With 2011 rapidly coming to a close, the year-end wrap-ups and 2012 forecasts are starting to roll in. In Ad Age, PR pros cited engagement as the key goal for 2012, as brands – and their agencies — shift focus from acquiring fans to more actively engaging with those consumers. In our experience, one of the most powerful ‘recruiting’ tools is a vibrant, active community of brand advocates. So, I’m always intrigued by how brands step up to build those important relationships.

Take EpicMix, a 2011 WOMMY winner in the Mobile category. Recognized for its creative use of RFID, Vail Resorts uses EpicMix to make it easy to capture customers’ experiences on the mountain and for customers to share the moment with their social networks. Presented as a perk for holders of a season pass or special day lift ticket, EpicMix also lets skiers build their reputation among a community of avid downhill fans with a pretty slick gamification system.

In his Social Media Marketing Blog, Scott Monty shared an infographic featuring five companies that are ‘rocking social media’ on the engagement front.


That innovation spans all three community pillars –advocacy, feedback and support.

  • Lots of companies use listening; Dell and Morton’s demonstrate how to convert that energy to meaningful action. Through its Command Center, Dell monitors thousands of posts to engage with both those customers with service issues and their most avid fans. And Morton’s added real meaning to the term ‘surprise and delight’ with their over-the-top service response. (I love that someone picked up the Shankman Tweet and proceeded to think, ‘why not?’)


  • KLM took a unique approach to roll-out social media-based, 24/7 customer support and continues to use Facebook for ideation and feedback. ABC courted    Pan Am fans with 60’s era music on Pandora and cool merchandise offers via Twitter, among other social tactics. Unisys tapped into the power of its internal advocates, creating a knowledge-sharing resource utilized by 15,000 of its 23,000 employees.


Our own State of Online Branded Communities highlights engaging approaches by four top scoring brands in this year’s study:

  • Bravo takes a ritualized approach to community that spurs return visits;
  • The introduction of the Verizon Insiders engages their most passionate advocates;
  • Personalization is central to creating a fun & captivating experience across EA communities; and,
  • General Mills brings their product line home with My Get Together.


Looking back at 2011, what are your engagement stand-outs?

Cheryl Treleaven

Cheryl Treleaven


Engaging your customers is at the heart of successful marketing programs. For more than 20 years, Cheryl has been building and executing content and thought leadership strategies designed to do just that. She is excited to be applying that well-honed skill to a help companies like Microsoft, Cisco, 3M, Intel, Capital One and Barclaycard tap into their stakeholder communities and build sophisticated content strategies.

Her experience base spans a range of industries – from technology and financial services to retail, travel, consumer products and healthcare. Cheryl has served as an integral member of her clients’ marketing teams, providing counsel on marketing and brand strategy, thought leadership, media relations, product introductions, and event management.

Prior to joining ComBlu, Cheryl spent 10 years leading corporate marketing for large, complex organizations.