The power of gratitude is well known in social media circles. It’s a way for big brands to show followers that they care on a one-to-one level; it allows smaller brands to build their core of loyalists that are necessary to any word-of-mouth marketing effort; it builds personal brands; it makes everyone involved feel good.

What’s less clear is how you’re supposed to actually go out and show people your appreciation. Some methods are well worn: Follow Friday is such an institution on Twitter it’s barely worth doing anymore.

Here are a few less common ways to show your fans that you care and take your social media bonds to another level.

  • On Twitter: I’m not a fan of Follow Friday (the #FF hashtag) because it’s simply too successful. If I tweet your name as one of 40 people I’m recommending this week, it loses some of the specialness it once had. Also, #FF is a relic from Twitter’s early days, when it was tougher to find out who was on Twitter and who you should be following. Now we’ve got lists and recommended users and other tools for finding must-follow accounts. As a result, #FF has lost its punch — when was the last time you followed someone because they were on a #FF list? So instead of just listing your fans, why not highlight them in more personal ways? Instead of just thanking someone when they say something nice about you, try retweeting the complement. When you respond to someone, put a period in front of the @ symbol in the handle, so that others can see you engage with them. (Note: Only do this with lighthearted discussions. Serious talks should be had via DM if possible.) Mention authors by Twitter handle when you tweet their blog posts. Try playing matchmaker and introduce two followers of yours that you think would enjoy reading each other’s tweets. And if you simply must do follower recommendations, give it an updated twist: create smallish lists of followers around a given topic and then promote those lists your followers … on any day but Friday.
  • On Facebook: You’re tagging people in notes and photos on Facebook — why not take it a step further and actually mention users by name in your notes? Facebook has a more intimate feel than many other social media platforms (remember, it’s all relative) and mentioning someone in a FB note can carry a more personal touch than giving them a shout out in a blog post. Also, note that while #FF is a lost cause on Twitter, the new subscribe feature on FB gives you another way to tout your most interesting and engaging fans. A Facebook note listing the coolest people to subscribe to for a given field could be a nice way to show the folks on your list that you care.
  • On blogs: Any business-related blog should have a “what we’re reading feature.” Curation is a great way to add value for your readers and to let bloggers know you’re following their work. A trackback is a great attention getter and everyone loves the guy who’s willing to promote others — trust me, I’d know. Don’t just link to the other blogger, however: Introduce them by name and say something nice about them. Even if you’re not a famous name brand, you’re suddenly on that blogger’s radar. Now you’ve created an opportunity to follow up with them on other platforms and deepen the relationship.

How are you saying “thank you” today?

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12 responses to “Beyond Follow Friday: How to reach out and show a little gratitude to your fans”

  1. Faye Oney says:

    I also agree with your #FF opinion. While I've only used it a couple times, I do thank my tweeps for the #FF. Another way to share the love is by promoting your connections on LinkedIn — their blog posts, accomplishments, etc. The karma will come back to you!

  2. jstanchak says:

    LinkedIn requires a little more finesse for brands because of the amount of weight that chatter on that network carries — but for the right personal/corporate brands that may be all the more reason to give it a shot. Thanks!

  3. […] Beyond Follow Friday: How to Reach Out and Show a Little Gratitude to Your Fans (SmartBlog on Social Media) Making each of your fans feel special is tough, especially when you have a lot of them. SmartBlog’s Jesse Stanchak has some tips on how to show your followers some appreciation. […]

  4. Carol Classic Exec says:

    With Twitter moving up my list to be my preferred means of reaching out, I have to say I like the idea of the matchmaking. Enjoyed the read. Thanks

  5. I am so new to Twitter I haven't even heard of Follow Friday – kind of like my kids never heard of records.

    One of the influences that got me onto blogging and social networking was the book "Trust Agents" by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. In there they said you build up those in the community you are part of – self promotion should be a very small percentage (I think it is 1 out of 12) .

    Of course, as a relative beginner it is easy to do, one or two new Twitter followers a week gives you time to tweet each personally to thank them for following!
    My recent post Simply Character

  6. Another way of showing your gratitude is pointing the spotlight to one of your followers. I can't think of any other way of making him or her feel special. One can perhaps feature his comment, shout-out, status update, or tweet to the rest of your followers.
    My recent post The Evolution of iOS

  7. Klout is a great way to say thanks to your community. If you're engaging with them on certain topics, it's easy to give them +K.
    My recent post Cover Image Hacks for Facebook Timeline

  8. @lyena says:

    If you are a local business, don't forget to monitor Foursquare for checkins. I would definitely pay more attention to followers there and reward them for checking in often. Mobile is the next big thing – try to connect with the fans through their mobile devices.
    I agree with you, Jesse, that #FF is outlived its usefulness. Very few people post why they recommend a persion. I see less #FF messages though. And I am one of the few who does thank for a mention, but I do not include the rest of the people in my response.
    My recent post Essential Tools For Your Website

  9. […] to know some jargon: Retweet (RT), @Reply, and @Mention (click on the links for more details).  Jesse Stanchak on SmartBlog takes it step further: “Instead of just thanking someone when they say something nice about […]

  10. […] Beyond Follow Friday: How to Reach Out and Show a Little Gratitude to Your Fans by Jesse Stanchak, Smart Blog on Social Media […]