In these fast-changing times of digital gadgets and gizmos and people with short attention spans and seeking perpetual entertainment – be it from content or communication, we need to look a newer ways to address this problem of brand engagement. So where we seek to be in places where our audiences are, it is important to create engaging and involving situations where the customer is excited to recognise and be a part of the brand. A prominent communications and brand expert recalls how in his earliest days of Facebook, he saw a snapshot of Harnik peppermint cigarettes – ones that he remembered and loved from his boyhood days. The page asked him to ‘like’ and become a fan. He promptly did. Nothing was ever heard from the brand. He became a mere statistic among the thousands of the fans of the brand. Another case another brand: a young woman who swears by her wardrobe of the Zara range not just ‘likes’ Zara – she loves it! But does the brand show the same reciprocity? Does a Spanish couture brand concern itself with a loyal fan, thousands of miles away? It should. Reciprocity and responsiveness go a long way in ensuring a brand’s experiences remain happy and positive among its fans. As a marketer, do not fall into the trap of getting gleeful with lots of likes on your FB fan page. Go ahead and do something with each of them. How about becoming a fan of the user? Asking him or her what gets them going. Their pulses racing. What do they want? What are they happiest or unhappiest about?

New marketing approaches are emerging constantly, because of changing customer habits, attitudes and expectations. Even market research in all these years is evolving, responding to changing marketing approaches and research briefs – but in all of this, our consumer’s browsing and info-consuming habits are changing silently, unobtrusively.

We need to obsess over the user and not the medium per se – these days brand stories are being told differently – in media agnostic formats.

Contrast the just shared cases with the social media engagement process American Centre Library. Not only do they engage with their fans, give out hampers and special invites, they respond to each person directly by name. They seek to be a part of every happening whether in India or in the US. Whether it is their festival or one of ours. Asking people what they think, how do they celebrate, upload snapshots, engage with each other and do so much more.

Suddenly it is no longer a corporate or an institutional robot or a monolith. They have taken on a jovial, cheerful, human persona.

Isn’t that what we would all want our Fans to do?

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