Outback Steakhouse Senior Director of Direct Consumer Marketing Ken Bott says the golden rule applies to social media marketing — and following that rule is what turns superfans into advocates for your stuff. By making every personal interaction count, Bott and Direct to Consumer Marketing Manager Dan Holm created deeper, more authentic relationships with fans.

In fact, one relationship led to an amazing word-of-mouth story that got the whole country talking about Outback Steakhouse. In their presentation at SocialMedia.org‘s BlogWell conference in New York City, Bott and Holm explained how surprising a superfan with 40 gift cards to give away on his 40th birthday led to something bigger than they ever expected.

Here are some key points from their case study on this experiment gone awesome.

  • Customers crave authentic relationships. Fans love having real conversations and seeing that you truly care. If they are showing love for your brand, show it back in genuine ways.
  • No automated tool can do this job. Prepackaged responses won’t work when it comes to engaging on a deeper level. Don’t be afraid to let your personality show and keep it casual, Holm said.
  • Empowered customers will take action for your brand. The company has given tons of superfans gift cards to give away — and every one has followed through with amazing word-of-mouth stories, Holm said. People will be excited and proud to take part in your message if you ask them.

You can see Bott and Holm’s presentation below. Slides are available.

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