A little more than a month from now, excited consumers will be lining up around a moonlit block for the chance to buy the next version of the iPhone. The people in these lines have been called fanboys, followers, and the yearly ritual itself has been compared to religious conviction.

While Apple has maintained its fandom since the early beginnings of the company, too many make the mistake of seeing it as an “Apple thing” rather than a stroke of marketing genius before its time. Early on, companies like Apple have fundamentally connected with their consumer base in a personal way, and the process has continued successfully in the age of social media. For businesses that have yet to find their sweet spot online, consider these essential tips in finding a strategy that works for your business.

Create a Cycle

Marketing in the 21st Century is less about dangling a carrot in front of a consumer’s nose and based more on building relationships. Discover who’s who in the world your business is a part of and connect with the voices that hold the most influence. From YouTube celebrities to online magazine contributors, use social media to connect and demonstrate the importance of your product.

Customers that then seek out your brand on these recommendations should be contacted for feedback whether it’s a rant or rave. The sale should be the climax of the relationship rather than the traditional end as customers become fans that drive more traffic to the brand in turn. Realistically no business will be able to connect with every customer, but companies can still make a significant online presence by creating quick responses for positive feedback, resolving issues for complaints, and hosting sessions such as live tweets for consumers to communicate directly with the company on a human level. These basic tactics help to create a more dynamic presence online while starting the process of building a positive culture around the products.

Focus on Relative Results

When I interned for a small magazine in college, the editor would look at the Facebook page’s analytics as though they were horoscope readings. Simply celebrating spikes in interest doesn’t help identify the factors that lead to more views. Track analytics alongside changes in strategy in order to identify what benefits the brand versus what failed. All social media results are a product of an indirect action by your marketing team. In most cases, fixing low results in one area such as awareness means looking at customer satisfaction to see if loyal customers are talking about the brand to drive new business. When marketing becomes a cycle, remember that what goes around, comes around.

Take Innovation with a Grain of Salt

Companies are rightly concerned with staying ahead of the curve when it comes to new trends, but focusing too much on the future can have a devastating effect on the here and now. Keep goals firmly planted in what is capable of being done in the short term while having a dedicated few experiment with new ideas on the side. Great innovation doesn’t spring out of a void but comes from the grit of trial and error.

Information overload is such a common feeling in today’s marketing that plenty of us forget to stop and smell the roses. A complex world doesn’t have to be met with a complex strategy that only helps to create even more chaos in an unpredictable market of rollercoaster-like trends. Above all else, keep ideas tightly held to a core principle and the details will fall into place.


Russel Cooke is an adviser and journalist currently based in Los Angeles, CA., although he calls Louisville, KY. his home.  His work often discusses content creation, technology, and the power of social media in business. You can follow him on Twitter @RusselCooke2.