Brands are beginning to really catch the connection. Remember the day of opening a candy bar, biting down, and believing you had a tooth in your bar, writing a letter to the company and getting a box of 48 candy bars? Wait that never happened to you? I was a senior in high school and was eating my very first “Big Hunk” bar. Okay, so it had nuts in it. I had no idea. I bit down and feared that some factory worker had lost a tooth. I sent a letter to the company. I received a well written letter explaining the ingredients, and assurance that it was not a tooth, and a big box of bars to share with my friends.
Can you imagine how that would have blown up in Social Media today. Given the bit of a ham I can be at the age of 48 imagine what I was like as a senior in high-school. The idea of having a major company send a package and letter to some twinky high school girl was unheard of. I was the cool kid in school for as long as 48 bars would last me.
Brands both big and small are no longer able to hide behind corporate form letters, and auto-mated voice prompts. Companies, whether they like it or not, are out there subjecting themselves to anyone who knows how to use a smart phone. No more form letters to mail out as an apology. Brands are being forced to catch the connection directly and engage the consumer. Some are doing it very well and some are still not really seeing the need to do this and hen scratch their heads as to why the competition is quickly moving way ahead.
I had a banner week in connecting a brand to the fans with a major brand. If you have read in the past then you know I am one of the #IdolTweethearts. Endorsed, loved, appreciated and spoiled rotten by American Idol. I used to think they might cringe with each email, or see me on caller I.D. and not answer. I ask ALOT for our fans. Recognizing that there have been those in Social Media who have joined with IdolTweethearts in chatting and sharing during the weekly airing of American Idol during Season 13, I asked American Idol if we might bless some of these fans with tickets for the Idol Tours ( #IdolTour ). “Let’s connect more with them.” They made no promises, but guess what? American Idol is doing a terrific job of “catching the connection.” There are a handful of women all over the US going to see the Season 13 American Idols at Idol Tours. I may have slipped in my name, and all FIVE of my kids, and sure enough my entire family gets to go. American Idol is a big brand, the idea of IdolTweethearts is really trying to find yet another way to connect with fans. They get it. And I may be driving the bus to continue that connection.
This past month I really started recognizing in my own work, and the work I do for various companies just how important that connection is. In the “old” days. I worked completely behind the scenes in helping the brand connect with the consumer by way of strategic planning, thinking and directing how best to get their products into the right markets in the best possible way. Now I can dance and sing in the streets about the brands I represent. All while holding my smart phone and recording or taking selfies. I have worked in this Social Space for over 2 years now. I come by connecting with people naturally, but not all those in this space do that and understand that. Pushing your information is not going to build loyalty or brand recognition. Connecting with that end consumer makes a bigger difference.
I went out and bought some Red Vines. I was thinking about filling a mason jar and using as a center piece and tweeted that. @RedVines tweeted me back. I was tickled red. I took a screen shot and posted on my facebook. I did not even have to bite down, mail a letter to express concern to get a response. A connection was made and I may have bought those red vines in that big bulk bucket.
I use think that everyone understood what it meant to make the connection with another human soul. I am really one of those people who speaks with strangers fearlessly. What I have learned is that over and over I talk with those working in the online social space and listening to them share how hard it is to get a company on board to understanding how important it is connect with the consumer. Brands both large and small are beginning to “catch the connection.” Some are slower than others, but there is no going backwards ever again. Are you catching the connection?