People want to feel loved and appreciated for who they are, but it’s not just that – they also want to be validated. In an age of celebrities and corporate monoliths, the people we see on TV are so far removed from our reality that it’s hard to relate to them as real people. These big companies are like the popular kids at school: We know who they are and everything about them, but they wouldn’t have a clue who we are. Even if you were the popular kid, imagine what it would have been like to be on the other side and have a popular kid recognise you by name.
In 2011, trendwatching.com released a brief about one of the greatest things companies can do to validate customers and show they care: Random Acts of Kindness (which they referred to as RAK). They believed that RAK came about because of customers’ distaste for ‘distant, inflexible and self-serving corporations’.
A Random Act of Kindness is when a company unexpectedly sends gifts, responds to publicly expressed moods, goes out of its way to help, or just shows a customer that they care somehow.
Social media, blogs and other online interactions mean that it’s never been easier to get to know our potential customers and surprise them by reacting to their needs or desires in innovative or even personalised ways. In October 2010, internationally recognised flower delivery service, Interflora, monitored Twitter for users that needed cheering up and contacted them to send a bouquet of flowers as a complete surprise.
It’s not just the big guys with huge budgets and a wide reach who are doing this. Ribar Floral, a small florist based in Detroit, gives away a free bouquet to any local who has been nominated by their fellow residents for doing good deeds. The florist regularly updates the recipient list on its Facebook page and people are talking about it.
In figures released by Facebook in February 201121, 500 million active Facebook users share over 30 billion pieces of content per month. Social media allows us to listen to and engage with our current and potential customers, but more importantly, it’s a massive pond where the ripple effects of our actions can touch thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people. With the most frequently shared pieces of content being the ones people find interesting, meaningful, funny, or uplifting, Random Acts of Kindness are possibly the most likely of your marketing strategies to go viral.
RAKs can bring unexpected delight to consumers and not only enhance a brand’s reputation but truly make an impact on people’s lives. Unfortunately, if it’s done the wrong way, it could annoy or quite possibly freak people out. Be sure to pop over to trendwatching.com and get a few tips from on how to get it right: http://www.trendwatching.com/trends/rak/