You’ve probably benefited from the assistance of countless people and businesses in promoting your brand online. Your staff contributes to company blogs and monitors your Twitter feeds. You watch your competitors online to see what’s working, and you get advice from expert commentary. The individuals who comment positively on your social media content can entice lurkers into becoming prospects.
Are you returning the favour? Rewarding your customers for their interaction with you online is not just a good practice. Even small tokens of your appreciation can trigger referrals to other likely buyers. People like to talk about good products and services publicly; their social network contacts may get something out of it, too.
• Lay in a supply of inexpensive promotional products. If you don’t have any, get some. You’d be surprised how inexpensive small gifts with your name and logo on them can be if you buy in bulk. You can get useful items like little pocket notebooks with sticky flags, fans and business card cases for less than a cup of coffee. Offer them for the best comment of the week or the correct answer to a question. Promotional products both reward the winners and promote your brand.
• Solicit ideas for product and service improvements. You might be surprised at the good, useable feedback you’ll get. People rarely take the time to send snail mail with suggestions, but tapping on the keyboard for a couple of minutes doesn’t take much effort. Offer a discount or promotional item for the best suggestions.
• Shine the spotlight on your customers. It’s not all about you. Social media gives you unprecedented opportunities to see how your products and services are being received and used. Ask your community to create videos (or a series of still photos) that illustrate how your offerings have made their lives better or easier. The top prize doesn’t have to be a trip to Paris, but don’t skimp, either. You can get nice imprinted journals or portfolios and still be cost conscious.
• Reward visitors with online-only sales. Make your customers feel like that they’re being offered a little something extra as thanks for their online participation. You might even let them build up points for their on-site purchases and give high-dollar purchasers a bonus of some kind.
• Feature a customer occasionally. Most people like seeing their faces online. Community members who are especially active might be featured in a little spotlight post answering a question about their use of your wares. You could simply ask a totally unrelated question, something that would be fun.
These suggestions would be most appropriately applied to your Facebook or Google+ pages; your blog might be better used for providing educational and support content. Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn on social network sites. In fact, a new Facebook study reports that speaking about subjects related to your brand is the best way to generate engagement.
People come to your social network sites because they have – or want to have – some kind of connection to you. Reward them for their active participation and you may find that they spread the word.