Brands have been using promotional products for ages. In fact, during the election of George Washington, commemorative pins were given out. Yeah, that’s right. The guy with wooden teeth was branding himself long before contemporary marketers were leading focus groups, conducting studies, and spending exuberantly to determine how to best reach the public.
Seeing as giving out swag is such a traditional practice, it seems odd that some brands are having trouble integrating it into relatively new tools such as social media. A helpful acronym to guide your brand through merging the old with new is G.E.R.—Grow, Engage, Reward.
Building a following does not have to be a costly effort. People LOVE free stuff — any kinds of stuff (barring Yellow Page phone books). In fact, there are websites dedicated to finding and spreading links to free promo materials.
Many brands will offer a small and affordable branded product for new followers, retweets, or likes (Ex: The next 100 users to like our shop page will receive a FREE USB drive). Keep track of followers across all your social media platforms with Hoot Suite.
If a brand has a sizable number of followers, there still may be a lack of activity. Promotional products could be the catalyst needed to get your platforms active! After all, what good is social media if your messages blend in with every other brand?
Pose a question, activity, or task for your followers. Ex: Caption this photo! Our five favorite responses will receive a free coffee mug!
After garnering attention and activity from customers, pick out some that stand out and continuously contribute to conversations. Instead of giving these select individuals small tokens of appreciation, opt for giving higher gifts that deviate away from the norm; companies like Pinnacle Promotions offer promotional products that range from stuffed animals to tailgating gear, allowing the kind of material you hand out to truly represent your interests and identity.
To show a more personal side of your brand, attach a handwritten note or mention them in a post/tweet thanking them for their loyalty. By rewarding these users, this not only shows the value you place on these people, but also encourages others to grow your social media presence.
- Don’t be afraid to offer weird or unconventional products. Ex: Big Ass Fans make high volume fans. Instead of just offering a stress ball or hat with their name on it, they offered followers this odd shirt with donkeys howling at the moon.
Quirky promos will make your brand stand out from the rest of the companies throwing pens at one out of 100 followers.
- You don’t only have to share physical gifts — sometimes sharing a funny video or insightful anecdote will make your followers remember your brand more than any product can.
- Customize social media pages, but stay consistent. If you have a website (which you better), use elements from there to use as backgrounds or profile pictures.
- While initiating contact via social media with customers may be a daunting task at first, it can become an easy and rewarding experience in the overall marketing scheme. If you ever feel overwhelmed from following the G.E.R. formula, just remember it is SOCIAL media. People like people who like people. And more importantly, people like brands that like people.
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