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5 Brands That Make Customers the Star on Social Media

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Are you relationship material? Or do you, ahem, only talk about yourself?

A study by Edelman found that 87 percent of people want meaningful interactions with brands, but only 17 percent believe that brands deliver them.

About two-thirds of the survey respondents said their relationships with brands are one-sided. In other words, they feel that they’re the ones giving to the relationship and that brands only take.

Yikes. That’s a lot of relationship issues. So what does all this mean for your business?

Edelman says consumers want brands that are more participatory and engaging. Your customers long to be part of things. One way to do that is to spotlight them in meaningful ways on your social channels. For ideas, check out what these five brands are doing.

1. Sephora

Beauty retailers and magazine editors used to be the main influencers of what makeup products became hits. But today beauty bloggers and vloggers have changed all that. Sephora has done a great job adapting to that shift and realizing that customers like learning from and being inspired by other real-life makeup lovers. The cosmetics store encourages fans to upload their favorite makeup looks, and it features them on its website and social media channels, including the Makeup of the Day board on Pinterest. Sephora also makes social media followers feel special with promotions like Fan Fridays discount codes.

2. Applebee’s

The restaurant chain has spent the past year betting in a big way on customer-generated content for its Instagram account. Scroll through Applebee’s feed and you’ll see mostly images from “Fantographers.” A nice touch is the prominent, well-designed logo that credits each Fantographer. According to Adweek, the campaign has paid off for Applebee’s, both in number of followers and in their engagement.

3. Airbnb

Many of you will have already seen Airbnb’s “Is Mankind?” commercial.¬†Its¬†social media channels convey that same message of kindness and connection, often through user-generated content. That’s worth noting, because in the Edelman survey, 58 percent of respondents said “the clarity of a brand’s conviction” is important. On its Instagram feed, Airbnb shares fan images that reinforce its brand values. And on Twitter, Airbnb recently promoted its Chicago city guide, created with input from its hosts in that city.

4. ModCloth

This online clothing and accessories retailer also uses customer-generated content to tell the world what it’s all about: style that celebrates an indie sensibility and inclusive beauty. ModCloth’s This Stylish World Pinterest board shows off fans rocking some of their favorite ModCloth looks. Customers also get highlighted on ModCloth’s other social channels, including Facebook and Twitter.

5. Flor

If your product is one that your fans can customize or use creatively, they could be posting some great social media content that you can show off. Take Flor. Customers turn the carpet squares into an endless array of patterns and formations to fit their tastes and their space. Flor shares its fans’ masterpieces on social channels including Instagram and Facebook. (Need more ideas for making your Facebook page look snazzier? We’ve got them.)

Remember, you can use Viraltag to find content people have been sharing about your brand. Just search Instagram in the post feature for hashtags and keywords related to your brand and see what you find.


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Sarah Beckham

Sarah Beckham is a freelance writer and editor based in Austin, Texas.

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