Collaborating with Customers Can Mean Big Business

It’s no secret customers have a louder, bigger, stronger voice than ever before. With social media rants gaining international press and customer hack sites gaining the following of thousands, brands have to be aware of not only who their customers are, but what they REALLY want.

Consider these quick facts:

  • Brand engagement rises by 28% when consumers are exposed to both professional content and user-generated product videos. (Source: comScore)
  • Three out of 4 YouTube users say, “If there is a brand I love, I tell everyone about it.” (Source: Google)
  • 70% of brand engagement on Pinterest is user-generated. (Source: Digitas and Curalate)

Some retailers have tapped into this new era by collaborating very directly with customers. Using mobile technology combined with in-store experience, they are able to tap into the collective genius of customers.

Customers help create powerful marketing content


As one of the first to embrace the idea of customers “pinning” their items on Pinterest, Nordstrom now owns the first page of Google search for the “Top Pinned” term. Not only do they promote the items their customers show off on their Pinterest boards, but they also promote the “Top Pinned” items using special signage in the stores. This relationship with customers helps Nordstrom understand what will most likely be top sellers, leading to better decisions around inventory, marketing and more. Their “Pinspiration” section on their web site changes weekly to promote the top pinned items.


Blendtec uses Pinterest to show their 18,000+ followers what their customers do with their Blendtec Blenders. Several of their Pinterest boards highlight food bloggers and regular customers’ recipes and ideas.

Wendy’s has released a series of love songs created from the comments of their fans and followers. Their clever use of social word of mouth combined with customer collaboration has resulted in the creation of some really fun music videos which reached more than 85 million people after the launch of the initial Facebook campaign.

Customer inspiration yields game-changing innovation


Julep is a cosmetics company that started with nail salons and has grown into a booming subscription service. They have a mission to continue to collaborate with customers, using feedback and a group of about 5,000 customers called the “Idea Lab” to bring products to life.


Victoria’s Secret Pink line uses both offline and online ways to connect with their biggest fans. In return for participating as one of almost 8 million members of “PINK Nation” and downloading apps, these top customers are invited to participate in “design challenges” to help “inspire” the brand. Offline, “campus reps” host parties and events to introduce more customers to the brand.

Brands all over are realizing the power of connecting with customers through many channels. What is your brand doing to keep up with your biggest fans?

Jeannie Walters is CEO at 360Connext.

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