Organization Name: Mountain Equipment Co-operative (MEC)
Industry: Retail (Canadian consumers’ co-operative, selling outdoor equipment and clothing)
While MEC may prepare patrons for some wild offline adventures in remote locations, it first needs to reach customers online. Taking advantage of a myriad of social media channels to engage its customers, MEC recognizes that authenticity and transparency are prerequisites to developing trust – the essential ingredient for true customer loyalty.
Social Media expert, Pam Moore, CEO and Founder of Marketing Nutz, a full-service social media and digital marketing agency explains the importance of organizations humanizing their brands in order to optimally connect with customers in the following audio clip.
In keeping with Pam’s advice, MEC pulls on audiences’ heart strings with inspiring videos on YouTube.
MEC also uses humour to humanize its brand as you can see on the video of a camping rap battle that is currently being highlighted on Twitter and Facebook. The positive responses on Facebook speak for themselves in terms of creating favourable associations with customers.
To have some fun with all the ways there are to camp, we partnered with IFHT to create an Epic Camping Rap Battle: https://t.co/flGBwdGKmr
— MEC (@mec) June 5, 2015
The MEC blog offers expert advice which is very helpful to customers when researching equipment and clothing at MEC stores. Customers gladly subscribe to the blog to receive this useful information.
MEC has also posted guidance on google+.
Always open to new ideas, in 2011, to further entice customer participation, MEC conducted a photo contest on Flickr. It is currently offering another avenue for customers to have their photos featured – this time on Twitter.
“We also believe in transparency, and in 2008, were the first retailer in Canada to publish our factory list. We continue to update and publish this list twice a year.”
The following infographic contains a few ideas on how social media can be used to deliver on the promise of organizational transparency which MEC adheres to very well.
MEC uses social media to poll audiences on merchandise preferences. This is a great way to engage customers and conduct research on its product offerings at the same time. Recently on Facebook MEC posed the following question.
That question elicited the following exchange:
By opening a discussion and not closing off after a somewhat negative response, MEC informed these individuals that the organization is listening to their feedback and action is being taken. Having this exchange take place in the public forum of Facebook enables all readers to see MEC is being true to its word of valuing transparency.
It is important to note that even an organization which has built its reputation on the positive image of environmental and social responsibility, can encounter disapproval via social media. But as long as it is handled in an up-front fashion, the long-term effect will be beneficial as social media audiences will reward honesty by remaining loyal.
Lessons for Others:
- Using social media channels for customer engagement involves humanizing your brand and remaining authentic and transparent in order to be effective. Anything less in this day-and-age runs the risk of alienating your customers.
- Remember all social media exchanges are two-way dialogues with audiences. Customers ultimately want to be heard and even if they have criticism for your organization, as long as it is dealt with pro-actively and honestly the outcome will ultimately shine a positive light on you. While you can’t be all things to all people, if you remain true to your values, customer loyalty will be your reward. Just like people remain friends with those they trust.
Submitted By: Toby Little, SMBP student
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