Maximizing Social Media: Part 2 of 2

To see part one of this series, click here.

Networking is also a way to encourage customer storytelling – the best connections glue there is. Network can mean creating on-line events that function as a “watering hole” for customers. Facilitate interactions with other customers. Provide giveaways or drawings to promote a spirit of warmth and camaraderie. Ensure there are value-added takeaways that tie your organization to the network experience. Invite a special person your customers will want to meet.

Effective social media management involves figuring out what makes your customers different from others and then capitalize on it. Try to get inside your customers’ minds to unearth what unique need or desire your service can address. Help your customers feel they are a part of a special group with the same allure that the “The Few, the Proud, the Marines” has for a Marine recruit. When Jeff Bezos started he wanted to create an on-line experience of the neighborhood bookstore. Since there was no bookstore clerk to tell patrons about an obscure new mystery or the best book on crocheting, he turned the job over to customers, encouraging them to write book reviews. The result was a community of book lovers, or to quote Bezos, “neighbors helping neighbors make purchase decisions.”

The twin bean cans with the string was more than a tool for childhood communication. You had a friend on the other end of the string, an important part of your network of buds. You had a means to create a special identity by boldly creating a link that circumvented the oversight of adults. The cans were also a device that enabled secret-sharing, a bonding ritual that made you blood brothers (or sisters).

The advent of social media is revealing more about our customers than simply a faddish version of the cell phone or text messaging. It informs us customers want connections that matter and a means of expression that is valued. Properly understanding the anthropology of social media can be a great boon to the principles of building customer devotion.

P.S. Don’t order the Salisbury steak at Papa Pete’s in Norfolk. But, the fried okra is to die for.

Chip R. Bell and John R. Patterson are customer loyalty consultants and the authors of the best-selling book Take Their Breath Away: How Imaginative Service Creates Devoted Customers. They can be reached through

photo credit: bettyx1138