By Stephanie Faris - March 31st, 2015

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3 examples of how brands are running their ideas by their audience first to find out whether they'll be a hit or a flop.

Your users are your most valuable asset. Not only do they breathe life into your brand online, but they can be your first point of contact to try out new ideas. 

For example, Fox Cycling realizes that today’s customers spend a large amount of time on social media. To stay in touch with customers, the company maintains an active presence on Twitter, Facebook, and its own blog. When Fox Cycling came up with the idea to have its most loyal customers help out newer cyclists, they took the idea to their loyal social media followers, whom they’ve affectionately nicknamed “the Foxy Posse.”

“Not only we do use social media to ask customers about particular things we'd like to do, we also are very accessible and actively encourage customers and instructors to tell us what they think,” says Angela Reed-Fox, marketing director for Fox Cycling. “We gather feedback in a number of ways—a feedback email after their class, Facebook, Twitter, the blog, and also they can call the Fox Phone or text us, as well as having email address to the directors.” Constant connectivity goes a long way towards building a sense of ownership, even family, among customers online and off. 

Create a Community

By getting input from customers, Fox Cycling has created a community. Brands like Apple have clearly demonstrated that customers like to feel as though they are a part of something. When customers are allowed to communicate online to share tips, offer feedback, and get answers to questions, their brand loyalty increases significantly. Brands can foster this community by regularly participating in their own social networks and implementing customer suggestions.

Gather Volunteers

Once a community has been built, brands of all sizes have a built-in audience for feedback. One way brands are using this is by testing video response on YouTube. Before launching its well-known “Ship my pants” ad campaign, Kmart first tested the waters on YouTube, winning more than 13,000 mentions and 17 million YouTube views over the course of the campaign. Social media has proven a valuable channel for directly interacting with customers to get the information a brand needs to proceed.

Implement and Get Feedback

In the days, weeks, and months following a product release, a business should closely monitor its social networks for feedback. Customers can often be quite vocal about what it thinks about a brand online. Realizing the danger this poses, companies like Southwest Airlines are now putting people they call “first responders” in place to respond to complaints on social media. By interacting with these customers directly and taking their feedback seriously, you have a chance to build a relationship you wouldn’t have otherwise.

Brands are increasingly realizing the value of social media in communicating with consumers. When used to its fullest, a business’s social networking sites can be a valuable tool to not only demonstrate your commitment to high-quality customer service, but gain important user feedback on your products.

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