How to Engage With Your Customers – Smile…Pass It On!

In this current series of Building Your Brand articles we are taking a look at companies from many different industries to gain an insight into some best business practices. Click here for the full list of articles. 

With the rapid growth in social networking through sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn we are seeing a cultural shift in the way people engage with each other and the brands they buy from.

A few years ago it would seem strange to have a relationship with a brand that goes beyond just discussing the product you’ve bought from them or are thinking about buying from them. Today things have changed. More and more people are conditioning themselves to have relationships with logos.

The important question now is – Do businesses have the ability to be human?

One business that I believe does this phenomenally well is Sanuk. Founded by Southern Californian Jeff Kelley, “Sanuk provides creatively inspired yet distinctively designed footwear products for the global outdoor community. Taking its name from the Thai word for fun, Sanuk strives to make innovative products that are as much about funk as they are about function.”

Why should I engage with my customers?

For many this seems like a stupid question but it is worrying how many businesses neglect to focus on engagement. In previous articles we’ve talked about the changes in the way people consume information. You can no longer shout a sales message at your target audience and expect them to listen. With the huge rise in mobile internet usage people have so much more control over when and where they get their news and media.

You need to create a much stronger one-to-one relationship with your customers and that will help you build context around your messages to make it relevant for them. Engaging with customers will help you initiate and nurture these relationships.

How do I engage with my customers?

Sanuk use several platforms to engage with their audience and by far the most effective one for them is Facebook. They have 86,422 fans but the important stat to pay attention to is the “Talking About This” number. I’ve seen their engagement go up to 5% which for a brand with so many followers that is extremely impressive, bearing in mind that the most popular Facebook brand Coca-Cola rarely get above 0.9%.

So how have they done this?

Sanuk have created a brilliant community around their brand. They talk to people that want to listen, they really understand who their target audience is and what they like. They get involved in the community as well by sponsoring a spectrum of athletes that match their brand, such as surfers and rock climbers. They then use all the great content they have from the different outdoor events they get involved in and share it on Facebook.

They also let their fans post on their Facebook wall, encouraging people to post videos and photos of them using their product.

Here are some top Facebook tips inspired by Sanuk:

  • Ask your followers questions that are relevant
  • Answer peoples queries and respond to those that post
  • Of all the content you provide ensure only around 10% is about your products and the rest is focussed on content that your audience will find helpful and/or interesting
  • Run competitions that are driven by people’s passion, not by an iPad reward
  • Post lots of videos and photos
  • Use the Profile Pictures on the top left to showcase your brand values and keep it regularly updated.

Going beyond Facebook

Engagement is viewed by many brands to be solely down to Facebook and Twitter. This is not the case. We’ve discussed in previous articles how critical it is to be consistent in everything you do and Sanuk execute this perfectly. Their website, Twitter, Blog, and Vimeo page all stay consistent in their imagery and tone of voice.

The Sanuk slogan is Smile…Pass It On! and this message comes across as though they really mean it as it is consistent in all they say and do.

When trying to engage and build relationships with your customers then staying true to a uniform brand message is so important if you want to be authentic. Authenticity is a bit of a buzz word in the marketing industry at the moment and unfortunately some companies see it as more of an advertising tactic than something that should be at the heart of their business values.

If you are unauthentic then you’ll really struggle to engage with people and consistency in everything you communicate will really help with this.

That’s all from me. I hope you’ll have found some of my tips useful and help you to build your brand. Over the coming weeks we’ll be posting lots more articles focussing on some great business case studies. Subscribe to our RSS feed to stay updated.

I’ll leave you with a little bit of Sanuk News from Diamond Donny’s. Smile…Pass It On!

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Written by James Hay, Social Media Coordinator at Fasthosts Internet Ltd.

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