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Acknowledgement: One Simple way to Turn Fans into Fanatics

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The face was familiar.  I’ve seen that smile many times over the years at the check-out register.  She’s always polite, efficient and makes me feel like a valued customer.  That’s a big reason why I shop there.

It was the weekend.  She wasn’t wearing that same familiar branded polo shirt, but I knew it was her.  I smiled, waved, and started to say hello.

And then it happened.

She walked right past me, looking straight ahead without the slightest glimmer of  recognition.

I was stunned.  It’s not the money I’ve spent in her employer’s store. It’s not the fact I’ve been a loyal customer for five years now.  It’s not even the fact I’ve seen her on a weekly basis that bothers me.  What eats at me is that behavior is not even human.

There are few things in the world as cold as being ignored.  Yet it happens every day.

This story is not true.  It’s an analogy for the social behavior of companies online.  Silence.  Nothing.  In fact  one recent study suggests 16 percent of brands never acknowledge posts.  It’s like walking right past someone waving hello.

Ever Tweet at a company without response?  Ever post a compliment on a brand’s Facebook Page that goes ignored?   Ever post a blog comment that goes unanswered?  The one and only lonely comment and yet it’s left without a response.  That’s called “fire and forget.”  That’s not engagement.

Why?  Why not respond?  Responses turn loyal fans into fanatics.  I work in the marketing field and yet I still get a bit excited when a brand acknowledges me.  If a compliment is the most underutilized tool in leadership, then the simple act of acknowledgement is surely the most  underutilized in relationship building online.

Clearly there are limitations — we can’t respond to everyone — but we sure as heck can try our hearts out.  My marketing wing-woman and I make a good faith effort to respond to as many as we can; often it’s the first thing I do every morning, or the last thing I do at night.

Sixteen-percent of brands don’t even make an effort, which causes me to wonder:  why are they even online?

Acknowledgement:  it’s a simple way to turn fans into fanatics.

Photo credit:  Flickr via Creative CommonsCC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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