“No one who achieves success does so without acknowledging the help of others. The wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude.” – Alfred North Whitehead, British Mathematician, Logician and Philosopher.
As a small business owner, you understand the importance of regularly thanking your customers in person. “Thank you for stopping by,” “Thank you for working with us,” “Thank you for referring our company.” In social media marketing, gratitude is just as important. Showing your appreciation for compliments, shares and the transfer of knowledge helps you build a loyal fan base and promote your company as a warm, friendly and confident business.
In addition, social media gratitude is one way of furthering the conversation with prospective customers and current clients. These conversations, conducted on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or on other networks, are often open for the Internet world to see. If done correctly, these types of conversations invite others to jump in, and can even reinforce the goodwill of your brand in search engine results.
“Thank You”s That Matter
There are two kinds of thank yous in social media. There are the everyday, common-courtesy “Thanks for the RT” (Twitter), #FF (Follow Friday on Twitter), “Thanks for sharing!” (Facebook/Google+) and “Glad you found the information useful” (LinkedIn/Google+) kinds of thank yous. These are the waves that you give drivers when they let you turn first. This type of one-off gratitude is standard practice in social media marketing, and is absolutely expected of you as a professional marketer.*
*Note: There are services out there that automatically send “thank you”s to anyone who mentions you company name on Twitter. TURN THEM OFF. You can’t automate true gratitude. Even if it is just saying ‘thanks for sharing,’ unless you’re getting a thousand RTs a day, you should be the one doing it. Your followers may eventually recognize this is an automated service, thus defeating the purpose of building loyalty by expressing true gratitude.
The second type of gratitude is the type that really matters. These are “thank you”s with thought and effort on your part. These are the ones that invite further conversation, demonstrate genuine appreciation and make others feel good. These are the “thank you”s that will help define you as an appreciative, caring organization and help build brand loyalty.
Here are just a few ways you can demonstrate true gratitude via social media:
Champion Their Cause – Perhaps the greatest way to demonstrate true gratitude is to jump in and promote their cause. If you are truly grateful for the service that XYZ Company provides, recommend them. If your customer, Company ABC, is holding a charity event, promote it to your fans. If you know that one of your loyal customers, Sally Smith, is active on social media networks and is looking for additional information on a product/service you don’t provide, ask your followers and fans to share their tips or information. Demonstrate gratitude by providing MORE value.
Give It Away – What if you sent a free product, or a coupon for 50% off some service you provide, or a free e-Book, to those who took the time to promote your brand? What if you randomly selected a few of your top Facebook commenters and gave them something exclusive, something of value, something they didn’t expect? In the book Likeable Social Media, Dave Kerpen reminds us that there is real value in surprising and delighting fans.
Expand Follow Friday – Write a blog post or a Google+ entry explaining the value you get from following someone. Describe what they do, provide a link to their website and talk about why your core audience would benefit from following them. Promote this post/entry on Friday on Twitter with the #FF tag and a great, enticing headline.
Ask Follow-Up Questions – When someone shares something you’ve written, ask them what it was that they learned from the post. Better yet, ask them a specific question about how the post relates to something they are doing. Learn a little about them from their Twitter bio or website, and get specific. You’ll not only show your appreciation for sharing, but you’ll also demonstrate that you’re truly interested in providing future content that interests them.
Invite Them to Share Experience – Everyone likes to see their name in lights, so why not ask someone who has provided value to you (via sharing your blog or providing information relevant to your target audience) to share their thoughts on your blog/website/Facebook page? If you agree to include a link to their website, it’s a win-win!
Take It Offline – Social media networks allow for relatively quick and easy “thank you”s. But sometimes, you need to take it a step further. If a recommendation ends up landing your company a big job, you probably want to do something slightly bigger for the person who recommended you. Even if the connection was made online, saying thank you offline often has the most impact. It’s the most genuine kind of thank you, with no strings or self-promotion attached. The funny thing is that often this type of offline gratitude generates positive online promotion for your brand after the fact. “Look at these beautiful flowers Company 123 just sent us to say thank you!”
About The Author:
Melissa Reyes is a mom, Twitter addict, full-time social media manager and the owner of Social Amateur, a consulting company focused on helping small businesses navigate the world of social media marketing. You can find her on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.