Part I:Â Good Friends Are Good Listeners
Do you have a friend that you sometimes canât stand to be around because he steamrolls the conversation â talks so fast, and so much, and so loudly that you want to cover your ears? I do. Actually, I think I might have several.
Iâm reminded of these friends when I think about the way a lot of brands behave when it comes to social media.Â These brands walk into the Facebook party and become the guy that dominates the conversation.Â It makes sense in a way, given that marketers are trained to talk loudly and often to help shape their brand.Â But this model doesnât work within social media.
Why?Â Essentially, making friends in social media is akin to making friends in real life â itâs as much about listening and getting to know your friends as it is talking about yourself.Â Good listening builds trust, rapport, and openness.
Letâs take a look at some self-aware brands that get this â and through their adapted behavior, have become fluent social butterflies.
Target: Target is all about being the philanthropist.Â But Targetâs Facebook page doesnât just shout about the brandâs good-deeding.Â Instead, Target asks its fans to share what they care about (charities in past years; now focused on schools) and then makes charitable contributions based on their responses.Â Targetâs Facebook presence gives the companyâs consumers and advocates an actionable voice and enhances Targetâs position in the community.
Ford: Ford loves talking about cars â but it understands that it needs to hear from consumers, too. In fact, Ford is so empathetic that it developed a social site dedicated to soliciting stories from car owners.Â Fordâs brilliant approach lets the brand get to know their car owners in a much deeper, more personalized way, which provides inspiration as well as the chance to build long-term relationships with consumers.
Kleenex: Kleenex is listening even when friends donât realize it.Â In December 2011, the brand launched the âFeel Goodâ campaign, whereby the brand combed through status updates on its page to identify 50Â âfriendsâ with colds â and it couriered each of them a get-well kit.Â All of them returned the favor by posting the interaction to their FB walls (delivering 650K impressions).Â Â Pop Chips is also known to take this low-key approachâ the brand will show-up with unexpected gifts of Pop Chips if they discover hungry Facebook friends.
One red flag: donât bother initiating dialogue if you donât really care.Â Because no one likes that guy, either.Â One online travel company recently asked its community to share stories of their favorite travel souvenirs.Â A ton of fans spoke up, but the company took no note of their responses and missed an opportunity to bond and create dialogue.Â Brands attempting to listen to their consumers need to follow through on what they hear and learn to start building lucrative relationships.
Sara Linderman, Strategist