Gary Vaynerchuk, founder of the WineLibrary.com, once directed his marketing department to stalk a customer's Twitter account. They analyzed the man's tweets, many of which were focused on the Chicago Bears and the team's quarterback. ("Jay Cutler, I love you." "I still love you, Jay Cutler.") To thank the man for his first WineLibrary.com order, Vaynerchuk sent him a Bears jersey signed by Cutler. Months later, the customer wrote to Vaynerchuk, thanking him and asking how Vaynerchuk knew to send the jersey.
Vaynerchuk likes to tell this story when he's expounding on the benefits of one-on-one customer engagement, using social media as a jumping-off point. "I don't know how you can justify leaving any engagement behind in the social Web of 2011," Vaynerchuk told entrepreneurs at the Inc. 500|5000 Conference in Washington, D.C.
While this sort of strategy doesn't mean every customer needs a personalized gift, it should entail daily interaction with customers through social media and e-mail, Vaynerchuk says. After hiring Vaynerhuk as a consultant, Lipton took this advice, and during the NBA All-Star Game, its employees answered every tweet sent to Lipton's @Brisk Twitter account. People began sending tweets that asked @Brisk what it thought of individual plays, almost like a father in the living room with his sons, Vaynerchuk says.
"The reason I was able to grow my business was that every day, after producing 30 minutes of wine television," he says, "I spent 15 hours a day replying to every single person's e-mail and every single person's Twitter @ reply." Your followers are your customers, he says. "These are the people who put cash in your wallet, and we are leaving these engagements on the table. It blows my mind."
Vaynerchuk says he's answered, "What white wine goes with fish?" something like 68,000 times. "It sucks..." he says. "But I did it."