Being part of the marketing community, I hear both sides of the story/argument about social media and branding. My personal feeling is that if the company uses it correctly, they can boost their brand ambassadors and stay connected to their hardcore fans. Done incorrectly, it is another way to fail and fail FAST.
This is an example of how a company is doing it right and has won an ambassador.
I have run in Newtons for about two years. The shoe is designed for the way I naturally run with a mid-foot strike. For more information on the science behind the shoe watch this video. I first purchased the Newton Gravitas online. They did not carry them at my favorite independent running retailer – Charm City Running (at the time.) The shoes cost more than your average running shoe so my first encounter with @SirIsaac on Twitter was to see if maybe I could get free shipping, after all I was making an $185 investment in a shoe I had never even tried on. I got a quick response, “No.” Hmm, I didn’t really like that there was no budge, but I thought if they won’t budge for me they probably don’t budge for others. I got out my card and ordered the fire red Newton Gravitas.
It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with them. Weighing in at 10.3 oz, they feel light and fast right out of the box. I wore them Spring and Summer 2009 during training and races, the longer I wore them the more I loved them. When it was time to retire them and buy a new shoe, I admit I couldn’t get over the price. I could buy two pairs of Brooks or Nikes for the price of one pair of Newtons. I tried several different shoes trying to find the cheaper alternative to the Newtons. Some shoes worked out fine, but when I bought a pair of the Brooks Defyance 3s, after being fine in the Defyance 2s, well I hated the 3s so much one morning I did something I had never done before. I reached into the back of my closet and pulled out the Newtons. I figured I going for a short run anyhow. Wow! Even a pair of beaten up Gravitas were better then the clunky Defyance 3s.
At this point Charm City Running was now carrying the Newtons. I stopped in and tried on the Sir Isaacs. They felt great and I went on a ten mile run and was back in love with Newton. The Sir Isaacs have a great ride and feel very efficient. I like to switch out shoes so every other run I was wearing the Nike Lunar Elites. This was a pretty good combo of shoes for me. It seems to keep my legs fresh and stretch out the wear and tear on the shoes.
The Newtons have lugs on the tread that help focus your foot strike. Because of the lugs protrude they start to wear. This is a good thing, they become less noticeable and also act as an indicator of where and how your foot is striking. The Sir Isaacs however, started showing unusual wear along the lateral edge. I only had about 70 miles on the shoes (I track my running shoe miles on dailymile.)
I tweeted to both @CharmCityRunning and @SirIsaac that there was some unusual wear on the shoe. Right away @SirIssac got back to me and asked me to shoot a picture of the wear on the shoe and email it to Newton’s customer service rep Tory Oakland. I took pictures of the wear and emailed Tory giving her the relevant details. Tory asked if she could see some pics of the wear on my old Gravitas. I gave her pictures of the tread and included some of the Nike Lunar Elites too. The way my foot strikes and the way the Newton Gravitas wore appeared to be a better fit for me than the Sir Isaacs. After a short round of courteous emails Tory told me that she would figure out a solution and get back to me. She ended up giving me two options: 1. Keep the Newton Sir Isaacs and get a really good discount on a pair of Gravitas, or 2. Exchange the Sir Isaacs for a new pair of Gravitas. Since the damage to the Sir Isaacs was starting to get into the structural part of the shoe, I opted for the second offer and exchanged the shoes.
Tory and I started talking about the Newton trail shoe scheduled to be launched around August 2010. I was interested in seeing if they might come out earlier so I could use them for the TransRockies in August. Tory ended up putting me in contact with the Newton wear tester program. Fingers crossed, I filled out my application. Who knows I may be putting 113 miles across the Rockies this Summer in Newtons!
Yesterday, the new pair of Newton Gravitas arrived with a return UPS label for the Sir Isaacs! I strapped on the Newtons this morning and went for a four mile run before hopping on my bike to commute to work. I always log my runs on dailymile, today I dedicated my run to Tory.
Newton makes a great shoe, and they put thought into the way they handled a small issue. I am very vocal about my likes and dislikes when it comes to gear. Newton took a potential brand disconnect concerning product quality and solved the issue. This will not be my last pair of Newtons, and I will be spreading the word about a great minimal shoe that promotes a healthier way to run. Everyone I came in contact with at Newton helped solve the problem.
-Believe in the Run