Your Social Media Strategy Must Go Beyond Twitter Followers and Facebook Likes

I needed to vent. No sooner had I grabbed my coffee from the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru attendant, it spilled all over my white dress shirt and brand-new car. An improperly secured lid was about to impede my morning meetings.

Now I, like you, love Dunkin’ Donuts. (For those of you on the West Coast, you’ll soon know what I’m talking about.) But what should I do now? Sue the establishment? Not my style – plus, that’s so 1994. No, for me, in the heat of the moment, I took my frustration to that great message board in the sky (well, in the cloud). That’s right, I tweeted.


A simple tweet with a simple frustration, just to get it out of my system. But here’s what happened. Within five minutes, @DunkinDonuts was following me on Twitter. Five more minutes and they had tweeted at me to send a direct message with my phone number. Five minutes later they called, asking to know which Dunkin’ Donuts this happened at and what my experience had been. They took my address and a week later I received a $10 gift card.

This is social media. This is listening. This is engagement. This is everything that corporations should strive for. Dunkin’ Donuts didn’t have to do this. I was still going to be a customer tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that. But, through listening and genuinely caring about its customers, Dunkin’ Donuts turned my negative experience into one with positive results: I am a more loyal customer. While I’m not saying every company I frequent should wrong me to improve my loyalty, I do think there is a very valuable lesson here in the proper way to use social media.

Social media is not just collecting Twitter followers or Facebook “likes,” and then marketing to them. Twitter and Facebook are engagement platforms. A company can best use these tools by making someone feel like they really connect with your brand. Talk to them; don’t talk at them. It might seem time-consuming to reach out to people individually, but it’s worth the investment. (Case in point: Dunkin’ Donuts went from the inconvenience of a stained shirt and dirty car to me writing an article exalting them.)

Depending on the size of your company, there are different strategies to ensure you’re not missing out on a conversation. Bigger companies that can invest in social media listening tools might try services like Radian6 or Sysomos. Smaller companies that opt not to spend on these tools have no excuse though: a quick query into Twitter’s search bar let’s you see (and respond to) the latest conversations about your company or products. No matter which technology you employ to hear those conversations, your response strategy will be the same: be personal and genuine and it’ll be well worth the effort.

While a company can use social media to sell things or generate leads, it must demonstrate that it understands you first. Even if you’re selling something, make sure you’re doing so with a personality. Twitter accounts for comparison-shopping website @Nextag and airline @SouthwestAir do a particularly good job blending product and promotional material with other content (like asking fun questions and personally replying to people mentioning them).

What’s worked (or what hasn’t worked) in your social media campaigns? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

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