I’ve got to admit up front, when it comes to certain things, I am a gullible guy. This really shines when taking into account Twitter and Facebook. There is part of me that says, “That really is the cigar manufacturer I know, not some paid employee acting the part”

The more time I spend on Facebook and Twitter, the more I am coming to see that social media is in such an uphill swing, companies will pay someone to play the part just to get in on it. Unfortunately, I think the companies that do this are missing out on what makes other companies so successful.

A prime example of a successful social media account in the cigar business is CAO Cigars. If you were to log into Twitter and start talking to @caocigars, you would be talking to someone important at CAO International. Now, you won’t be talking to Tim Ozgener, President of CAO, but you will be talking to Jon Huber, Director of Lifestyle Marketing.

The same can be said when referencing @PadillaCigars, @TatuajeCigars, @EPCarrillo, among others. In those cases, you are speaking directly with Ernesto Padilla, Pete Johnson, and Ernesto Carrillo Jr. (The son of the person you know from La Gloria Cubana).

What Makes These Companies so Special:

Well, the major difference is that there is a person at the helm that cares enough to do it themselves. Not only that, but when you talk to companies like these, you are talking to someone who makes a difference.

Think of it this way, you have an obscure question about your cigar. In this case, lets just say that cigar is an Illusione Epernay. So you Tweet @Vudu9 (Dion Giolito) your obscure question. Chances are great that you will get a response in a timely manner. If the account was actually operated by a paid employee, what are the odds that they have the answer you are looking for and do not need to pass it along to someone in-the-know?

What Makes These Accounts Successful:

In my eyes, what makes these companies successful is the level of interaction you get from them. It isn’t a matter of “Thank you @waltw, please hold while I pass along your question to someone capable of answering it.”. That delay, even if it is just a few hours, is enough to kill your account. Heaven forbid it if the answer to your question prompts you to ask a follow up question.

The Bottom Line:

The bottom line is simple. We are not on Twitter and Facebook to be brow beaten into smoking your cigars or get updates on your sales events. To be successful in social media, at least in the cigar world, you need to be accessible to your consumers and not simply pay someone to play the part of someone in-the-know.

What you may not understand is that people like myself don’t just find the whole process annoying; it is a blatant insult towards our social media character. We do not follow manufacturer accounts to listen to your employee spew gushing praise all over your product. We follow them for interaction and an inside look at the brand that no one but a figurehead of the company could provide.

The funny thing is, because of all of the interaction with those passionate enough to cover their own accounts, I find myself smoking their product more often. I do so because it can be fun to talk shop directly with the person responsible for producing the cigar. By this shop-talk, you get to learn little tid-bits that you wouldn’t otherwise find out.

Thank You For Connecting With Your Consumers:

@caocigars: John Huber, Director of Lifestyle Marketing – CAO International
@Vudu9: Dion Giolito, Illusione Cigars
@TatuajeCigars, Pete Johnson, Tatuaje Cigars
@PadillaCigars, Ernesto Padilla, Padilla Cigars
@EPCarrillo, Ernesto Carrillo, EPC Cigar Co.
@DylanAustin, Dylan Austin, Camacho Cigars Marketing Director
@JamesonCigars, Brad Mayo, President Jameson Cigar Co.
@OlivaIan, Ian Hummel, Sales Rep for Oliva Cigars
@OlivaJosh, Josh Rushlo, Sales Rep for Oliva Cigars

I’m sure I’ve forgotten several in my hasty write-up, but the people listed above are those that I converse with on a semi-regular basis. There are also several manufacturers on Facebook, but I don’t converse with them nearly as much.