Know Thy Customers (Rule #1: Don’t Use “Thy” When Talking to Them)

Successful companies build relationships with their customers, and to do that effectively they have to speak like their customers. Social media is no different. Given the jocular and pithy nature of the space, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube messaging that tracks informal and humorous tends to work best. That’s who the customers are, or want to be.

So Old Spice is hailed for its multi-platform integration of the Big Three (Twitter, Facebook and YouTube) in its naked guy advertising campaign. Gillette too got kudos (and lots more “followers” and “friends”) with the humorous “manscaping” theme to sell razors.

The jocular tone could benefit other firms. “Many companies need to learn how to be, well, friendlier in a social space,” Sam Ford, director of Digital Strategy at Peppercom Communications, told

An obvious key to effective communication is listening – and in marketing, listening to the customer. This is a lesson still to be learned by most in the social media space. The Old Spice guy showed the way as he tweeted followers in real time, directly addressing their comments. A collective gasp escaped the blogosphere: “Genius!” (That’s what 13 million YouTube page views and 43,000 Twitter followers in 48 hours sounds like.) The commercials also scored points with marketing experts by not hawking the brand too hard, but simply tucking the cologne into the towel of the topless dude, letting it speak for itself.

Of course you can’t just mimic someone else’s campaign and get the same effect. The novelty is gone. So the lesson is determining who your customer is, how they like to see themselves and how they talk amongst themselves. The lesson is not trying to sell your Chevy with a buff model dressed only in a towel.

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