Brands that Engage

To date, the majority of brands that have experienced success online have done so by engaging customers through campaigns designed to involve online communities in the brands’ development. One-time give-a-ways and discount offers to followers will attract one-time visits, but brands that truly engage will be top of mind to customers for a much more significant and meaningful period of time. Involving them in the development of the brand, for example, gives customers a rooting interest in an outcome that they’ll follow with interest. Further, when companies accept input and feedback (and actually act on some of it) it makes customers feel like they’re more than just the end purchasers of the product.

Papa John’s recently launched a social media campaign called “Papa’s Specialty Pizza Challenge”. Customers have been given the challenge of creating a new specialty pizza for Papa John’s menu. The top three pizzas will be featured on the pizza chain’s menu through the month of August, with the winner being the pie that earns the highest sales figures.

The contest winner will receive 1% of sales (up to $10,000) for the one year period the pizza will be offered after the contest and free Papa John’s pizza for life. The winner will also appear in a Papa John’s television commercial.

A little like American Idol for pizza lovers, the new Papa John’s campaign is a great example of efforts made to engage customers online. Dominos recently used the online space to obtain feedback on it’s pizza and built a new receipe based on the customer input. Papa John’s; however, is going one step further, linking efforts to incentives that will undoubtedly create a buzz around the campaign. In my opinion, the contest offers more than just financial incentive, but the opportunity for loyal Papa John’s customers to become a part of the ‘Papa John’s family’.


Using Social Media for Customer Interaction

In a time when many companies have begun providing information for ‘free’ through blogs, webinars and other online channels it can be difficult to put real a value on published content.  There is a fine line between providing information for free and providing additional value to existing and potential customers. The consumer perception of something that is free is that it’s more disposable than something they’ve paid for. Providing too much (or the wrong content) for free could act to devalue your existing products and services rather than promote your company’s position within its industry.  It’s important that you understand these online channels as not only an opportunity to build your brand, but as an opportunity to provide better value and improved service to your customer base.

Online channels are special because they provide an opportunity for communication and interaction to scales never before achievable offline.  As I pointed out last week, 81% of holiday shoppers read customer reviews online.  What people can learn about your products and your brand online is an important part of the selling experience and acquiring new customers.

Do not be afraid of negative comments or feedback.

Many companies shy away from what are actually huge opportunities to build a more prominent presence online, simply because they are concerned that negative feedback will damage their reputation.  The truth is, if customers have a problem with your product, they’re probably talking about them anyways.  By avoiding feedback, you’re missing an opportunity to improve your products and learn what customers really want.  Truly progressive companies are the ones that aren’t afraid to tackle criticism and feedback head-on.   If customers have insights that aren’t being properly communicated, one could actually make the argument that, by avoiding regular feedback, organizations aren’t properly servicing their customers’ interests.  In most cases, customers will appreciate a company’s efforts to get to know their needs and will be happy simply knowing that they are being listened to.  

This Pizza Tastes Like Cardboard

Domino’s Pizza is an example of a company that used negative feedback to improve their product offering.  Despite being ranked first in pizza delivery and value, feedback received by customers helped management recognize the need for an improved taste and renewed product image.  One of the most frequently heard comments they received was that their pizza tasted like cardboard.  Domino’s has since gone back to the drawing board to create a new, better tasting pizza they believe will help improve their product’s reputation. They’ve embraced social media outreach to help reinvent their brand (see video below). If they hadn’t asked though, they never would have known what people really thought. 

For more on the online project visit:

It’s not enough to listen to only the people who happily purchase your products on a regular basis, because they’re probably going to buy your products anyways.  When it comes to social media we need to embrace the opportunities it creates to get to the heart of our customers problems and figure out what we can do to alleviate their pain points.