Once upon a time, after visiting the Humane Society website, I became obsessed with a dog named Radcliff. All I could think about was having this adorable rescued beagle in my house. So, I went to the Humane Society to claim Radcliff. Much to my fantasy life horror, Radcliff had already been claimed and was long gone. “We rarely update our website,” the woman at the front desk told me. Pissed is not even nearly close enough of a word to describe how I felt when she said that. I abstained from yelling at her and asked if she had any other medium-sized dogs I could take a look at. She recommended a huge pitbull named Peanut that needed a lot of training (NO), then an old husky who had been at the shelter for months. I explained I had a husky once, and he howled all day and all night. I said I needed a quieter dog for when I was at work during the day.
“Have you looked at Spencer?” A nurse who overheard me asked. “He’s the cutest Pomeranian.”
I look at that nurse like she had literally gone nuts. Flashbacks to annoying, feisty, stone-cold mean little dogs from my childhood started to play through my mind. “I don’t do small dogs.”
“I think you’d like this one,” she said. “He’s quiet, too.”
The minute I saw Spencer, I was sold. There was something about his shivering, tiny body hiding in the corner of his cage that reminded me of the abusive marriage I had just left. I could relate to the fear, the lack of trust, in his huge, brown eyes that stared at me with everything they had.
Two days later, on Valentine’s Day, I convinced the shelter to release him to me earlier than recommended, and we were inseparable everyday since. We both had tons of healing to do, and it was something we were able to do with each other, slowly gaining back trust and confidence in life.
I left Mr. Spencer with my mom when I moved to NYC, until I found a place that would accept dogs. However, I soon realized there was no way in the world I would have the time he needed from someone with my job and commute.
When I went to Colorado last weekend for my cousin’s birthday, my mom unexpectedly was able to meet me and bring Mr. Spencer, who had been pretty sick the past few days. We had an incredible weekend in the mountains, and he perked up like never before. You never would have guessed he was sick.
Three days after I left, Mr. Spencer fell asleep in his favorite red bed in my mom’s truck and never woke up again. See, Mr. Spencer had a heart four times larger than it was supposed to be, and, believe me, it showed everyday. There were numerous lessons I learned during the amazing time I was able to spend with him, but five stuck out to me in regards to social media:
Building Relationships Takes Time
Mr. Spencer and I did not hit it off right away. He had been severely abused, and would barely let me pet him. On top of that, he has the biggest attitude ever which showed through when he pooped right outside my yoga room multiple times while I was doing yoga, and kept marking his territory, even peeing a perfect circle around an entire table to dinner guests. He even used to pee on the leg of the table that my boyfriend used to leave his jacket and wallet on when he came to visit.
It took tons of nurturing and trust-building for us to see eye-to-eye, and the same goes for social. Brands have to take the time to build trust in consumers, they can’t just go out there and expect consumers to immediately engage with them. Brands have to find ways to earn consumer’s trust whether it’s through giving valuable advice, or respecting the consumer.
You Can’t Change A Consumer’s Identity
I was obsessed with the name Radcliff after falling in love with the taken beagle on the Humane Society’s website, so I tried calling Spencer Radcliff quite a few times. Spencer absolutely refused to answer to it. I guess ten year old dogs really do know their names.
You can’t try to change your consumer and morph them into the consumer your brand needs. Instead, you need to morph your brand’s social into what the consumer needs. Consumer first, right?
Brand Personality Is Critical
Mr. Spencer was incredibly popular on social media, but it wasn’t just because he was a cute Pomeranian. It was more because he had sass and attitude beyond anything or anyone I’ve ever met before. That little dude could throw a look, and people began knowing him for it.
No matter how boring the brand, it still needs a personality that sets it apart on social. Find that one thing that differentiates your brand from competitors and dial it up to create a memorable online personality.
The Non-Influencers On Social Media Are More Important Than You Think
Mr. Spencer was completely unwanted by everyone at the shelter, except this one nurse who saw potential in him. The shelter thanked me over and over again for taking him so they didn’t have to deal with him anymore (seriously?!). Yet, he became the shining light in every life he touched. He truly impacted people, including my grandma’s Alzheimer’s unit that he visited often.
It was once suggested that I not respond to anyone with less than 1500 followers. A few days later, I responded to someone with 250 followers, a celebrity saw it, and it led to a celebrity endorsement for the brand. Followers have little to do with who is truly important for your brand to be engaging with. Stop looking through a popularity filter, and start looking for the people that can actually add value beyond popularity to your brand.
It Matters How You Make People Feel
The outpouring amount of love I’ve received on social media since Mr. Spencer passed is overwhelming. I seriously am in awe of how many people his feisty personality and hilarious stories touched. He didn’t provide them with any out of this world statistics or social media insights, but he did make them feel happy and positive during stressful times in their lives. Now, he is on the top of their minds.
Sometimes consumers need more than statistics from your brand. Sometimes the best value you can give them is the way you make them feel about themselves. Make sure your brand is doing more than just spouting off statistics, but actually is adding value in an intangible way to your consumers’ lives --> That’s how you build loyalty for life.
[tweetthis]"Make sure your brand is doing more than just spouting off statistics, but actually is adding value." @MarjiJSherman[/tweetthis]
It’s amazing how one little six pound dog left in a shelter by a truck driver to rot impacted the lives of thousands. I am still receiving notes about how he positively influenced the lives of others.
Try applying some of these things to your brand, and see how much your community changes for the better. It certainly worked for me, and other brands I’ve worked with.
In the meantime, RIP, Mr. Spencer. You are loved beyond belief, and have no idea how many lives you touched with your enlarged heart. Xoxo.
-Marji J. Sherman