Brand building

How does using social media help keep a company in touch with its customers?

Social media provides an outlet for you to constantly communicate with your customer in a way that’s not threatening. If you’re on Twitter and you’re continually promoting a product, people aren’t going to listen to you. But if you’re on Twitter and you’re providing useful information, interesting links, stories built around what you do, or you’ve got a blog that’s providing useful information, it’s going to let people know your brand is genuinely committed to their success.

Authenticity goes a long way in today’s world. If customers don’t feel you’re being authentic, they’re not going to do business with you. If they don’t feel as if you are in it for them, or they can’t get the information they want immediately from your Web site or other digital media, they’re gone.

How can a company provide useful information to its customers?

As an example, Scotts Miracle-Gro lets you sign up for a newsletter with helpful lawn care tips. They will e-mail you when it’s a good time to plant something, or when to put down fertilizer. They’re providing information and supporting their sales channels. They’re not asking you to just click on anything and buy it (though a purchase is just one click away).

They’re being seen as a thought leader and as someone who’s going to share information freely and openly with you. People purchase brands that are focused on helping them be successful by giving them information they can use — in many cases for free.

There’s a twofold benefit: The company receives the goodwill generated from providing information, and it also gets the customer’s e-mail address and important information that helps it understand customer needs.

What are the other benefits in engaging customers with your brand?

You can get the pulse of your customers and really understand what products they want and what they’re talking about, and use these tools to have an ongoing conversation with them. That can help you figure out what products you need to launch, or what markets you need to get into and, in some cases, out of.

Using social media gives you the ability to track and manage your brand by having a conversation. Customers will tell you what you need to know about your product or service to make effective decisions faster. You can then make adjustments on that, and that’s ultimately what this is about — building and managing a brand.

Bo Bothe is the president and chief creative officer of BrandExtract, an integrated branding and communications firm that guides growing companies by providing strategic branding solutions, marketing communications, advertising, print and interactive services. Reach him at [email protected] or (713) 942-7959 or visit