Twitter is more than just a tool to get your message across in 140 characters or less; it’s a way for brands to connect with consumers and build meaningful relationships with them. Millennials have come to expect personalized interactions on Twitter with companies replying to their messages, thanking them, and quickly answering their questions or concerns. However some brands are taking their engagement to the next level and showing how much they appreciate their followers in real life. They’re creating memorable in-person experiences specifically for their followers who they realize have enormous social influence and can spread their message further.
Earlier this year, Mellow Mushroom employed this approach in its “Follow Us and We’ll Follow You” campaign. The pizza chain arranged for its yellow mushroom mascot to follow 20 of its Twitter followers in the physical world. However in a fun twist, the selected users did not initially know they were being followed. Mellow Mushroom coordinated the outings with users’ family and friends so that its mascot would stalk the individuals and capture the meet up on camera. While this may sound creepy, it ended up being a unique way for the brand to play a joke on select followers and create comical YouTube videos that celebrate and bring fans to fame. Mellow Mushroom broke the barriers of the typical consumer/company interaction on Twitter and gave people something to talk – or tweet – about.
Taylor Swift utilized a similar strategy to promote her hit album “Red.” She invited a group of her Twitter followers to follow her in real life during her promotional tour in NYC. The fans posted live updates to Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #TaylorFollowers, providing other fans with behind the scenes access in real-time too. The in-person followers also shared what they learned about Taylor’s creative process to help fans forge an even closer connection to Taylor and her music. This unique experience rewards fans for their endless support on social media and taps into the tribe mentality that teens have developed to show their admiration for an artist.
While these approaches stand out for their unique take on what it means to be a Twitter follower, brands don’t have to physically follow fans to generate attention. They can consider other ways to use the social network to reward followers and show how much they appreciate their social support. Kellogg’s for example created a pop-up Tweetshop in London where money was not accepted; rather, fans used social currency and tweeted to receive Special K Cracker Crisps. Customers were excited about the free snacks and also built a connection with Kellogg’s in sharing their happiness with the rest of their network. As Millennnials’ online and offline lives are merging, brands should consider creative ways to tie social media into the physical world. In doing so, they can emphasize how much they value individuals for following their company on Twitter, tweeting at them, or using a hashtag to help them build online buzz.