Brand engagement is about connecting with customers over time.
Early this year, we added the HeyTaco app to our company Slack channel. It’s an innovative app that brings a whole lot of fun to how our team interacts online every day.
At its most basic, this is how it works: “Everyone has five virtual tacos to give out each day. Give people tacos to show gratitude and recognize everything from small wins to huge accomplishments.” Since January, we’ve been watching the tacos stack up in our team thread.
We’ve upped the ante this month by creating a ‘Taco Madness Taco Bracket’ in honor of March Madness. We’ve gone head-to-head each week, posting updates on social media as team members are both eliminated and advanced. To our social media manager’s delight (that’s me), HeyTaco responded on LinkedIn, ‘liking’ our post and commenting that they were willing to throw in a HeyTaco Prize Pack for the winner.
Last week, a package showed up on my desk full of Hey Taco swag. I was thoroughly delighted. Because even after nearly a decade of working in social media, there’s something still so impressive about a brand that engages with its users and puts its money where its mouth is.
What is Brand Engagement and Why Does It Matter
Brand engagement is more than the initial contact that a brand makes with a potential customer; it’s about creating and developing a connection with customers over time. It’s about fostering customer loyalty.
For a company and its brand to be successful long-term, brand engagement can be a game-changer in these ways.
1. Increased brand awareness.
The simple fact is that people talk about what they love. Their significant other, favorite sports team, beloved TV show, and brands to which they feel loyal. I’ve convinced several friends to put Oxo kitchen supplies on their wedding registries simply because I love them so much and won’t buy anything else. This is exactly the kind of word-of-mouth promotion you want to have working in your favor. Loyal customers are the best form of marketing.
2. Greater competitive edge.
You always want to be mindful of keeping yourself set apart from your competitors so your customers will stay loyal and keep their business with you—and brand engagement is certainly one way that you can set yourself apart. Because every engagement is an opportunity to build trust, and brands that are trusted tend to rise above the pack.
3. More sales.
Brand engagement demonstrates to your customers that you care because you’re willing to take the time to respond. In one 2022 report, 60% of consumers said that brands need to care more about them. Brand engagement, especially on social media, is a quick and free way to communicate to your customers that you give a darn—and customers who feel cared for are more willing to spend money with you.
Brands Who Do Brand Engagement Right
Some companies are better than others at engaging in just the right ways and are building relationships with their customers that keep them making purchases over and over again. Here are some of my favorites:
Dove is a leading global personal care brand that strives to help women and girls everywhere build their self-esteem. They have a deep commitment to helping women of all ages feel comfortable in their own skin. Dove has implemented a variety of engagement initiatives, including their #RealBeauty campaign, to help accomplish this with tactics like interactive online and offline experiences, engaging content, and a loyalty program that rewards users for their commitment to the brand. Dove's engagement efforts have been hugely successful and have helped them to build an incredibly strong and loyal customer base.
Apple is one of the most recognizable brands in the world and has achieved immense success in the realm of brand engagement. They have created an entire ecosystem of products and services that are integrated together to offer customers a seamless user experience. Apple’s focus on simplicity and user experience has created an emotional connection with its customers, which has enabled them to build a strong and loyal following. Through social media, Apple has been able to create engaging conversations with its customers, especially on Twitter. Apple’s brand engagement efforts have been incredibly successful and have helped them maintain their position as one of the most influential brands in the world.
Starbucks is well known for its strong brand engagement. They have been incredibly successful in engaging with customers through social media, evidenced by their over 46 million followers on Instagram and over 43 million followers on Twitter. They have long been on the leading edge of innovation when it comes to social media, staying on top of the trends and utilizing user-generated content (UGC). Dating back to 2014 with the #WhiteCupContest where users were asked to doodle on plain white cups and share their efforts on social media with the hashtag, Starbucks has been the reigning queen of UCG campaigns for nearly a decade. And there’s no better way to create connections with customers than UGC.
And now, thanks to Revel’s #TacoMadness bracket, I would add HeyTaco to the list. A brand that hit the market in 2018, HeyTaco has made a name for itself as an employee recognition tool. Even a quick scan of their social media profiles shows how intentional they are about engaging with customers who are utilizing their plug-in and upping their employee recognition game. Plus, you know, they sent a swag bag to a marketing agency hundreds of miles away from their headquarters to help us embrace the fun of our little competition and the fun of their service.
At the end of the day, brand engagement needs to be part of any successful social media strategy. It allows you to create connections with the people in your audience, so they feel cared for and appreciated, which will ultimately lead to brand loyalty. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, though, and you need to figure out the best way to connect with your customers. Sometimes it will mean UGC. Other times, it means quippy and sincere responses to social posts or sending company swag to customers who use your product or service.
Personally, I’m excited to pass on the taco socks from HeyTaco to our champion next week. Look for photos on Revel’s social media.