A Brand I Can Relate To: Companies Creating Relationships on Social Media

A Brand I Can Relate ToSocial media is increasingly becoming an expected channel for companies to communicate with customers, users, and other stakeholders. I’d venture to say that it’s now more common for companies to be on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook than off. The goal, logically, is to engage with consumers, whether it’s by providing customer service, creating a brand image, or responding real-time to relevant events. Of course, a lot of companies do it badly, with far fewer doing it well.

Design psychology suggests that successful engagement through social media will support:

  • Relatedness by acknowledging consumer outreach and offering relevant information, and
  • Autonomy by giving consumers a sense of choice and control as to how they interact with brands

Some of the companies that I think do a really good job engaging their audience through social media (Twitter specifically), along with the design principles they use best, include:


I am terrified to ride in or drive a SmartCar, but they earned a place in my heart a few years ago with this labor-intensive, good-natured response to a Twitter joke:



SmartCar’s Twitter account is not usually funny,  but if you are a fan of the cars, you’ll get lots of photos of them and an interesting perspective on how they are engineered. SmartCar does a nice job of relatedness by responding to their individual followers and communicating about topics in a way that connects with their interests.

Oreo Cookie

So, weirdly enough, the folks behind the Oreo Cookie Twitter feed seem to love interacting with other brands, and followers are better off for it. These sorts of cheeky exchanges foster a sense of relatedness by bringing followers into the inner circle.

Another favorite of mine from a few years ago comes from a Twitter exchange between two different companies, Oreo and AMC Movie Theaters:


More recently, Oreo decided that Motorola decided a treat:


Boston Organics

Boston Organics is a local fresh produce delivery service that I have used in the past and really like. In addition to a great product, they also offer excellent customer service via social media. Their quick and proactive Twitter responses help support customers’ feelings of relatedness, while the availability of the channel helps customers’ autonomy by offering choices about how to request help. I particularly love how the people running the Boston Organics account search out mentions and relevant topics and reply:




Boloco is another local Boston company with a strong social media game. They are incredibly responsive on Twitter, and have a sense of humor to boot. Boloco, like Boston Organics, supports both autonomy and competence by being proactive, responsive, and offering users choices of how to interact when they need help or a laugh.

Boloco1Boloco, by the way, is particularly likely to go above and beyond in responding to customer issues via Twitter. I once received a credit in my rewards account after mentioning, without tagging them, that the Boloco employee left the delicious cilantro off my lunch. Excellent customer service.


The final entrant in today’s Twitter Star lineup is JetBlue. As a frequent traveler, I’ve noticed that most major US airlines are now using Twitter as a customer assistance tool. I can say for certain that Delta does (at the @DeltaAssist handle). JetBlue is right in line with the rest of the pack, offering customer service via Twitter with a little more panache than most:

JetBlueIf you’re curious, the Nancy of #GoNancy is a JetBlue employee who provided some Tweet-worthy service.


I liked this second example because the JetBlue social media person offered some genuinely helpful advice in a situation where a non-response would have been acceptable. These sorts of interactions are how JetBlue supports relatedness with its followers.

What companies do you think do social media especially well?