This is a guest post by Lisa Kalner Williams.
Ever read those articles on how a business has successfully used social media to increase brand awareness and drive sales? A typical story explains the goal of the said campaign, shows screenshots of the tweets and posts used in the campaign, and lists the results of these efforts. The articles either end there or conclude with a self-congratulatory remark by a company rep.
These stories – and the campaigns and companies they showcase – are missing an important element: the human element. These are the people who take the time to read the company’s posts, and in spite of information overload and hyper-extended schedules, respond by clicking, “Liking,” or buying a company product.
When Mariah Carey or Katy Perry win a big award, they are quick to thank their fans. But it’s rare to see such fan love on Facebook and Twitter. Why is that? Saying thank you is not only a vital “social” action in social media, but it’s also just plain good marketing.
Now, it’s more than just at award time when companies when should express gratitude – although I’ll speak about that later. Businesses should give thanks in nearly all encounters they have with their online fans.
Offer Online Thanks for Offline Events
Does your business regularly attend industry conferences or trade shows? If you use social media prior to an event in the hopes of increasing traffic to your booth, that’s great. But be sure to show gratitude to those who decided to stop by your booth. Take photos of folks you meet during the show and post them to Facebook – the new timeline now gives you lots of nice real estate for images. Add a personalized caption to acknowledge the conversation you had – like “Thanks to Maria and Tomoko from USC for stopping by on Tuesday. We loved talking to you about our products and that off-campus pizza shop!”
Businesspeople who rely more on in-person events such workshops, book signings, and seminars can easily apply these ideas. Your fans are still carving time to see you and to approach you with a question or a book to sign. Thus, giving due praise is vital.
Continued use of this online-offline connection with fans often results in exponential growth in engagement and loyalty. Another nice perk of being kind!
Give Props for Giving Props
Social media can indeed provide a time- and cost-effective way to conduct market research. Just keep in mind that yes, you’ve put in effort to create your questionnaire. After all, it is your job to do so. On the other hand, fans are under no obligation to take your survey. Even if a prize has enticed fans to take your survey, these individuals still took the time to stop what they were doing, click on your poll, and give you their feedback. So make fans feel like they’ve done you a favor – because they have. Tweet your gratitude and give them a sliver of insight from the survey results. Here’s an example: “Thanks to all those who told us what new social media sites they’re on. Seems like a lot of you are on Pinterest!”
Some businesses work hard to have their fans to get them to win a local newspaper award or an Internet honor like a Shorty Award. Fans allow your gentle reminders and “Vote For Us!” pleas into their news streams, and some even take the step to go on to an external Website and throw their support behind you. Don’t take your fans’ patience and actions for granted. If you didn’t get top honors, be sure to show gratitude to the winner in addition to the people who put in the time to try to land you in the winner’s seat. If you did win, get your Mariah Carey on and thank those fans who supported your business.
A Must for Milestones
Is having a large social fan base a sign of good business or social savvy? Suffice to say, it certainly doesn’t stack up to a high percentage of fan engagement, new leads, or conversions. But it is a metric that is achieved predominately by the actions of your fans. They are the ones who clicked the “Like” or “Follow” button. So thank them.
Danish footwear company ECCO Shoes recently gave this bilingual, heartfelt thanks to its Facebook fans upon reaching the 50,000 mark.
On Twitter, NBA reporter and blogger Alex Kennedy gave the following hashtag love to his 20,000 followers:
And a milestone doesn’t necessarily have to end in a zero. Consider the spontaneity of celebrating at an atypical number (1,556, anyone?). If scheduling messages in advance is more your bag, consider giving thanks for a particular time milestone as ECCO hinted at in its thank you post.
To show deep gratitude, shy away from calls of action in your message. As a fan, there’s nothing worse than getting a hug with a prompt kick in the rear saying, “Now get more friends to ‘Like’ us!” or “Make sure you also follow us on Twitter!” Just show thanks and let your fans embrace it.
Cheer For The Holidays
Holidays are a great time to show thanks. You can always show fan appreciation with a discount or a freebie. But words make for a simple gesture of gratitude – that’s what Elsevier’s Mathematics and Statistics Page did as 2011 came to a close:
Valentine’s Day is a natural choice for most businesses to show love to its Facebook fans or Twitter followers.
Industry-specific days of celebration are also great ways to acknowledge your online community. Does caffeine fuel your business or community? Then be sure to give fans love on U.S. National Coffee Day (September 29).
After a while, uttering the two words “Thank You” at every milestone and holiday and after every event and contest will feel unnecessarily robotic. It’s at this point, if not sooner, to get creative to make sure your signs of gratitude are unique and from the virtual heart.
With these tips in mind, how might you plan to show more gratitude to your fans and followers?
Lisa Kalner Williams is the founder of Sierra Tierra Marketing, a social media marketing company that provides social analysis, strategy, and instruction to businesses and non-profit organizations. She provides social media news and tips to her fans on the Sierra Tierra Facebook Page.