Brands breeding loyalty through digital

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As the dominant face of the fast food industry, McDonald's is an easy target for criticism. Yet, McDonald's remains one of the most popular brands in the world, with customers lined up daily to satiate their craving for "two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese..." But it takes more than a consistent product and catchy jingle to maintain loyalty amidst public criticism in a connected world -- a notion McDonald's continually proves with social media.

Among McDonald's faithful, the McRib is legendary. Making rare appearances only to fall off the radar shortly thereafter, the McRib's scarcity makes it a treasure to be discovered. Accordingly, McDonald's launched "The Quest for the Golden McRib" Facebook app. The quest allows fans to hunt for 10 virtual "Golden McRibs" and awards customers with badges for their profile pages, while encouraging them to share their adventures on Twitter using the hashtag #McRib. Durable brand loyalty is born from product passion and conversation. As the company states, "Our head of social media is the customer."

Brands breeding loyalty through digital

To establish strong connections with humans, a brand must show its humanity. Thanks to a relatable Twitter feed, McDonald's maintains a natural relationship with its more than 450,000 followers. Rather than a constant barrage of product promotions, the company posts positive Twitter updates similar to that of a typical user:

Brands breeding loyalty through digital

Not only do McDonald's Twitter representatives post positive remarks, but they also take time to respond to individual comments or questions, even rewarding followers with free products:

Brands breeding loyalty through digital

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McDonald's clearly understands that it's not about the number of followers, but about strong connections created through various platforms of engagement, providing every customer with an opportunity to interact.


The combination of music and marketing is nothing new, but offering deeply engaging and rewarding experiences for consumers through music is still a challenge. In the 1970s, The Coca-Cola Company hoped to "teach the world to sing." Today, the beverage giant continues to strengthen its connection to music through unique partnerships and interactive programs.

In 2011, aiming to connect with teens across the globe, Coca-Cola launched a music marketing program that enabled Maroon 5 to create a new track in one day. The "24 hour session" was streamed live on Coca-Cola Music and prompted fans to interact with the band -- posting tweets, messages, and votes that were broadcasted within the studio. In addition, audience members directly contributed to the song itself, as their recorded hand claps were featured in the track.

Not only did the "session" provide a peek into professional music production, but it also gave fans a glimpse into Maroon 5's down time (filled with yoga and ping pong), which is relatable content that helps establish a deeper connection among consumers. As Coca-Cola's project lead and global brand PR representative, Judith Snyder, explains, "This is an experiment to connect with teens in a new, fresh, engaging conversation. We are always collaborating, and Coca-Cola Music allows us to leverage our scale and share stories." It is in the reciprocal exchange of content that demonstrates a brand's awareness of fan value to consumers.

For Coca-Cola, loyalty comes from connecting with consumers by creating unique content and experiences. By not only offering fans free music, but also by providing an outlet for customers to take part in music creation, Coca-Cola proves, once again, why it holds nearly unanimous acceptance across the globe.       



Denyse Drummond-Dunn
Denyse Drummond-Dunn August 20, 2012 at 3:08 PM

Thanks Kyle for all the time it must have done to collect such an inspiring collection of examples.
Following on from Brant's comment about being more than "digital minded" I agree, but for slightly different reasons.
What all these brands have understood is that digital is so much more emotional than other media. It is intimate and direct, which in my books anyway is the best way to get a message into the heart of a customer.
All these brands also seem to have a passion for customer centricity that comes through what they do, how they do it and the words and sentiments they use in their connections.
Be warned I will steal with pride a few of your great examples - but will of course give you the credit!

Brant Emery
Brant Emery August 20, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Looking through these cases, which are great examples of brand based CRM initiatives - I'd say it's much more than being ''digital minded''. At the heart of most of these are strong value-add services. It's like saying "shops build sales through bricks". Digital is merely a facilitator, a building material, for developing compelling, customer driven, elements. Digital media does enable faster, more iterative, development of customer value-adds, but don't forget the basics too. Also, would be nice to see actual results - but I know details like that are rarely made available.