It sounds so simple:  The key to effective social media marketing is connecting with your customer.

But some businesses mistakenly believe that means the literal connection – the Twitter “follow”, or the coveted Facebook “like”. They think just getting the customer to click that button in the first place is the goal.

As we’ve pointed out, that’s actually just the beginning.  Keeping that connection – and engaging your customers with a human voice – is the key to using social media to successfully develop your brand. And while we hate to say “We told you so…” (Who are we kidding? We love to be right!)

MediaPost has an interesting piece on New Jersey-based Snack Factory, one of the fastest-growing snack companies in the country. Despite a nationwide recession, they saw sales grow by 15% last year. And while their success is driven by hard work and a quality product, their tagline “Rethink Your Pretzel!” applies not only to their snack, but their social media presence.

Their Facebook page, for example, offers everything from recipes and the occasional coupon… to humor. They’ve picked up over 60,000 fans in a matter of months, a fact their VP of marketing attributes to the brand’s “voice”.

“We engage consumers with a fun brand personality… For instance, we posted humorous ‘updates’ and comments around the royal wedding, which generated large numbers of fan postings and new fans. We’re not just constantly selling the products, which endears the brand to consumers.”

Their Twitter campaign is even more interesting. Their team members spend part of each day monitoring tweets for keywords like “snack”, “pretzel”, or “hungry”. They contact prime tweeters and deliver Pretzel Crisp samples.

“These tweeters of course then tweet about how cool it was that Pretzel Crisps just brought them free bags of our snacks, and how good they are, and those positive messages are reaching hundreds of thousands of their followers.”

And what about the all-important ROI?

“…dollar for dollar, we’re finding that social media is the best investment, because once a consumer ‘likes’ us, we can continue to engage with and market to that person, at very small additional or incremental cost… We don’t have the marketing budgets of the biggest brands, but we’re producing extremely cost-effective results through strategic social media efforts.”

Remember what we’ve told you? Answer their questions, make them smile and they’ll remember to tell their friends about you when it comes time to make their decisions about purchasing a product.

And we get it… we do. Not every business can dedicate team members to monitoring tweets for keywords, or keeping enough of the human element in your Facebook page to make people actually “like” you, not just click the dang button. Small businesses have work to do!

That’s where we come in.

Contact Cote LLC today to learn how we can take you past the initial connection (there’s that button again!) to the kind of engaged, human connection your customers, fans, and followers will reward with loyalty and recommendations to others.