Simple (Offline!) Social Media Acts: Recognition + Reciprocation = Win Fans for Life

When’s the last time a person or an organization made a genuine, personal and most importantly, a lasting positive impact on you that you remember? Can you think of one? Do you have a tangible artifact from that interaction? (note, gift, trinket, etc.) I’m betting that there are very few interactions that most of us can point to that would meet those criteria, and that’s a missed opportunity for all of us, and our organizations.

Simple (Offline!) Social Media Acts: Recognition + Reciprocation = Win Fans for Life image NewImage1Simple (Offline!) Social Media Acts: Recognition + Reciprocation=Win Fans for Life

Looking around at my own desk, I have one such trinket, and that’s the old Channel 9 doll from Microsoft that I received from Robert Scoble back in the day when we were teaching the ‘blogging for marketers’ events for the American Marketing Association in 2004-2007. There are countless photos online of the Channel 9 dolls in places ranging from conference room tables to mountain tops. The point here is not that you need to create a mascot, but rather that simple things, given personally, can create an impact with your tribe.

The Lost Art of the Simple

Think about the most basic personal thing that you might receive from a brand. A note. More specifically, a thank you or apology note. When’s the last time you saw one? I bet you can’t remember. According to the U.S. Postal Service’s annual survey, the average home only received a personal letter once every seven weeks in 2010, down from once every two weeks in 1987. Moreover, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal last year, writing anything by hand is quite rare indeed.

In a British survey carried out in June, it was discovered that the average time since an adult wrote anything at all by hand was 41 days. One in three people surveyed said that they hadn’t written anything by hand for at least six months. Two out of three said that the last thing they wrote was for their eyes only—a hastily scribbled note, a shopping list or a reminder.

Simple Recognition is Remarkable, and Shareable

That’s not the case for Rob at Strictly Autobiographical. Rob received a handwritten note and a box of Milano cookies from Pepperidge Farm after he wrote a bit on his blog about how much he loves the cookies. Not only did Rob feel an extraordinary sense of gratitude, the story was shared on his blog and Facebook page, as well as receiving some media attention on the AG Beat site. Not bad publicity for a simple act of recognizing a good customer.

Simple (Offline!) Social Media Acts: Recognition + Reciprocation = Win Fans for Life image pepperidge farmSimple (Offline!) Social Media Acts: Recognition + Reciprocation=Win Fans for Life

The power of recognition has been widely explored and written about in the area of employee recognition. The Gallup organization has found that employees who receive regular recognition experience several benefits.

  • Increase their individual productivity
  • Increase engagement among their colleagues
  • Are more likely to stay with their organization
  • Receive higher loyalty and satisfaction scores from customers

But what about recognition of our customers? How does simple, personal recognition affect your customers? Well, as it turns out, it affects them in much the same way due to the simple psychology behind recognition: the rule of reciprocation.

Robert Cialdini mentioned a classic case of an outstanding car salesman in his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (which, if you’ve not read that, it’s a fundamental text for marketers – devour it soon) who would send handwritten notes to his clients once a month with simple messages in them. He was the best selling sales person

Let’s look at another example of a small gift or bit of recognition in foodservice. According to Cialdini:

If a server brings you a check and does not include a candy on the check tray, you will tip the server whatever it is that you feel the server deserves. “But if there’s a mint on the tray, tips go up 3.3 percent,” Cialdini says. Moreover, if they look you in the eye when they deliver the check, while giving the candy, the tips go up even more!

You see, your simple recognition doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate, and it’s best when it simply becomes a habitual part of your process.

Look and Listen for Opportunities

The first step in putting the simple power of recognition to work in your organization is to look for opportunities to come up with your own simple act like the ones already mentioned.

Secondly, you should also consider adding this into your online listening routine. Recognizing those who speak about you online with an offline gesture and further boost online sharing and positive word of mouth, as was the case with the Pepperidge Farm story.

Create Reactions

That’s your goal here. You’re here to inspire and create a reaction from your audience that gets them talking about you, sharing your good words and good deeds with their tribe, all while building your tribe.

Question: When is the last time you recognized a good customer with a personal note or something tangible?

Question 2: What can your organization start doing today to start the virtuous cycle of recognition and sharing?

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