Establishing a relationship with your customers is important.  In a tough market where price comparisons are almost insignificant, the relationship you have with your customer can make a difference.

My very first exposure with the ethos behind social media started in my early days in the university.  I was once asked to assist in sending sponsorship letters for our university. It was a simple task, but it was a significant learning experience.

I was part of a team who had to send the letters out, get a response with the goal of getting some sponsorship.  It’s pretty much like direct marketing.  However, compared to the direct marketing norm on those days, everything was made personal.

Notably, our dean (also a Harvard graduate) that time was very popular and considered as a leading authority in his industry.

He made each letter personal by writing a personal note to each recipient using a pen.  It could either be a short note or simply crossing out Dear Ms. ABC in the letter and writing Hi Maricel using his pen.   He always signs the letters himself…it’s not one of those electronically generated signatures.

It was not hard to solicit sponsorship.  I discovered that our university had a ready list of sponsors.  However, the university doesn’t call them as sponsors but Circle of Friends.  These are companies who became part of our university’s network.  The CEOs know our university in a personal or professional level.

Predictably, we had an overwhelming sponsorship response from the university’s Circle of Friends.

I consider this as one of the traditional examples of social media at work before it became electronic. If you want to sell something, make sure you don’t only know your customers but it would pay off if you treat them as an extended network of your company.  Provide them some intrinsic value, interact with them, and rally them to form a community, but most of all be real and relate to them on a personal level.

During my career as a real estate marketing manager, this ethos behind social media gave me the leverage over my competition.

I had a good rapport with my clients.  I gained their trust through my professionalism.  My own Circle of Clients grew by referral.  In return, I made sure that they don’t only get utmost service but I was also a friend that they can approach.  Trust became synonymous to my profession.  During negotiations, my level of trust with my clients allowed me to have greater flexibility so we can come up with the best possible outcome.

These allowed me to survive in a tough market.  I don’t compete against my competitors. The ethos of social media allowed me to rise above the competition.

Now, thanks to the latest technologies such as tablets and mobile devices social media was elevated to a whole new level.  However, the guiding principle is still the same…establish relationships, create communities and gain the trust of your customers.  The advent of social media platforms made it easier to integrate it in the company’s business operations.  It is not only a marketing effort, but customer service and R&D (Research and development) also plays an important role.  It’s not good enough to simply provide goods and services…great customer service is also highly regarded.  By maintaining a dialogue with your customers, you learn more about their needs, wants, what doesn’t work and even what annoys them.  These are important inputs for your company’s R&D.

Sometimes, common sense is better than scientific evidence in creating a good marketing campaign, product or service. This is what makes social media popular.  It is not rocket science.  It appeals to the masses.   It is so easy to do that it is accessible to everyone.  It has the best media reach, because it can be accessed by more people in a choice of electronic devices.  The technology and portability of tablets and (especially) mobile devices allowed people to make social media a way of life.  Thus, if you want to be in touch with your consumers and be part of their way of life…don’t underestimate the power of social media.

The Toyota Social Media campaign is a testimony of how social media can help your company penetrate a tough market.

Here are some excerpts from Mindjumper’s article “Great Value Created by Toyota in Tough Market with Social Media“, so you can have an overview of how a simple social media contest reached over 1.3 Million target consumers.

The Challenge

“NASCAR fans have long pledged their allegiance to the American-made cars that dominate the tracks. In order to grow the brand, Toyota needed to start appealing to this audience. But simply winning races isn’t enough.”

The Strategy

“Toyota’s long-time fan tracking study showed that NASCAR fans are heavily involved with social media.”

What they did

“Toyota Sponsafier became a NASCAR-themed site at that allowed participants to design their own race Camry. Graphic elements were made available or participants could upload their own to design in 3D. But the most exciting part was the contest extension. The winning design would become the Grand Marshall car at the Charlotte race. Fans would post their entries on the site, but what really took off was their involvement of sharing their designs on Facebook and Twitter in order to drum up votes for their Camry from among their friends.”

The Result

– Over 9,900,000 page views were recorded
– 101,000 fans submitted designs
– 150,000 signed-up to become registered users of
– 857,000 total shares
– Over 1.3 million fans voted

Toyota’s social media campaign was a resounding success…both in numbers and in introducing a Japanese brand to something as American as Nascar.  This is a great example of why we should not underestimate the value of social media.  For Toyota, it is the easiest way to grab the attention of the Nascar fans in a medium popular to them.  Toyota was able to capture the hearts of the all-American Nascar fans by listening, inviting them to a co-creation opportunity and getting them involved.  The fans were happy to get involved and through their own social network the campaign became viral…from 101,000 fans who submitted designs to over 1.3 million fans!

Remember, Social Media is not just about media reach or simply broadcasting your product.  It is involving your consumers to take part in building your own communities whether to establish brand credibility, build awareness or create brand loyalty.

Have you thought about your social media campaign? Do you have any successful social media campaigns you want to share? In case  you haven’t considered using social media to build your business yet, it is about time that you do.

Cheers to your social media success,


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