humanizing social businessWhen was the last time a big national brand made you feel special via the social waves? Are we starting to lose the hope we once had in social media of humanizing brands? The hope of the brand coming out from behind the logo and showing they care and want to connect with real people? The possibility of them actually demonstrating their brand promise via social media versus just plaster the words on their Facebook page?

Are some brands falling prey to traditional mass marketing methods that are simply masked with a coat of new red paint and marked with a K+ and called social media? Are some fooling themselves into thinking they are engaging by leveraging only automated tweets, retweets, and direct messages?

Yes, I do believe some brands are falling pray to the shiny new coat of paint. However, there are few shiny gems that still stand out. You know the ones. The ones that a tweet from them makes you smile. They tweet, respond and engage like real human beings. You almost forget for a moment that you are talking and conversing with a logo.

The purpose of this post is to share a case study of a fun brand experience I had with Walgreens. They did many things right in my book and I can’t help but let others learn from their success. I encourage you to check them out, follow them and learn from them. You can connect with them on Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare and their website which is filled with tips for health and even holiday photo sharing!

Walgreens Social Business Case Study:

The Scenario:
Timing: Day before Thanksgiving, 6:00 pm (ish)
Location: Walgreens store and Twitter
What happened? Walgreens engaged and inspired like a humanized brand.
Result: They made my day and won over a fan for life! It inspired me enough that I am now evangelizing on their behalf and sharing with you! Chances are a percentage of those who read this will also tell someone else.
How they did it: Social listening, integrated marketing, engagement and more.

The story…

A few weeks ago I paid an early evening visit to our local Walgreens store. Our family has spent more time there this early winter season than we would like to given it’s flu season and a few other medical happenings.

My 11 year old son was with me. He had big plans of selling mom on a nice gift set from Axe. He had received a small bottle of hair gel as a Klout perk via his mom (me.) He had seen the gift set several times while visiting Walgreens the prior two weeks with his dad.

He had his sales tactics all worked out. Immediately after we dropped off the prescription he invited me to come check something out with him. He showed me the great deal on the Axe set and was prepared with a summary and breakdown of savings and the amount of extra ounces of each bottle in the set.

axe walgreens social media case studyHis tactics cracked me up. I was feeling a bit giddy after being sick, shacked up in the house and headed into a Holiday weekend. I took a photo of the Axe set, uploaded the pic and sent a tweet via TwitPic and copied both Walgreens and Axe informing them I was being sold to by my son. You can see the photo, tweet and TwitPic photo here:

Before I left Walgreens I received a tweet from them. They giggled with me and asked a few questions. They were interested in what set it was and engaged with me like a real human being would. Over the course of the next few days Walgreens and I twitter twattered back and forth. Given I was not feeling well they really did make my day that afternoon at Walgreens. It was nice to know they were listening and took the time to respond to me and my son as human beings.

After a week or so they sent me a DM and asked for me to send them an email as they had something they wanted to ask me. We traded some DMs and email messages. They asked for my address and stated they wanted to send me something. I had no problem providing them my address as they had earned my trust, my friendship.

Within a week I received Fedex package in the mail from my new friends at Walgreens. I opened it up and what should appear? A nice envelope sized as a personal Holiday card. It was felt more personal than business. It felt like a friend sending me a card.

Within the envelope was the following:

walgreens photo gift card social business case study 1. Walgreens Gift card for $20 to be used at their Photo department.

2. Coupon code WAGCARDS which entitles me and and all of my followers (including you) to receive a 30% discount on 5×7 photo cards at Walgreens thru December 10th.

3. Even better is also the opportunity for me to pass the opportunity along to two of my Twitter friends. I can share the offer with two friends and they will get to pass it on to their friends as well.

4. The card was signed by “The Social Media Team at Walgreens :)”

5. Included was directions on what I should do next. They even included the exact text I should write in my tweet to invite two friends.

It read: Not only are we giving you a gift card and a promo card, but we also want to treat your friends. Tweet to TWO friends of your choice with the following message: 

“I want to give a @Walgreens gift cart to @______ (insert their Twitter uername in the blank)”. 
Wow, I was blown away. What great simple but effective marketing!

walgreens social media case studyWhat they did right:

1. They were doing social listening and proactively responded to my tweet.

2. They engaged and communicated like human beings.

3. They were agile. They are obviously working to be a social business. They were able to respond quickly with an integrated campaign and offer.

4. It was part of an integrated campaign leveraging in store offers and products, online social media and customer service or marketing team engaging with real people.

5. They offered me something of value. They helped me meet a personal goal and even put some good pressure on me to get my holiday cards out this weekend!

6. They told me exactly what to do, what to say in the tweet and what the benefit would be if I did such.

It just so happens that the day prior my husband and I were discussing the need for us to print off some of our digital holiday photos and send to out of state family and friends. Walgreens made that a bit easier and is now helping me achieve a personal goal in providing my friends and family with photos in time for the Holiday!

 Why is this good?

I mentioned above that I had received a Klout perk a few months back from Axe. However, Axe did nothing to engage with me or help me engage with them. Although I assumed their Twitter handle was @Axe, a card from the Klout perks program or Axe confirming such would have helped me consider tweeting or sharing my experience.

I was never inspired by the sample bottle of Axe in the mail to take a picture, to send a tweet. Why you ask? Because I felt like a number. I knew they had simply sent me the perk as they identified me as influencer via my Klout score. There was nothing really human about it. It was the red paint scenario.

Walgreens on the other hand took the time to engage with me like a real person. Yes, they may have similar objectives as Axe. They may want me to tweet, write this blog post and share my joy with you.

The big difference is with Walgreens I was inspired to do such! They inspired me to tweet about it, record a video of the story and write this post all in less than 24 hours of receiving the package in the mail.

What are you doing to inspire your audiences to connect with you? My belief is we must inspire our audiences to connect with us with a goal of helping them achieve life and/or business objectives. By helping our clients, partners and community satisfy their goals and objectives, as a default we achieve ours. Inspire – Connect – Achieve.

Thank you Walgreens for making my day. Thank you for taking the time to acknowledge I am more than a number, more than an address. Thanks for taking a path with more ruts and tredging the way to be a humanized social business and as a result  inspiring other businesses to do the same.

Looks like Walgreens is going to join us soon as a guest on the #GetRealChat I host every Tuesday night 9pm et. They will share more of their social business strategies we can all learn from.

Don’t do social, be social!

Video: Walgreens Case Study – Humanizing Social Business 

Your Turn

What are your thoughts? What brands do you know that are making real efforts and seeing success at becoming a social business. Is becoming a social business a goal for you in 2012? How do you plan to do such?


 35 Social Media Truths

This post is part of a series on social business I am working on “35 Social Media Truths” inspired by keynote presentation I gave at Rochester Institute of  Technology. If you want to hear more, sign up for the 35 Social Media Truths Newsletter and you will receive all 35 of them over a period of time. Included will be different mediums such as video, blog posts and more.

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