Social Interaction (Not Broadcasting) Builds Customer Reputation

Insect Lore vs Timberland Case Study

Insect Lore

For Christmas Santa brought something that my daughter really dreamed of having one day — a butterfly pavilion from Insect Lore. It was Winter, and naturally ordering the butterflies themselves had to wait until Spring. When Spring came, and warm weather settled, we filled out the certificate for our cocoons, and mailed it to them with an S&H check.

Over a month went by, and we started worrying… On the 37th day, having found out that Insect Lore actively uses Twitter, I decided to tweet for help:

Original tweet to Insect Lore

They haven’t replied, and I reminded them of the open question 3 days later:

Reminder tweet to Insect Lore

To this date the question remains unanswered (while Insect Lore keeps tweeting the news about their products and promos), and having found out that the check was actually cashed over a month ago (see the image below), I will try to get my question answered by phone instead.

Check to Insect Lore

Now let’s look at a very different story, which involved exactly the same variables: (a) a merchant, (b) a puzzled customer, and (c) a Social Media channel (Twitter).


On April 24 we shopped at Timberland (a physical  store at a local mall). When the shopping assistant handed me my receipt, he emphasized that if I take their customer satisfaction survey online, I will receive a 20% off coupon which I will be able to use on my next purchase.

I did, but to my surprise, upon spending some 7-8 minutes on the survey, I wasn’t redirected to any coupon page.

Timberland is also very active on Twitter. So I tweeted my question to them, and regardless of the fact that it was Sunday, I received a pretty swift reply assuring me that it will be looked into:

Tweet to Timberland and response

Sure enough, the very next morning, they’ve followed up on the issue:

Timberland Customer Service uses Twitter

Within the few next hours they also fixed the broken link on their website (so that others could also get their coupons), and emailed me the promised 20% off coupon. They also apologized for several times for the “inconvenience caused”.

Yes, I was inconvenienced at first, but the attention I received, and the way in which everything was handled/resolved fully remedied the situation, building up Timberland’s customer reputation, ensuring a future purchase too.


To summarize:

  • Both companies use Social Media
  • Both share their coupons and promos, contests and sales through Social Media
  • One does just that (broadcasts), whereas the other one listens and responds to (interacts with) its consumers

This is not the first time I see this happening. Some brands seem to be stuck in the broadcasting mode, whereas others realize the importation of interaction, and use it to their advantage and growth. The choice is yours, but if you really care about your brand, forget about broadcasting and start interacting.

3 thoughts on “Social Interaction (Not Broadcasting) Builds Customer Reputation”

  1. Geno,
    I was just reading Social Media 101 where Chris Brogan mentions the types of Twitter users – the bullhorn and the walkie-talkie user, and it’s up to the user to define his own technique.

    While I agree interaction is the best method, I’ve seen some seemingly great results with the obvious self promoting broadcasters on Twitter. But one problem with the broadcasting method is that while it might work well with the sell it doesn’t instill confidence that the business has my best interest at heart – as you have demonstrated.

    I think it’s a long way off before we could define the proper way to use social media as most businesses are reluctant to discuss customer issues in public, so they might rather just opt to use it for broadcasting.

  2. Thank you for this thoughtful comment, Darren. Interesting, and very good similes from Chris Brogan there…

    You’re right on the money when you point out that “most businesses are reluctant to discuss customer issues in public”, but in most cases this is not what is expected of a business. Service/help is what matters most. Timberland in my above example handled the issue itself via DMs (Twitter’s private direct messages), and this worked for me. It would’ve worked for any other customer (unless the consumer’s initial game plan is to turn it into a public fight, of course).

    What I’m trying to emphasize is that ignoring is not an option. Handle it the way most appropriate to your business, but do handle it!

  3. I certainly agree with you Geno.

    If you are going to employ the use of a social media outlet, then you should expect any and all possible repercussions of using such a tool and also be prepared to respond accordingly.

    Twitter ( or any other platform ), is not a blasting tool, but rather yet another way to interact with your clients.

    There is a responsibility in doing so, and if you choose to ignore those who are buying your product or using your service, then you will most likely get the kind of attention that you do not want.

    Ahem! Insect Lore… cough, cough!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *