David Finch
David Finch

Recently, I was sitting at my favorite deli watching the news. Running across the bottom of the page was the latest updates of all the corporate layoffs. While I didn’t do the math, within just a few seconds I watched the news of close to fifty thousand people that had just lost their jobs.

That’s when I began to think about this quote, “either you evolve or you get left behind.” Now I don’t know every detail of their financials, or the purpose behind the layoffs. However, I did begin to wonder at what level were they engaging their customers? I also wanted to know if they had a “real-time” pulse on what their customers were saying and what was the loyalty level to their brand?

While my brainstorming session didn’t produce any hard facts about their companies, I did begin think about brands that are engaged with their customers within the social media space. Companies such as Zappo’s, Ford Motor Company, the Phoenix Suns and I can’t forget about my childhood favorite, Little Debbie snacks.

These companies are all great examples of how to humanize their brand. It’s obvious that they have a plan in place that involves interaction with the customer besides just consuming their product or service. These brands have bought into the realization that brand evangelists don’t evolve because of just great products. They evolve when great brands incorporate customers to become a part of a great experience.

Whatever method or approach you choose, the success of customer engagement happens when these three common denominators are present.

Listening to Your Customer

The pathway to humanizing your brand is your willingness to listen. A brand’s ability to listen to their customers and to hold their words as a valuable commodity, will always gain credibility for the brand.

Brands that refuse to listen have really already signed off on their future.

One way I see brands listening to their customers is through the social media community and the tools that it provides. They are investing their time and money to be where their customers are at in the digital space. They are also listening to what they hear being said about their brand.

One thing brands will notice is that listening provides an opportunity to not only hear about the positive things being spoken about your brand, but also the misconceptions that are being spoken.
Phoenix Suns' Planet Orange

Engaging Your Customer

Brands that not only listen to what their customers are saying, but engage in conversation elevates their brand above their competitors. Contrary to what you see, social media without engagement is spam.

While the pressure for all brands is to generate conversions, engaged consumers will always produce a level of loyalty that cannot be bought. Using social media as a sales letter is a sure bet to disengage with a community as well as open the possibilities of negative viral effect about your brand.

However, if you’re willing to invest your time, then you have a better chance of changing perceptions and gaining new loyal customers.

Zappos Online Shoes

Celebrating Your Customer

One common thread that seems to permeate with successful brands using social media is that they really know how to celebrate their customers. Customers no longer feel like they are a number or a dollar amount on an accountant’s spreadsheet, but a living, breathing human being.

Celebrated consumers become brand evangelists and brand evangelists produce more consumers.

Celebration is the final step when a brand is willing to listen and engage. It’s the final strategy to humanizing your brand. Celebrating a consumer can be experienced in many different ways. For some brands they celebrate their customer with special access to clubs and memberships. While others celebrate with gifts and recognition. It’s all part of the strategy in bringing a human side to the brand.

Whatever method you choose, innovative ideas for celebrating customers are really just a few steps away for any creative marketing team. The bottom line is, are you involved with listening, engaging and celebrating your customer?

Those are my thoughts. How would you put a human face to a brand? What outposts would you recommend? How would you want a brand to engage with you? Do you think social media can play a positive role for brands in the midst of economic uncertainties?

Leave a comment. The floor is now yours!

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About David Finch

David Finch

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/convince-convert-digital-marketing-blog jasonbaer

    David -

    Thanks much for the link to my Phoenix Suns post. Amazing how much listening can make a difference, and even more amazing how rare it happens.

  • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/convince-convert-digital-marketing-blog jasonbaer

    David -

    Thanks much for the link to my Phoenix Suns post. Amazing how much listening can make a difference, and even more amazing how rare it happens.

  • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/convince-convert-digital-marketing-blog jasonbaer

    David -

    Thanks much for the link to my Phoenix Suns post. Amazing how much listening can make a difference, and even more amazing how rare it happens.

  • http://blog.budgetpulse.com/ Craig

    It's so true, establishing the fact that you are human, and are willing to invest time into getting to know your customers develops trust and loyalty from a customer standpoint, as well as positive reviews. That is something I am trying to do now for my company, and to a degree am successful. But we are also very small right now. I understand companies like Zappos are doing a great job at this, but how to you handle staying personal to customers when they become too many?

    • http://www.davidsfinch.com David Finch

      Craig – In response to your question regarding staying personal to customers when they become to many, I'm sure there are a couple ways to answer this question (and if anyone else has a thought, feel free to chime in).

      You'll probably never have the opportunity to stay personal with every customer and for the most part not every customer is going to want that personal encounter with the brand. However, the key is for the brand to be in a position to listen and then engage this customer when needed.

      Social media provides the tools and the platform to be “in the middle” of where conversations are taking place. Being at the right place and hearing what your customers are saying makes it a lot easier for them to feel connected to the brand.

  • http://blog.budgetpulse.com/ Craig

    It's so true, establishing the fact that you are human, and are willing to invest time into getting to know your customers develops trust and loyalty from a customer standpoint, as well as positive reviews. That is something I am trying to do now for my company, and to a degree am successful. But we are also very small right now. I understand companies like Zappos are doing a great job at this, but how to you handle staying personal to customers when they become too many?

  • http://blog.budgetpulse.com/ Craig

    It's so true, establishing the fact that you are human, and are willing to invest time into getting to know your customers develops trust and loyalty from a customer standpoint, as well as positive reviews. That is something I am trying to do now for my company, and to a degree am successful. But we are also very small right now. I understand companies like Zappos are doing a great job at this, but how to you handle staying personal to customers when they become too many?

  • http://www.davidsfinch.com David Finch

    Jason –
    Thanks for the comment. No problem… It was a great post.

    There are a handful of sports team that are trying to engage their fan base using social media, but the Phoenix Suns probably tops all I've seen to this point. What a great way for the common fan to be able to connect with their favorite team.

  • http://www.davidsfinch.com David Finch

    Jason –
    Thanks for the comment. No problem… It was a great post.

    There are a handful of sports team that are trying to engage their fan base using social media, but the Phoenix Suns probably tops all I've seen to this point. What a great way for the common fan to be able to connect with their favorite team.

  • http://www.davidsfinch.com David Finch

    Jason –
    Thanks for the comment. No problem… It was a great post.

    There are a handful of sports team that are trying to engage their fan base using social media, but the Phoenix Suns probably tops all I've seen to this point. What a great way for the common fan to be able to connect with their favorite team.

  • http://www.sonnygill.com sonnygill

    Great points here that all companies should adhere to if they wish to connect with their community.

    I'd add on to the Listening part and say to take it that next step into Action. Take what you're hearing about your brand/company and put things into action. Are certain things not working? A lot of complaints? Take action and fix those things and let the community know that you listened and did something about it. It helps empower the community and makes them feel that they really do have a voice and that it counted for something.

    • http://www.davidsfinch.com David Finch

      Sonny, well said!
      Listening with no action definitely doesn't produce a customer that feels connected to the brand. I think you nailed it when you said, “it helps empower the community and makes the customer feel like they really do have voice.

  • http://www.sonnygill.com sonnygill

    Great points here that all companies should adhere to if they wish to connect with their community.

    I'd add on to the Listening part and say to take it that next step into Action. Take what you're hearing about your brand/company and put things into action. Are certain things not working? A lot of complaints? Take action and fix those things and let the community know that you listened and did something about it. It helps empower the community and makes them feel that they really do have a voice and that it counted for something.

  • http://www.sonnygill.com sonnygill

    Great points here that all companies should adhere to if they wish to connect with their community.

    I'd add on to the Listening part and say to take it that next step into Action. Take what you're hearing about your brand/company and put things into action. Are certain things not working? A lot of complaints? Take action and fix those things and let the community know that you listened and did something about it. It helps empower the community and makes them feel that they really do have a voice and that it counted for something.

  • http://www.davidsfinch.com David Finch

    Sonny, well said!
    Listening with no action definitely doesn't produce a customer that feels connected to the brand. I think you nailed it when you said, “it helps empower the community and makes the customer feel like they really do have voice.

  • http://www.davidsfinch.com David Finch

    Sonny, well said!
    Listening with no action definitely doesn't produce a customer that feels connected to the brand. I think you nailed it when you said, “it helps empower the community and makes the customer feel like they really do have voice.

  • http://www.davidsfinch.com David Finch

    Craig – In response to your question regarding staying personal to customers when they become to many, I'm sure there are a couple ways to answer this question (and if anyone else has a thought, feel free to chime in).

    You'll probably never have the opportunity to stay personal with every customer and for the most part not every customer is going to want that personal encounter with the brand. However, the key is for the brand to be in a position to listen and then engage this customer when needed.

    Social media provides the tools and the platform to be “in the middle” of where conversations are taking place. Being at the right place and hearing what your customers are saying makes it a lot easier for them to feel connected to the brand.

  • http://www.davidsfinch.com David Finch

    Craig – In response to your question regarding staying personal to customers when they become to many, I'm sure there are a couple ways to answer this question (and if anyone else has a thought, feel free to chime in).

    You'll probably never have the opportunity to stay personal with every customer and for the most part not every customer is going to want that personal encounter with the brand. However, the key is for the brand to be in a position to listen and then engage this customer when needed.

    Social media provides the tools and the platform to be “in the middle” of where conversations are taking place. Being at the right place and hearing what your customers are saying makes it a lot easier for them to feel connected to the brand.

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  • http://www.elocalplumbers.com/city/Nashville_TN/0 Nashville Plumbers

    It is nice to give your customer an outlet to speak about their feelings towards your company. I think that alone can make you look better than competition right there without doing anything more. Very efficient.

  • http://www.elocalplumbers.com/city/Nashville_TN/0 Nashville Plumbers

    It is nice to give your customer an outlet to speak about their feelings towards your company. I think that alone can make you look better than competition right there without doing anything more. Very efficient.

  • http://www.elocalplumbers.com/city/Nashville_TN/0 Nashville Plumbers

    It is nice to give your customer an outlet to speak about their feelings towards your company. I think that alone can make you look better than competition right there without doing anything more. Very efficient.

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  • http://fenixmarcess.com Fenix Marcess

    This here Is good stuff… I went right to my facebook, twitter and myspace, and thanked everyone I could find the fingers to after reading this post.

    I love the way you put it as celebrate the consumer. Couldn't have said it better any other way.

    Thanks

    • http://www.davidsfinch.com David Finch

      Fenix –
      Thanks for the compliment! It's always amazing what can happen when customers are treated like a human being that has a voice and not just a sale.

  • http://fenixmarcess.com Fenix Marcess

    This here Is good stuff… I went right to my facebook, twitter and myspace, and thanked everyone I could find the fingers to after reading this post.

    I love the way you put it as celebrate the consumer. Couldn't have said it better any other way.

    Thanks

  • http://fenixmarcess.com Fenix Marcess

    This here Is good stuff… I went right to my facebook, twitter and myspace, and thanked everyone I could find the fingers to after reading this post.

    I love the way you put it as celebrate the consumer. Couldn't have said it better any other way.

    Thanks

  • http://www.davidsfinch.com David Finch

    Fenix –
    Thanks for the compliment! It's always amazing what can happen when customers are treated like a human being that has a voice and not just a sale.

  • http://www.davidsfinch.com David Finch

    Fenix –
    Thanks for the compliment! It's always amazing what can happen when customers are treated like a human being that has a voice and not just a sale.

  • http://www.davidsfinch.com David Finch

    Fenix –
    Thanks for the compliment! It's always amazing what can happen when customers are treated like a human being that has a voice and not just a sale.

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