The Best Brands Blend In on Social Media

Best brands blend in on social media

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Pandering, self-promotion, and insensitivity are just a few common social media marketing sins. These ten brands stay ahead of the pack by creating relatable and natural messaging that doesn’t feel like a sales pitch.

1. BarkBox Entertains Obsessed Pet Owners

Each month, Barkbox, a subscription service for dog owners obsessed with their pets, sends a serendipitous supply of products that include everything from toys to tasty treats.

The company also provides an equally serendipitous supply of humor on its Facebook Page, which dog owners are bound to love.

Many posts, like this one, are written from the vantage point of the dog.

Barkbox Facebook post

The company has amassed more than 500,000 Likes on its Page, and each post routinely garners hundreds of likes, comments and shares.

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2. Comcast Presents Customers with the Personal Touch

Visit the Comcastcares Twitter account, and you won’t see the Comcast brand name or logo, but a person’s name and image – Will Osborne, a Comcast customer care representative.

Comcast’s philosophy is that social media is a personal medium and should be treated as such. With that understanding, the company has designed its customer service Twitter channel to feel more like an interaction with a friend than a brand.

Comcastcares Twitter post

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3. Staples Cures Workday Doldrums

Not only does Staples sell office supplies, it provides humor that anyone who works in an office can appreciate. If you experience the workday doldrums, hop on over to Staples’ Twitter account for a little pick-me-up.

Staples Twitter post

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4. Zappos Cares About Customers and Culture

Few companies “get” social media better than Zappos. As much as it focuses on promoting products via social media, the company “sells” its culture and uses that as a way to engage with customers.

“At Zappos, our goal is to build the brand to be about the very best customer service and the very best customer experience,” said Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh. “However, our #1 priority is actually not customer service. Our #1 priority is company culture. Our belief is that if you get the culture right, then most of the other stuff, like great customer service and building a great brand, will happen naturally on its own.”

According to Hsieh, Zappos uses Twitter to build and expose its company culture both internally to employees, as well as to customers. “Part of the Zappos brand is about forming personal connections, and for us that happens through the telephone as well as through Twitter,” he said.

Zappos Twitter post

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5. Sony Mobile Listens and Answers (most of the time)

Sony Mobile proves that electronic global brands can encourage fans to communicate and engage. According to social analytics site, Socialbakers, in 2012, fans posted 3,449 questions to Sony’s Facebook timeline. Of those, 2,354 received answers, which represented a 68% question response rate. (Even better, Nike Running answered 1,400 questions posted to its timeline, which represented an 85% response rate.)

The lesson: listen and respond to your customers.

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6. Paw Paw’s Camper City Entertains and Educates

Gulf coast RV dealer and Bizzuka client, Paw Paw’s Camper City knows that its customers want to enjoy life on the open road and, at the same time, get the most value out of their camper or RV. Through entertaining and educational content, the company uses its Facebook Page to address both needs.

Paw Paws Bessie the cow Facebook post

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Each of the brands presented up to this point are retail-oriented. However, B2B companies can leverage social media, too. We complete our list of 10 with four B2B companies who represent best-of-breed.

7. General Electric Optimizes Instagram

Since 2011, General Electric has used Instagram to showcase its most impactful technology to a community of more 174,000 followers. GE combines images of groundbreaking research with those that tell the story of its 120-year history.

General Electric Instagram

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8. Maersk Proves B2B Social Media Doesn’t Have to be Boring

Danish container shipping line, Maersk, proves that B2B and social media can be a good mix and that having a presence on social networks doesn’t have to be boring.

The company maintains a presence on 10 different social networks including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Flicker, Tumblr, Vimeo and Chinese social network Weibo, much of which is curated on a site Maersk developed in 2011 called Maersk Line Social.

Maersk Line Social

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9. Dell Ideastorm Gives Customers a Voice in the Conversation

In 2007, Dell started Ideastorm, a branded community that was created to give customers a voice in product development. Customers can submit ideas, which the company considers for inclusion in new products. To date, more than 21,000 ideas have been submitted; over 500 have been implemented by the company.

Dell Ideastorm

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10. Halo Supply Showcases the Power of Video

Halo Supply serves the oil & gas industry by manufacturing wire rope. The company produced a series of videos showing its products being made and tested, which it published to YouTube.

While that may not sound terribly exciting, one video – Fabricating a 4-Part Chain Sling – has been viewed more than 328,000 times! Others in the series have been seen multiplied thousands of times, as well.

Social Media Best Practice: Put the Customer First

These brands have learned three valuable lessons, each of which puts the needs of the customer first and foremost.

1. Know your customer. If you know what your customers’ needs, you can create content that appeals to them.

2. Listen to your customer. Social media can be likened to a digital listening post where you can have conversations with customers, ask questions that lead to a better understanding of their needs, and where you can get to know them on a more personal level.

3. Be useful to your customer. In his best-selling book, Youtility, author and social media expert Jay Baer says that marketing through social media is more about “help” than “hype.”

There’s a term for that: social utility.

Whether brands express social utility through the use of entertaining content or that which educates, informs or inspires, people will connect with those that put the needs of its customers first.