How Inspiring Brands Give Thanks on Social Media
Happy Thanksgiving to all those in the United States who celebrate!
I hope you’re disconnecting from digital devices and spending at least a little quality time with your friends and loved ones IRL today. If your Thanksgivings are anything like mine, I’ll bet you could use a little distraction to help you stay sane while dodging your aunt’s probing questions about your love life and heated family debates on politics (or while letting your food coma runs its course).
Plenty of businesses recognize their loyal fans and followers with special giveaways, discounts, and other rewards (content-related or otherwise); but more can take a little extra effort to dedicate team resources to content that simply expresses gratitude – to fans, followers, customers, or even their own employees – whether or not it’s tied to a sales pitch or promotion.
In the spirit of Joe Pulizzi’s recent love letter to the CMI team and community, I thought I’d share thoughtful ways companies have used their social media pulpits (and other content platforms) to give thanks to their audiences.
From grand gestures of goodwill to simple social shout-outs, the following efforts are just a sample of the ways your brand can demonstrate its genuine appreciation to those who make your business successes possible.
Saying thank you doesn’t require a huge campaign or big budget. A simple acknowledgment can go a long way (and pet pictures never hurt).
It always hits me right in the “feels” when I see pet-rescue post-adoption success stories and photos on the organizations’ Facebook pages to thank new pet parents for adopting instead of shopping for a furry companion. And some – like southern California-based nonprofit Animals Rule – take it a step further by mailing (and socially sharing) postcards with a photo collage of all their rescues that found forever homes that year. It’s a great way for them to thank everyone who adopted, donated, or otherwise supported their efforts to care for the well-being of homeless pets.
An organization that provides free services to breast cancer patients and their families, the Ellie Fund also recognizes donor contributions through Facebook. This recent post thanks a group of students who participated in its Students for Hope program during Breast Cancer Awareness Month:
More elaborate displays of affection
Of course, giving thanks isn’t just for nonprofits and cause-based organizations. Plenty of B2B and B2C businesses also use content marketing to show appreciation to their brand fans and followers.
One of the most popular methods is to recognize individual fans publicly through user-generated media campaigns, photo contests, or tags in a social media post. Mini runs a monthly photo challenge where brand fans can share photos that fit a relevant theme (such as October’s #FitsInMyMini challenge) for a shot at getting their submissions showcased on the brand’s Facebook and Instagram channels.
Another thanks-giving technique content marketers can explore is to make an event of reaching key brand milestones – like hitting certain sales or social goals – or celebrating demonstrations of qualities the brand values.
When sockmaker Bombas reached its 10-year goal to sell a million pairs of socks – and donated an equal number of pairs to homeless shelters – in less than three years, the company marked the occasion with a thank-you video shared on Facebook and the Bombas website.
Another event-centric display of gratitude comes from REI. Growing frustrated with increasingly frenzied Black Friday sales stunts, the intrepid outdoor brand encouraged its consumers – and paid its employees – to reclaim the day by spending it outdoors rather than crawling (and brawling) their way through store aisles looking for discounts. The REI co-op will close its doors once again on Black Friday, and, to kick off this year’s movement, it inspired others to follow suit and #OptOutside with a new video.
While one-time or once-a-year recognition is great, brands can use social media to honor fan participation in more enduring ways. For example, I’ve adored just about every piece of content pet product service Barkbox has shared with me through its newsletters and social channels. But my invitation to join its Barkbox Ambassadogs community on Facebook has been a gift that keeps on giving. The invitation-only page is where the brand’s most … uh … passionate and engaged fans (I’ll stop short of calling them “rabid” for obvious reasons) can congregate to share pics and stories of their own pups, as well as view Barkpost company news, products, and new content before the public can get their paws on it.
Expressing your brand’s appreciation is one thing. But then there are those content efforts where companies go above and beyond to demonstrate all-out adoration of their fans – and give consumers reasons to love them back just as much.
This year, shoe enthusiasts were treated to a traveling road show courtesy of Zappos. The company’s Friends With Benefits tour is a multicity pop-up shopping and entertainment experience wrapped up in a renovated shipping container. What’s even better is that the event activities and merchandise are curated to suit each host city’s unique culture – bringing together music by local artists, collections of top styles participants can purchase, and free food and drinks from the area’s favorite food trucks. Zappos tops the experience off with free pet adoptions in conjunction with local shelters. There’s still time to vote for your city to be the next stop on the tour; and you can also check out the making-of video.
Taking events in a more virtual direction, Denny’s produced a video featuring popular animated characters from its Grand Slams video series and used it in a social campaign to give away branded merchandise in a QVC-like setting.
Then, later that year, the breakfast-friendly restaurant brand took it to the next level by creating an animated Facebook Live event where fans could interact with its pancake character in real time and get even more free swag.
You might recall this video from Canadian bank TD Canada, which turned one of its branch’s ATMs into an Automated Thanking Machine, dispensing remarkable and highly personalized tokens of its gratitude to a few lucky customers.
But the thank yous didn’t stop there. A year later, TD followed up with its #ThenAndNow video – a touching, emotional experience the bank cultivated to celebrate special moments in the lives of some loyal customers and their families:
And, of course, no discussion of Thanksgiving gratefulness would be complete without a tip o’ the Capotain hat to Butterball’s toll-free Turkey Talk Line, which thanks consumers by keeping a coop full of trained turkey experts on standby to help home chefs handle all their holiday food prep and recipe needs. Last year, Butterball even expanded its Turkey Talk platform to provide on-demand assistance 24/7 via text messaging, keeping its customers feeling thankful, while keeping its brand firmly entrenched in the culinary conversation.
From the CMI family to yours, we hope these examples inspire you to find your own ways to thank everyone who supports your business. Now head back on into the kitchen and sneak yourself a second helping of pie.
As a token of CMI’s thanks for your support of content marketing, download this free e-book, 75 Examples to Spark Your Content Marketing Creativity.
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute