Check out Adweek’s recent “Brand of the Day” – Cinnabon! I listened to Kat Cole, their chief operating officer, speak at the Legal Marketing Association’s (LMA) Annual Conference last April, initially wondering what a young woman who markets cinnamon rolls (come chicken wings) would have to offer a room full of legal marketers accustomed to supporting the “sale” of $500+ per hour professional services. Within minutes, all skepticism about the “fit” with this audience was gone, and I was actively engaged (and, no, it had nothing to do with the Cinnabon vodka samples on the table).
A key message from that presentation was “know your audience” – something Kat had clearly taken the time to do with the LMA crowd prior to walking on stage and something her brand does consistently in its marketing (and in its employee/franchisee relations). Much of the value of social media for professional services marketers and communicators is the insight it provides into human behavior, current events and issues. Listening to your target audiences has never been easier – their thoughts are often in the public domain and even searchable and sortable by hashtags. Similarly, we can see current media trends and interests – both in reporters’ Twitter musings and in the published and shared content created and consumed. Heck, on most social media interfaces you’ve even got a box on the side of the page telling you what’s “trending!”
But my own personal takeaway that day is even more directly tied to the reason Cinnabon has 63,000 tweets and an avid following. Personally, I’m not a terribly active tweeter. I’m episodic at best, and generally tweet when it’s professionally warranted. (See previous lurker listener comments about the nature of my usage.) At the LMA Annual Conference (and most other professional development gigs), I make every effort to share a nugget or two of tweetable wisdom with my colleagues back at the office and friends who couldn’t make it to the event. On the day Kat spoke, I tagged her in a tweet about halfway through her presentation – noting my new-found respect for Cinnabon and Hooters (Kat joined Cinnabon after serving as Vice President of Training and Development for Hooters of America Inc.) two brands with which I’d had only limited interaction until that moment. Within minutes of her standing ovation and while she was still out of breath from her energetic presentation, @KatColeATL replied – and so did Cinnabon:
To this day, I have never stepped into (or eaten) a Cinnabon, but I perceive that I have a “relationship” with the brand thanks to a 10-second interaction with one of their brand ambassadors via Twitter.
Social media is about connecting – plain and simple. The most effective connections involve both listening and interacting.
(In the interest of full disclosure, I did give the Cinnabon vodka a shot.)