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If there’s one thing we’ve learned from social media, it’s that it cuts both ways – you can get a lot of mileage out of these platforms if you’re savvy about how you reach your audience, but you can also turn them off by promoting content that feels too sales-y, especially if you’re going after the Millennial audience.

In this post, we’re going to look at some examples of brands that are winning at social media by utilizing interesting, attention-grabbing methods which help generate engagement and build brand loyalty.

Here we go.

1. How Charmin Gave Customers the Freedom To Tweet About ‘Going’

Charmin is a brand that’s made a full-frontal assault on social media, with campaigns on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Google+. 

But having a presence on social media doesn’t guarantee you anything if you don’t tie your message in with your product or service. Charmin’s #TweetFromtheSeat campaign encourages users to tweet their thoughts while doing what comes naturally in the bathroom.

Charmin’s known for skirting the edges of tastefulness, yet never quite going over the line. And by pushing the envelope with ‘bathroom humor’ – which everyone can relate to – Charmin has used comedy in a creative way that ties into its core product, and encourages customers to have fun with a basic need that was once taboo.

The takeaway is that using humor which is tied into your product or service can make your social media campaigns feel less like a sale, and more like a personal connection.

2. Morton’s Steakhouse’s Above-and-Beyond Customer Service

Smart brands pay attention to their social media channels, so that when there is an opportunity for extraordinary customer service, they can take advantage.

Morton’s Steakhouse was given this opportunity recently, when a customer tweeted a request from aboard a flight that he would love it if the premium steak restaurant would have a porterhouse ready for him when he landed in Newark in two hours.

A pretty crazy, throwaway request, right? But Shankman wasn’t just an ordinary Twitter fan of Morton’s, he had 110,000 followers, and was something of an influencer among the steak-lovers crowd.

Morton’s cleverly took advantage of this tweet by sending a representative to meet Shankman at the gate in Newark with a 24-ounce Porterhouse steak, an order of Colossal Shrimp, potatoes, bread and silverware.

Shankman was stunned of course, but more importantly, Morton’s was able to turn what most brands would have ignored as a throwaway request into a powerful example of its willingness to provide customer service by any means necessary.

The takeaway? Find opportunities from your own social media followers to do something that will cleverly communicate your commitment to customer service.

3. Jet Blue Rewards Customer Loyalty

JetBlue has long had a reputation for providing outstanding customer service – probably because the company realized that keeping a customer was much less expensive than finding a new one.

So the company came up with a clever campaign in which it sent its ‘Chief People Officer’ on random flights to hand passengers free airline tickets to anywhere in the country the carrier flew. 

Stunned and grateful passengers began flooding their social media accounts with stories about this mysterious person who was handing out free tickets, and eventually the company admitted that this was person was, in fact, their representative.

But you can imagine the goodwill JetBlue generated on social media by rewarding customer loyalty in a way that was unique and sure to grab attention.

Are there ways your business can reward customer loyalty in a clever way? 

For example, a shoe company could send customers free shoes based on past purchases as a ‘thank you.’

The goodwill you generate on social media through grateful customers is worth a lot more than what you’re giving up in free products or services.

4. Starbucks Solicits Ideas Directly From Their Customers

If you’re a brand as well-known as Starbucks, you can pretty much put out any kind of coffee flavor, and people will buy it. But Starbucks realized that making customers feel like they were part of the company could pay off with a greater level of engagement.

So the coffee giant created the @MyStarbucksIdeas campaign on its Twitter page, in which people were encouraged to submit their thoughts about how to improve existing products, suggest new ones, or just discuss ideas they had about their local franchise.

Starbucks has launched more than 300 ideas directly from this campaign, and the forum not only engages customers by soliciting their thoughts, but it also makes them feel as if they’re a valued part of a brand that strives to be inclusive.

The takeaway? Enable your social media followers to offer suggestions and improvements, or to just give their ideas about future products or services. It can make your audience feel empowered, and provide more immediate connection to your brand.

Never Stop Looking For Opportunities To Engage

When you analyze the ways in which these four brands have utilized social media engagement, you realize that regardless of the way they’ve gone about it, the bottom line was always to provide something valuable to the target audience.

You need to view every opportunity for engagement not as a possible means of going viral, but as a way of communicating what your business stands for – whether it’s on a one-on-one basis, or by engaging as many people as possible to share new ideas and suggest improvements to existing products and services. 

Social media can be a brutal platform when things go wrong and customers are dissatisfied, but it can also provide you with a massive forum where you can use humor, imagination and gratitude to win over hearts and minds.

Hopefully these campaigns get you thinking about your own social marketing approach. 

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