There’s a lot of talk about brand monitoring these days. While there doesn’t feel like a lot you can control when it comes to social media marketing, checking to see what people are saying about you is fairly easy to do and report on. It’s pretty easy to look for people talking smack about you, or spreading mis-informed opinions about what you do or who you are.
But what about the people who like you? While I’m sure people keep a tally of who’s saying something nice about them, there’s rarely a plan for dealing with them. Perhaps because the concept of brand monitoring is born out of putting out fires. If someone says they like a company or product, there’s no fire to put out. Usually, “thanks for the comment!” is all kind words seem to merit.
This is a waste. People who take a moment to say something nice about your company could be made into full-time brand champions. With encouragement and appreciation, they could be the kinds of people you dream of having out there, ones who comment on other people’s blogs or tweet about how brilliant what you do is.
Just as you should have a plan for dealing with the negative comments, you should know how you’re going to deal with your potential new friends as well. Here is what you should try:
- When you find positive mentions of your brand, reply back as quickly as you can. Thank them for their praise, and be sure to comment directly on what they said. For instance, if someone writes, “Dionigi’s Pizzas are the best!” respond with, “Glad to hear it! What do you like on yours?”
- After that, if you can, try to send a direct message to the author, or an e-mail if it’s available to you. Send a private thanks, and ask them in further detail what they liked. If someone at a party said to you, “You’re with [your company]? I love you guys!” you wouldn’t be shy about asking why, would you?
- Maintain a list of these fans that you’ve been able to get in touch with directly. Obviously, if you try to write back to a Twitter user about why they liked your brand and they don’t respond, that’s a dead lead. Move on. But if you have a lengthy exchange with one, get their name and put it in the list as someone to contact later. Do this for bloggers, Tweets, Facebook friends, reviewers on Yelp, forums – if they have a name and you’ve been able to establish direct communication, log them and where you left things off.
- With that list of friends in hand, go back to them occasionally and offer them know of “inside” tips and specials. This is particularly effective if you’re responding to a blogger. Bloggers love inside scoops, something they can be the first to report. On occasion, when you do have something you’re going to announce or offer, let them know first. Give them a chance to be the hero and spread the word for you first. It builds incredible good will with them, and frankly they may have the juice to publicize your story better than your press release will.
- When your friends repeatedly don’t bite at your offers of specials, info, coupons, etc., take them off your list. They aren’t doing anything for you after all, and in all likelihood you’re just bugging them. You definitely don’t want to do that, lest they start posting about how much they used to love you, but now you’ve turned into a pain in the ass.
- If you’re a local business, have a party for your list of fans. Rent a room at a bar or restaurant and have them all over for food and drinks. Tweet-ups are great for this. (Stuart Foster has a great piece on how to organize Tweet-ups on Mashable.) Be sure they know it’s a show of your appreciation of them, and do NOT use it as a time to get them all “on board” with some new messaging you’re really hoping they’ll evangelize about. That is a turn-off. Remember, these people aren’t employees – they’re your customers, and they’re there because they took the time to tell others how great you are. This is simply something you should do to grease the rails with them.
Think of all of this as a volunteer affiliate program – you don’t have to pay these people to post about how great you are, but you do need to keep them happy. Some will be so into what you do that they’re happy to help. You may even want to hire some of these people eventually if they are effective marketers and bloggers who have, of their own volition, drank your Kool-Aid.