Social media continues to gain steam in the business world, and companies are often perceived as out of touch if their social pages are not kept up-to-date. While most businesses will maintain some sort of ongoing content for their social channels in order to avoid this perception, not all companies handle the social sites with as much strategy and grace as they should. In order to make social media efforts worthwhile, it’s important to look beyond its obvious uses and work to tap into the additional opportunities it offers for connecting with your customer base. Here’s a peek into how five well-respected brands have taken Twitter further for optimal impact.

DiGiorno Pizza

Sometimes an apology is just as influential as being right from the get-go. When the digital conversation around Ray Rice and domestic violence was at its peak, there was a trending hashtag on Twitter that was meant to invite people to share personal stories of abuse. DiGiorno didn’t do its due diligence in researching what the hashtag meant, and tweeted, “#WhyIStayed you had pizza.” There was immediate fury and the backlash came in the form of Twitter users condemning the company for being callous and taking a serious issue lightly. Instead of getting defensive, DiGiornio took to Twitter to correct its mistake. By accepting responsibility, offering an explanation (not an excuse), and apologizing individually to enraged Twitter members, DiGiorno proved to be a great example and turned a potentially disastrous PR situation into a deeper connection with its following.


Simply tweeting about a show may be a way to spread awareness, but the impact of the effort usually stops right there. NBC decided to use Twitter by inviting viewers of its hit show “The Voice” to engage further by casting votes for their favorite contestants through the social media platform. There were nearly 110,000 tweets per minute during the first segment in November of last year, and the volume of tweets that week was up 517 percent from the previous week. The lesson here is that consumers want to feel like they’re a part of what your brand is doing.


While a big idea or flashy campaign can garner a lot of social media attention, it can be the subtle details that get even more impressive results. Nike didn’t do anything particularly extraordinary using Twitter, but its social media efforts deserve to be acknowledged because the company strives to get personal with customers. Its voice on the social media account makes tweets sound like they are coming from a real person. And when a Twitter conversation isn’t enough to adequately help someone with a complaint or question, Nike gives ways to take the situation offline to solve the problem. This shows that being real, and really trying to help, is sometimes all a customer wants.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines is often lauded for its marketing concepts and customer service, but it also is a great example of a company that understands how to use social media. The travel giant perpetuates its reputation as the friendliest airline on Twitter by using colloquialisms and a casual, playful tone. When you read its tweets, you feel like you’re reading a friend’s tweets. Southwest also does a good job of tying topical events into its social media posts, and being hip to pop culture. The airline stays relevant with the younger generations by referencing trendy news items, and being cheeky while still maintaining its warmth. Who wouldn’t want that from a friend — or an airline?


Target is a powerful retailer with broad appeal that is repeatedly very effective in its marketing. But when Target faced a problem with a major security breach last year, the company didn’t roll over and let itself get trampled by bad press. It also didn’t simply apologize and try to move on past the ordeal. Target took things a few steps further, and offered top-notch identity theft protection from Lifelock to all of its customers, as a measure of its concern for their security and regret over the incident. By thinking through what could be done to tangibly improve the quality of life for customers, offering Lifelock was a grand gesture of care. It pays to go the extra mile for your buyers, especially when a mistake has been made.

Social media sites like Twitter provide plentiful ways to connect with customers, but it’s up to you to figure out the most strategic and rewarding approach for your business. Did you make an error with your customers that needs to be fixed? Look to DiGiorno and Target for effective ways to handle it. Do your customers crave a way to be more deeply engaged with what you’re doing? Consider opening up a way for them to participate via Twitter, like NBC’s voting for “The Voice.” Do your customers simply want to feel like they’re talking to a relevant, real human? Change up the tone of your content, and get a little more raw and personalized like Southwest. There’s a lot to be learned from these five brands that are getting social media right, so take notes. Your customers will thank you.