If you’ve ever tried to contact a brand or celebrity through social media, you know how frustrating it can be when the only response you seem to receive is deafening silence. You might even watch as your question or complaint goes ignored while someone else’s praise gets Liked or Retweeted. What’s the use of writing on Old Spice’s wall if they don’t seem interested in what you have to say? Will you still be a big Ashton Kutcher fan if he never responds to your tweets?
Author and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk believes brands will only be able to maintain the status quo of print and broadcast ads for so long until they will be force to adapt by embracing social media and the power of what he calls the “Thank You Economy” (TYE). Gary believes so strongly in the power of the TYE that he’s just written a book about it. In it, he advises anyone looking to build a brand (whether corporate or personal) not to overlook the power of a simple “thank you.” Caring genuinely about your customers is paramount to success in the new world of social media; like it or not, people can tell when you’re being sincere and when you’re reading from a script. It’s important to really care and to demonstrate it regularly.
Word-of-mouth marketing will go much further than any TV or print ad. Millions of people will walk by a Times Square billboard every single day and never notice it. Millions more will completely ignore a banner ad above their New York Times online edition. But reaching out to a few hundred people in your Twitter or Facebook community will have far greater value because they are actively engaging with other people who are just as conscientious as they are. They’ll tweet, “Hey, I told Brand X about my trouble and they took care of it for me,” and everyone who reads that tweet will be much more likely to buy Brand X next time, and possibly tweet about their experience as well.
But we as consumers are now living in a world of elevated expectations. If we talk to a customer service representative, we expect the problem to be dealt with quickly and efficiently, and we often want something free or discounted in return for our trouble. How can brands compete and get noticed? They can acknowledge us as people! They can show us that they notice and care about us as individuals and do something to show us how much they appreciate our loyalty. I met Gary at a book signing in New York City recently and he gave an outstanding example of this. Imagine that Brand X follows you on Twitter because of your loyalty to them, and they notice that you tweet a lot about how much you love Derek Jeter and the Yankees. What if Brand X sent you a baseball autographed by Jeter as a thank-you gift the next time you ordered their product? Would you be surprised and impressed? More importantly, would you want to shop with their competitors ever again? I didn’t think so.
That’s the TYE in action. As social media matures and develops, consumers will no longer settle for free shipping or a 10%coupon code. They’re going to expect brands to know them more intimately and go an extra mile to show how much they care. Does this always mean expensive and fancy gifts? No, but it does mean acknowledging that every customer has value, and it may mean random acts of kindness now and then to build buzz by word of mouth. That’s where the 2010 Old Spice campaign went wrong. They built up enormous buzz with Isaiah Mustafa’s video replies to tweets, but they let it end there. Think of all the followers they gained and all the tweets that went unanswered. Sure, the campaign was a huge short-term success, but what if they had gone that one step further and made a serious effort to thank everyone who made it so memorable? Wouldn’t the return on such an investment benefit the company for years to come? Shortly after the height of the campaign, they let their Twitter engagement taper off. They dropped the ball. After such an amazing build-up, they completely wasted an opportunity to follow up and reap the benefits of the TYE.
So what can brands do to adapt to the TYE? Vaynerchuk gives three basic tips for staying ahead of the curve and being ready to thrive in the coming months and years:
- Empower People - Take the time to say things like “Thank you,” and “You’re welcome,” but also “I’m sorry,” “Do you really feel that way?” and “Tell me more.” Show that you care!
- Extend the conversation - While you’ve got fans leaving comments on your page, why let it end right away? Don’t just say “thank you” and move along! Ask them what they enjoyed about their experience, and what you can do better in the future. Keep them engaged and continue making a good impression.
- Learn to Play Ping Pong - Learn how traditional and new media can work hand-in-hand. Don’t make the same mistake Old Spice did! When you serve the ball with one medium, hit it back over the net with another! Use traditional media to pique consumer interest and send them to your Twitter or Facebook page. There, you start a conversation and keep it alive as long as possible.
Any brand can succeed if they follow these tips properly. The important thing to remember is that your customers are smart! So treat them right! Care passionately about their needs and do everything in your power to make them happy. If you make this your guiding principle, everything else falls into place. Use social media as a tool to reach out to them and let word of mouth be your ally. And remember, always say “thank you!”
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Have you ever talked to a brand or celebrity through social media? I really want to know! How did that change your opinion of them?