Sifting through the fan mail

The overwhelming popularity and immediacy of social media has changed the way people expect to interact with the brands, products and organizations they love.

Today, more than ever, it’s about a two-way communication stream. Whether it’s a product you’re interested in buying, your favorite band or a prospective employer, we have come to expect and demand instant feedback.

Recently, I purchased a pair of glasses from Warby Parker, a charitable organization with a vision for the future.

I can’t begin to explain how impressed I am with their ability and willingness to communicate with their customers. Literally every single time I mentioned them in a tweet I got a response in short order. They helped me through the ordering process and made it very clear that I was a valuable customer.

Because of their superior customer interaction, it was no longer a question of “if” I was going to buy, but “when” I was going to buy.

I also had a good experience with another startup, Zaarly.

They were looking for people who have actively used the service, especially those who have posted odd or unique listings. After just a few emails with Zach from Zaarly HR, we were chatting on the phone about my experience and how I learned about them.

As a token of their appreciation I got a “swag bag” in the mail two days later containing things from balloons to a t-shirt, all embroidered with the Zaarly logo.

Experiences like this are what make customers want to recommend products and services to everyone they know.

Unfortunately, for really large companies, musicians, products, ect., it can be difficult or impossible to keep up with the bag of fan mail. In situations like this, all you can do is cut your losses. Most fans or customers understand the magnitude of the crowd you deal with and won’t be offended if you don’t reply to their facebook post on your wall.

I’m a huge fan of Coldplay, but I would never, not in a million years expect them to tweet back at me saying, “thanks for being such a devoted fan.” I love them regardless and I will never stop being a fan just because I don’t get the same interaction with them as I do with other brands.

The lesson to be learned is that no matter how large or small your business or brand is, you need to make an effort to respond to fan input, questions and praise.

Nowadays it’s all about two-way communication, and avoiding interaction with your audience is public relations suicide due to the fast-paced, interactive and social world that we live in.