E-engagement: Getting customers involved

2 Nov

A brand cannot live on sales alone. To maintain a powerful and lasting image requires committed customers, and with social media it is becoming even more important for companies to engage their customers. If they don’t, those customers can also use the internet to voice their discontent.

Traditional promotions like birthday coupons, “gold cards,” and special events still exist both on and off-line, but Chris Lake offers even more ways to reward customers. New technology allows websites to remove annoying ads for customers that sign up for accounts or engage with the company in other ways. Facebook fans of clothing brands can gain access to early private sales. With social media and internet data, almost any online shopping company can optimize and customize for their customers.

Rewards are not applicable to every company or their customers. As Mashable maps out different engagement styles, a few others stand out as new developments brought about by social media. One approach is to engage customers by engaging the employees who interact with them. IBM and Dell are well known for their employee blogs, and Zappos is famous for employees tweeting.  Another way to get customers involved is by setting up communities revolving around something other than the products or company. As Matthew Latkiewicz points out, Timberland focused on environmental issues. Any company can find an issue or topic most of their customers care about and start conversations that will ultimately create connections to their brand.

Retailers may seem like they have it easy when it comes to online customer engagement, but service companies and organizations can utilize the web to engage customers too. Starbucks started using social media in 2008 amidst their falling stock prices. Since then, they have engaged customers by carrying their store image to their website, and engaging customers in genuine conversations that they can’t have with the coffee houses’ baristas. Social media has even popped up in unexpected places, like the Tate museum in London. According to Matt Rhodes on the UK’s Fresh Networks blog, the Tate is the top UK brand on Twitter, because the organization answers real questions and has fun online in ways it cannot always achieve in the real world. Just goes to show that whether you’re a retailer, service provider, or organization, customer engagement online is possible and effective.


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