It was Pete Cashmore, founder of news website Mashable, who once said that, “We’re living in a time when attention is the new currency.” Well, when it comes to marketing professionals—especially those within the wonderful world of startups—that sentiment is often taken out of context; sadly, to the detriment of far too many brands.
While it is true that attention is the new currency, many startups make the mistake of assuming that attention is only a one-way street. With their business being the sole recipient of this new coveted currency.
In following that belief that attention is a one-way street, most startups choose to expend a great deal of their resources devising outbound marketing strategies with lofty goals of yielding as much attention as possible. But when it comes to customers, attention isn’t nor should it ever be—a one-way street.
As in all great relationships, the relationship between your business and its customers should always be one that is mutually beneficial. And that includes the attention that both parties receive from the other. These are 5 customer engagement activities that’ll give customers the type of attention that’ll help them forge and want to maintain a great relationship with your brand.
1. Social media Q&As
Imagine being able to ask a celebrity that you were a fan of and whose work you’ve supported for years a question that you always wondered about them—and getting a response. If you’re like most people, you'd probably be elated over the fact that the celebrity took time out of their busy schedule to personally address your inquiry.
Well, although it may not seem so to you at the moment, as a founder or spokesperson for a startup—you are a celebrity in your own right. You're what author Tonya Eberhart, refers to as a ‘Brandface.’ Which she defines in her book, Brandface for Entrepreneurs, as, “Anyone in a situation where they are likely to represent the brand for an extended period of time.”
As the face of your brand, help customers feel even more special by holding weekly or monthly Q&As on social media that’ll allow them to ask you questions about your startup and yourself. Founders like Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, and Bill Gates have all shown us just how the face of a brand could help galvanize consumer sentiment towards a brand by putting themselves out there—which humanized their respective brands.
Just be sure to respond in kind even if a few of the questions from your audience may be kind of out… let’s just say, out there.
2. Coordinating some chaos
Ultimately, the objective of customer engagement activities is to provide connected experiences for customers of your business. And there’s not many better ways to provide connected experiences than coordinating fun contests and sweepstakes that allows customers to win cool prizes.
Sweepstakes are popular amongst customers because they require no skill. Which means that they are total games of chance. As for contests, while they do require some sort of skill—that’s one of the things that makes a lot of people so excited about them; which often causes a little bit of good chaos from contestants hoping to beat others in order win a prize.
Besides providing a cool connected experience for customers, another benefit to conducting contests and sweepstakes is the fact that both often lead to customers making repeat purchases. Which would certainly satisfy the folks in both your startup’s marketing and sales departments.
3. Suggestive polling
It was author David Ausburger, who said that, “Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person they are almost indistinguishable.” People love to be heard. Whether it’s giving their opinion about sports, providing a recommendation for a restaurant, or simply telling others how they feel about a new television show.
Regardless of the situation, when people feel like they’re being heard, they feel understood and appreciated.
Show customers that your startup hears and appreciates them by conducting suggestive polls online that allows their majority vote to decide certain actions your company may make that could be of interest to them.
They don’t necessarily have to be huge decisions, but by allowing customers to have a say-so even in the relatively small things like which colors to use for product packaging would go a long way with them.
4. Reply to their posts
Speaking of being heard, have you ever noticed just how much people seem to feel compelled to reply to others posts on social media (we all do it)? Whenever followers or fans of your brand reach out on social media—be sure to engage by replying to their post (that’s only if their post warrants a reply).
5. Appreciation programs
One of the more popular images seen on social media these days is the Oprah Winfrey Show’s “You get a car!” gif. The reason why that gif is still so relevant almost 20 years after Oprah gifted her studio audience members new cars, is because it was what I call a “Whoa Moment.”
A whoa moment is when a person becomes so pleasantly surprised about something—the only thing that they could say is 'whoa!'
Create whoa moments for your customers by establishing appreciation programs that provide free gifts to customers that signed up to be on your mailing lists. One of the most valuable assets that a startup has is its mailing lists. Therefore, if people rewarded your business by taking the time to sign up to receive emails from you, show them your appreciation with a reward—one that they would appreciate, of course.