While increasing visibility and traditional media coverage is a nice perk, you’ll get much more from your social media efforts if you focus on using it as a tool to build brand advocates rather than as just another PR outlet. What’s the best way to do that? By providing something that your audience finds valuable.
“Screw earning media. Start earning value!” was how one of the speakers put it during Social Media Week NYC this month (#SMWNYC.) In other words, the value that social media provides to a brand is something beyond a mention in an article or a retweet; it generates opportunity to build ongoing, solidified relationships with customers and influencers. And in turn, they will provide you with value—referrals, R&D ideas, a knowledgeable focus group, and yes, of course, increased revenue. But how do we do this?
A handy acronym to help you earn value from your customers through social media (courtesy of speakers @shaunabe and@saneel) is:
GAMES – Good, Attention, Money, Experience, Stuff
Good –Whether you’re promoting a charitable organization or showing your involvement in the local community, chances are you will gain more respect from your audience while contributing to the greater good. Participating in a non-profit initiative is the quickest way to humanize your brand. It also can help your social space become more interactive. Whole Foods is a great example, tying a charitable component to their brand and generating value for the customer. This year they started a National Peanut Butter Day event on Facebook, challenging people to buy a jar of peanut butter at participating stores. In return, Whole Foods would donate a jar to the Chicken Soup Brigade.
Attention – Acknowledging a customer through social media sends a direct message that your brand values them. Re-tweeting them, commenting on something they posted or even using an active follower as customer service for your business shines a little lime light on them. There are lots of ways to do this creatively without taking advantage. @Chipotletweets is really good at interacting with people talking about their brand without seeming generic in their responses.
Another great example is Charity: water. They created a new channel on YouTube and made as many videos as possible in one day to thank supporters personally as part of the company’s 5th birthday celebration.
Money – Obviously the promise of cash can help you drive traffic and expand your brand presence. But try using a money incentive in combination with one of the G, A or E tips to boost engagement further. For example, run a contest where the winner gets to choose a charity your organization donates to or reward a customer with the best story that meets a company initiative. You can generate value for your brand and customer without spending lots of cash. But monitor the frequency of this, as you can quickly draw the wrong crowd just looking for an open wallet.
Experience – Remember that your customers’ experiences with your brand through social media isn’t just for first-time customers. It’s also continuing the relationship with your long-terms fans as well. But the experience needs to be valuable enough for your customer and your organization to benefit from it. Just like a rockstar at a concert, your fans support you. But you can strengthen their experience with your brand through simple gestures like pulling one on stage to sing a song. They will probably talk about you positively to their friends and are likely to buy tickets to the next show. The experience was valuable to them and the spend is justified. A great example of this is the Nike #MakeItCount campaign. Nike invited athletes and inspired users to participate in a conversation via Twitter, using the personalized hashtag to act as a new years resolution tweet. They created an inspiring and motivational experience for their consumers and took the extra step to tweet exercise advice to those engaging. The campaign even extended onto Instagram, allowing users to submit their own images as well as YouTube. The results have been long lasting, and have continued to generate conversation since its launch in December 2011.
Stuff – Rewards generate customer motivation. Incentives are a great way to draw attention to your brand and help breed buzz. It’s important to always tie your incentives to something that will be valuable to the customer as well as your brand tho. Asking people to answer questions on a quiz, providing a reward for filling out a survey or starting a trivia hashtag on Twitter are good examples. Whatever you choose, make sure you compare the value to your customer to the total spend from your organization.
These tips are key to building a solid and loyal customer base for your business, as well as a strong following on your social networks. There are so many creative ways to achieve all of the above and we would love to hear succeses you’ve had in your organization using GAMES!