I’m a frequent Twitter user. I’d say that I might even use Twitter more than the average person does because I manage three organizations’ Twitter accounts on top of my personal account. That doesn’t make me an expert on brand interaction or social media in general, but I’d say that I’ve had a good amount of experience over the last year of college managing Cardinal Communications’ social media channels.
If there’s one thing that our brand could work on, though, it’s social media engagement. In fact, that’s one of the things that I knew that my team and I needed to focus on the most for the academic year. I see other Twitter accounts and Facebook pages that respond to user comments and messages like it’s their job (oh wait), and I envy them. How do you do it? First, you have to engage your audience. You have to have an audience that wants to communicate with you. In order to do this, your brand has to come off as friendly or at least customer service-driven. The first brand that comes to my mind in this realm is Jimmy John’s.
My personal experience with the restaurant on Twitter has never been anything but pleasant. Their quick replies and witty remarks make them a joy to follow and interact with. Why spend the extra time interacting? How do they do it?
They’re acting like humans and creating connections.
Maybe it’s because their Twitter account is run by humans, but that’s just a guess. They have real interactions with their fans – including back and forth conversations like the one I experienced, shown above. They use language appropriate for social media instead of wording that you’d see in a research report. Their replies are interesting. They don’t have canned responses.
Jimmy John’s use of social media is inspirational to people like me who are trying to figure out this whole social media interaction thing. By interacting with audiences, they’re adding value to their brand. They are building brand loyalty.
They’re the “little guy,” but they are making big guy actions.
Reading through the Jimmy John’s Facebook page comments, posts like “when are you opening a store in my city?” are common. They say it about their own company – they’re the “little guy” and haven’t expanded everywhere yet. However, the enormous social media following that they have (almost 3.2 million Facebook fans and almost 400,000 Twitter followers), proves otherwise. With such a large sphere of influence, Jimmy Johns’ ability to interact on such a frequent and consistent level is amazing. They maintain quality customer service while also keeping the interest in their brand up.
Interaction online spreads quickly.
If brands want others to see their products, interaction is the easiest and cheapest way to do that. When a company’s Twitter account interacts with someone I follow on Twitter, they usually retweet the company’s message or mention them in a tweet. This is a personal endorsement for the brand from someone that I trust. Alternatively, if I see something negative about a brand, the brand’s response (or lack thereof) can change the way that I perceive them. If I see a brand consistently replying positively to its audience, I take notice.
If I’m new to a particular brand and I see my friends’ past positive interactions with them, I’m more likely to switch to that brand. My personal interactions aren’t the only criteria that shape my perception of a brand.
Interaction leads to trust.
By interacting with consumers on social media, brands come across as being more transparent. Even if they’re not sharing trade secrets, brand interaction online can effect the public’s ideas of the brand. By posting “exclusive” news to one social media outlet, as One Direction did on Snapchat with their new album announcement, they’re making their audience feel special. This fosters the relationships that consumers have with brands. Through interaction, a brand can make an individual feel valued, which in turn increases brand loyalty.
All in all, interaction is something that all brands need to do. By watching and learning from brands that are doing it “right,” we can improve our brand’s perception and sense of value, which helps both consumers and employees of the brand.