Social media etiquette: Dos and don'ts for strengthening online relationships with customers and other people who engage with your brand.
One step that gets overlooked in most social media strategies is how companies go about thanking their audience and customers. Your customers and audiences play a significant role in whether your online marketing strategy will succeed, especially if it focuses around social media. Saying "thank you" is now just as important as understanding where and how to communicate with them.
Don't Say Thank You With Your Own Products or Services
Unless you give your customers a limited edition or personalized version of your product or service, saying "thank you" with your own "stuff" comes off as self serving and a bit tacky. This amounts to silently saying, "I'm too lazy to get you a gift that you'd appreciate."
A mass marketed coupon isn't a great way to say thank you either. If it's a coupon that anyone else can get but is only distinguished by a different tracking code, there's nothing really special about it. It could even be seen as a covert attempt to get the community to buy more of your products or services. The last thing you want is your efforts at building solid relationships sabotaged by a misstep in how you say thank you.
Take the time to understand what the community values, especially if you want to thank a community as a group.
Maybe you're working on establishing relationships with a group in Flickr in which group members add photos of the different ways they use your product and they share and discuss what they did. How could you thank them as a group? Perhaps you could offer each of them a year's Pro Membership to Flickr, or a photo package with Snapfish so they can print out and frame their favorite photos? This would be relevant and a different way to say thank you to an entire group.
Do the Unexpected
The unexpected thank you is likely going to be the most remembered and most talked about one. I had the opportunity to speak on a panel about Twitter last year at SES Toronto. On that panel with me was Rayanne Langdon (@rlangdon) from FreshBooks (@freshbooks). Langdon's examples of how she says thank you or even "I'm thinking about you" to FreshBook's audience and customers are unexpected and personal.
In addition to being touching to the person who receives these thank you notes or unexpected gifts, it also makes these people realize that FreshBooks isn't just another company out for their money. It shows that real people who care are behind the operations at FreshBooks. From sending flowers to a customer who was stood up on a first date, to researching that a client really liked "bamboo" and sending a set of dinner plates, Langdon takes the time to show her audience and customers that FreshBooks values those personal relationships they establish.
Hand Written Notes Go a Long Way
The art of writing thank you notes in today's electronic age seems to be something of the past. Sending a handwritten thank you note nowadays gets talked about because it's so rare. Even online companies can send a handwritten thank you to people in social media communities who help you out.
Whenever I get a written or personalized thank you note from a company (not one that is obviously computer generated), I take notice. I remember it. A lot of times I keep them and tell people about them. Such is the case with Kimpton Hotels. I've become a huge fan of Kimpton because of the time they take to know me and to thank me for my stays with them. I recommend them to friends and even my clients.
Whenever I've stayed at a Kimpton Hotel, I'm greeted with a thank you note and sometimes some kind of special little token of a thank you. The image here is of a thank you note hand written by the concierge at Hotel Palomar in Arlington, Virginia. Mr. Jones actually hand delivered it to me with a chocolate and fruit treat and apologized that it was late and not waiting in my room for me.
A company can say thank you many ways, or tell its audience and customers that you appreciate them. With social media, companies need to be even more cognizant of how exactly they're doing that. Saying thank you to your customers or the people you're engaging with can become a conversation all on its own and affect how you are perceived in the community's eyes.
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Liana "Li" Evans is the author of the award winning social media marketing book, "Social Media Marketing: Engaging Strategies for Facebook, Twitter & Other Social Media" and she is the president and CEO of Da Li Social, as well as an adjunct professor for Rutgers University's Mini MBA Program. Liana has also been featured in the books "Online Marketing Heroes" and "Video Marketing An Hour a Day." As an established online marketing industry veteran with over 15 years of experience she's focused her unique skillset to specialize in integrated marketing and how companies can successfully strategize integrating all online marketing channels as well as offline traditional media. Her deep technical combined with a public relations background enables her to partner with clients for establishing successful online marketing campaigns that combine cross-channel tactics cohesively.
Li was the search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing architect for such companies as QVC and Comcast (Fancast) and has consulted with several other different sized companies such as AOL MovieFone. Her wealth of knowledge in dealing with large e-commerce and content sites allows her a wider perspective into what it takes to launch successful marketing campaigns in the online space.
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