pretty tired, old aftershave until the company hired an entertaining spokesman, Isaiah Mustafa, to embody the campaign, "the man your man should smell like.” Nearly 200 web videos were quickly produced. Their followers were asked to pose any questions they wanted, and they poured in, even from celebrities.
I just checked and one Old Spice video on YouTube has about 48 million views. How much would Old Spice have to pay to get that much attention and engagement from their target audience?
Lois Geller is President and Owner of Lois Geller Marketing Group and headed agencies in New York and Toronto. Lois taught direct marketing at NYU. She’s the author of five marketing books, including Response: The Complete Guide to Profitable Direct Marketing. Follow @loisgeller on Twitter and visit her blog Joy of Direct Marketing for more marketing tips.