The #withoutshoes campaign by ecommerce retailer TOMS shoes was hugely successful this year at boosting the brand’s profile and also its philanthropic leanings. Not only did TOMS donate over quarter of a million shoes to needy children around the world, but it was able to reach millions of potential customers’ social media feeds through people sharing their images.
In an age in which there are over a billion Facebook users and 300 million Twitter users, positive interactions with customers can be used to reinforce a brand’s quality. Marketers have long understood the weight positive experiences have on the purchasing decisions of others. The advent of viral sharing via social channels means that one person’s positive experience with an organisation can be broadcast to millions of people. One of the most prominent recent examples of a positive interaction that exploded on social was Sainsbury’s decision to change the name of its ‘tiger bread’ to ‘giraffe bread’ at the behest of a young fan, which was ‘liked’ on the channel by over 150,000 people.
While not every positive interaction between brands and consumers will go viral to the extent of these campaigns, organisations can still use positive interactions to reinforce their quality. Twitter’s retweet function, for example, can be used to share the messages of satisfied customers – as can the favourite function.
However, with the added opportunities that viral interactions present come added threats. Negative interactions can also be shared virally, as London Overground found out when they suggested an aggrieved commuter should ‘leave early next time’ to avoid delays.