5 Steps For Changing Your Company from a Brand into an Experience

by Geoff Livingston on Jul 05, 2012

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By focusing on a comprehensive user experience, research shows brands strengthen return on investment (ROI).

A RightNow study shows that 86% of consumers would pay more for a better customer experience, and 89% of consumers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience.

Building a holistic brand experience means breaking down silos within a company to foster collaboration between community managers, PR, advertising, product marketing and customer service.

Integrating social into the larger experience remains one of the biggest challenges for CMOs. Gini Dietrich and I wrote Marketing in the Round in hopes of fostering better functional integration across the marketing department.

Each brand is different, but there are some common ways to enhance a holistic user experience with social media from initial touch to customer service. Here are five tips based on our experiences:

1) Use Photos

Five Guys
image by joo0ey

Experiences extend beyond words and logos. They comprise feelings. Photos and visual media are taking the social world by storm these days because they help convey actual experiences.

Smart brands have already figured out that photos increase engagement with stakeholders and their user experience. Experiences range from how a shirt makes you look to the way food tastes.

Great brands like Etsy and Five Guys extend their experience to the social web using photos. Check out Etsy on Pinterest and Five Guys on Facebook to see visual experiences via photography in action.

2) Monitor and Respond

We all know people use Twitter, Yelp and Facebook to discuss their brand experiences, good and bad.

Historically, brands like Comcast, Dell and Network Solutions pioneered listening and responding to complaints on these channels. Now most savvy brands engage in customer response on social networks.

Just because its an old tactic, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. Monitor online and respond.

Check out how B&H Photo does it, too. They respond to almost every mention, and make visitors chatting about their New York city store feel welcome.

3) Publicly Reward Your Stars

Crowdsource the Course
image by iwearyourshirt

Every brand has advocates and influencers that go to bat for them online, use their products more, and share just about every development.

Celebrate these stars online by rewarding them publicly in the social media where they play. It increases engagement, and makes interacting with the brand more fun. Give them T shirts, gift certificates, upgrades or whatever tchotchkes are at your marketing department’s disposal.

Social fundraising platform Crowdrise does a great job of this, giving away hoodies and T-shirts every day on Twitter, and hosts fun contests on its site.

4) Crowdsource Innovation

One of the bigger undercurrents at SxSWi 2010 was crowdsourcing. As brands realized how hard crowdsourcing innovation can be, the trend died down. Too bad, because stakeholders love contributing to their favorite brands’ product development.

Whether you use a formal crowd sourcing platform or simply a blog, be sure to ask customers for their ideas and thoughts on improving service and next generation products.

Starbucks and Dell remain the gold standard for crowdsourcing innovation with their customer loyalists. Dell has implemented more than 500 ideas submitted on its Idea Storm site to date.

5) Let Them Share Their Experience

Last, but not least, create a venue for customers to share their user experience on your site or on a social network like YouTube. The increasing proliferation of smartphones makes it easy for customers to create content. Videos, photos, or simple text feedback all work.

By empowering brand advocates to discuss their experiences in your house, you create case studies that speak to other potential customers with an authenticity that can’t be manufactured.

The Ford Fiesta Movement was one of the most successful social media campaigns featuring user generated video. Also check out GE’s Instagram contest.

What are some of your favorite ways to extend user brand experiences with social media?

Post Author

Geoff Livingston is an author, public speaker and strategist who helps companies and nonprofits develop fantastic marketing programs. He brings people together, virtually and physically to build loyal networks for business, change and higher knowledge. A former journalist, Livingston continues to...