As each year passes, we see a greater interaction between brands and their targeted consumers thanks to social media and the influence of the digital platform. The evolution began slowly, but when the economy took a plunge and marketing budgets tightened, social media gave brands the opportunity to reach the consumer market more in-depth as a complement to their marketing and communication efforts. Immersing ourselves into the community and interacting with consumers can have a profound effect on sales, brand loyalty and positive word of mouth.

Zappos is a great example of a company whose success has been defined by a high level of brand to consumer interaction. Their consistent engagement, as well as their investment in their local community, has increased the company’s visibility ten-fold. Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh, knows just how vital the ROC (return on community) is and the importance of great customer service as a part of brand DNA. In fact, he has taken that investment into the Zappos community even further by rebuilding downtown Las Vegas, Zappos’ new headquarters, one building at a time. It’s not only quality of life at Zappos that is a priority, but the standard of living of the region in which the company does business. It’s about a relationship, something Hsieh understands (and lives) better than most CEO’s.

The biggest hurdle for a brand at the onset is the transition from single layer communications such as advertisements in print and television where they control the message–“This is our brand. This is our product. This is how our product can enhance your life,” to multi-layer and multi-faceted communications such as thorough product reviews on blogs, B2C interaction on microblogging sites such as Twitter and Tumblr, video campaigns on Vimeo and YouTube, pin boards on Pinterest, and their content strategy on Facebook. It’s not a new concept. However, the uncertainty often drives brands away from social media, or worse, they utilize it like another ad space limiting the degree to which a consumer can interact with them. There have even been reports that specific industries are ignoring their fans and followers altogether, unaware of the impact it will have on their brand image.

Is ignorance really bliss? Unfortunately for them, times are changing and they are changing fast. While print and broadcast are still effective ways to reach your target market, it’s not the only way. As customers grow to expect a relationship with the brands they use, the demand for interaction and a quick response from your team will continue to increase. Social media will soon be the primary way to communicate with consumers. You either keep up with the competition or go the way of the dinosaur.

The time is now for less talk and more interaction. How will your brand effectively demonstrate the ability to do this in new and unique ways?

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