Imagine you’re sitting in a café with your friend in a catch-up session after not seeing each other for a while. You want them to be interested in what you have to say – your new job, relationship and more – but you can’t help but feel like you’re talking at them, rather than with them.

Yawning and eye-wandering ensues, and the discussion takes a turn for the worst.

Have you ever had the same reaction when a business tries to promote its brand to you? It’s yelling, “LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT THIS! LOOK WHAT’S NEW!” but quite frankly, you’re not interested, because it doesn’t apply to you. This is how you can quickly go from marketing to “noise.”

Worried your customers are doing a bit of eye-rolling themselves? Then start keeping your brand messages personalized, fresh and intimate. After all, when a customer feels like you’re talking with them, trust and brand loyalty inevitably develops.

Let’s take a look at some out-of-the box examples of how companies directly engaged their customers, and as a result, created an unbeatable brand strategy:

1.)    Double Up

When it comes to social media, anything and everything is fair game. After all, this is the ultimate platform to engage your customers, so it’s time to think outside of the 140-character box. Currently, 100,000 new tweets are sent per second, and so with a simple click of a button, your brand can be retweeted and distributed among Twitter’s wealth of users in mere seconds. Intimidated yet? Don’t be! Just find something to say worthy of customer engagement.

Consider Oreo and Kit Kat, two rivals who joined together to engage customers by dueling it out in a friendly game of Tic-Tac-Toe. It all began when one customer (Laura) tweeted, “Can tell I like chocolate abit too much when I’m following @KITKAT and @Oreo.” Kit Kat initiated the game two days later, directly (and personally) responding to her by tweeting, “The fight for [Laura’s] affections is on. @Oreo your move #haveabreak.”

Needless to say, the customer was enthralled with the fact that she was personally replied to by the company.

kitkat tweet

Not only has KitKat surely gained a customer for life, but it also showed that every single customer is incredibly important.

2.)     Create Unique Customer Contests

Sephora does an especially great job at increasing customer engagement this way. The make-up, hair and perfume company Tweets contests at least once a week asking followers to answer one question to be included in a special giveaway – that is, as long as they include #Sephoragiveaway in their response.

The main difference in this example is the hashtag. If you ask your followers to simply add a hashtag in their reply, you’re still keeping it easy and convenient for them while upping your brand’s ante.

sephora tweets

Also, Urban Outfitters took this one step further by promoting a contest in conjunction with the HBO smash hit series, “Girls.” The two brands partnered up in what soon became a Twitter phenomenon. All individuals who followed both companies’ Twitter accounts who Tweeted an Instagram shot of themselves in their apartment with the hashtag #UOxGIRLS would be entered into a contest to win one year’s worth of free-rent, as well as an apartment makeover from Urban Outfitters.

Again, these companies are placing a finger on the pulse of the customer by giving them the chance to win an amazing opportunity with very little effort involved.

Now it’s time to find out which of these can work best for you!

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