Blog >
How to Build a Better Brand Relationship through Social Media


How to Build a Better Brand Relationship through Social Media

Matt Egol shares an article he co-authored with Mary Beth McEuen, and Emily Falk that explains how a marketing strategy informed by neuroscience can help companies enhance customer engagement and make better use of social media tools.

It was love at first sight for Nathan Aaron. The North Carolina graphic artist, illustrator, and social media proprietor first saw Method Inc.’s high-style, environmentally conscious household cleaning products on display in his local Target store. He was smitten.

“What caught my attention immediately was mint dish soap.… Now, I’m a mint fanatic! Crazy about the stuff.… Plus the gorgeous Karim Rashid packaging didn’t hurt things one bit. And that was the beginning of my, should I say, lust affair, with Method.” Aaron wrote that in 2008, in the first post on his new blog, Since then, he and a community of like-minded consumers have posted more than 1,000 paeans and gripes there, all devoted to the Method company and its brand proposition (fashionably designed, beautifully scented, nontoxic cleaning products). is nothing more or less than a fan site, similar to one you might see for a hit movie or television show. It contains reviews of the company’s products, commentary on its marketing strategy, interviews with employees at all levels, and reader polls — plus fierce critiques when Aaron (or a reader) thinks that the company has made a misstep.

Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry, the cofounders and chief executives of Method, are not put off by Aaron’s familiarity or independent-mindedness. On the contrary, they think he’s a dream consumer, and their marketing strategy is built around people like him. “To succeed in a world of earned and social media requires you to shift your mind-set from talking to customers to inspiring advocates,” they wrote in The Method Method: 7 Obsessions That Helped Our Scrappy Start-Up Turn an Industry Upside Down (Portfolio/Penguin, 2011). “Not only do advocates make good business sense by buying more of our products more often, but also they engage us — online, in writing, on the phone, and in person — teaching us all sorts of stuff we wouldn’t have figured out on our own.”

Would your company consider Nathan Aaron a dream consumer or a loose cannon? Would you encourage his public affair with your brand and listen to his ideas, or demand that he stop? Would you even know he was out there? Your answer says a lot about your approach to marketing and customer relationships.

Nathan’s devotion and Method’s response to it are becoming more typical. Some might attribute this trend — the increasing use of community engagement by marketers — to the rise of online social media: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, fan sites, and social marketing websites (also known as private-label media) created by companies themselves. (See “Scaling Up Social Media,” by Christopher Vollmer and Karen Premo.) But the trend represents a more fundamental change in marketing practice, linked to insights from social psychology, behavioral economics, and neuroscience and brain research. Every form of interaction between companies and consumers — taking place online and offline, in stores and over mobile devices, in branded content and by word of mouth, and indeed through all direct consumer experience — is now understood to be shaped by the social nature of brands.


Key points include:

  • Building a platform for an experience
  • The social nature of thought and action
  • Processing impressions


Read the full article, The Social Life of Brands, on