The Tables Turn: When Brands Become Promoters


Once upon a time, it was as simple as this:

A business promoted their product to consumers (or had a second party do the promoting for them). Then, the consumer continued to spread the word to his or her connections using word of mouth.

Now, with social media constantly evolving, it’s a bit more complicated – but in a good way!


Businesses are still promoting their products to consumers and consumers are still spreading the word to their connections. But the consumer is also often looking for something in return. And oftentimes, that’s as simple as a little promotion from the brand.

As a Social Media Specialist at 451 Marketing and a blogger in my free time, I’m in the position of seeing things through the eyes of both the brand and the blogger fully immersed in social media who’s looking to bring more readers to my blog. However, even non-bloggers on social media are looking for more ways to promote themselves and their “personal brand.”

So, what exactly does this mean for brands? Well, it means they can’t simply sit back and promote their product to the public, expecting to surpass all the competition. It means reciprocation is in order. In terms of Twitter, this can be as simple as a tweet promoting a blog post that features one of your products or a Follow Friday (#FF) to anyone on Twitter you find inspirational.

If you’re a brand, you may still be thinking “Is it really worth our time to promote the small percentage of our customers on social media?” Well, yes, it is. It’s human nature to want to create connections and, thus, to want to promote those whom we are forming bonds with over those we aren’t. Plus, we’re always more likely to give something to someone who’s giving something to us in return.

For instance, when I know a brand will actively promote my food blog to their followers, I’m much more likely to feel a sense of brand loyalty and to use their products when given the choice between theirs and an equally rated one. And when I use their products and blog about them, I’m giving them free advertising. Advertising that won’t be torn up and thrown in the trash like many magazines and newspapers. I’m giving them advertising that will stick around forever and that will likely get hundreds of thousands of views over its lifetime. Not to mention, when a brand promotes my blog post, they’re also displaying a form of advertising to their current followers, but one that doesn’t feel obtrusive at all.

When I used Firefly Vodka in a cupcake recipe, Firefly Vodka tweeted about it to their followers.

Not only did I get a lot of page views and followers in return, but Firefly Vodka also showed their own followers a new way to use their product. And the next time I want to create a recipe using sweet tea vodka, I’ll likely buy Firefly since I already have a connection with them (and love their vodka, too! Having a quality product is always most important).

Cabot Creamery takes it a step further and promotes posts from bloggers that have nothing to do with their brand. For instance, when Cabot saw a photo from one of my posts on a food photography website, they tweeted about it, though I didn’t even use their product in the post:

Even companies as large as the Gap are spending time looking at the tweets of their followers and often include consumers in their Follow Fridays:

Each person who the Gap tweeted to in this particular Follow Friday took the time to tweet about the Gap once again to thank them. The means even more promotion for the Gap!

By now, most brands know that social media is about actually being social and responding to consumers in an online space. But these days it’s also about brands learning to be promoters themselves. After all, consumers are quickly learning to become their own brands!