by John Williams

I admit it. I’m a cheap­skate. When­ev­er I do my online shop­ping, I will always check for a “dis­count” field on the check­out page. I am prob­a­bly *sin­gle-hand­ed­ly *respon­si­ble for over 30% of all aban­doned carts on the entire inter­net because of my obses­sion with get­ting a dis­count. I can’t con­trol myself. I’ll search online for pub­lished codes, and if all else fails, I’ll take to social media. Believe me, this is incred­i­bly effective.

Some­thing my moth­er used to preach to me as a child was “If you don’t ask, you’ll nev­er know”. Usu­al­ly it was about some girl I was way too inse­cure to ask out. But I’ll apply it to this because, don’t frig­gin’ judge me, I’ll apply life lessons how I see fit. I’m a grown-ass man. *ahem *We were talk­ing about social media and the intox­i­cat­ing idea of dis­count­ed goods and ser­vices. Over the last few years, I’ve become quite good at engag­ing with brands to get a lit­tle shaved off the price. It’s like hag­gling but far less con­fronta­tion­al. And a good brand will under­stand that the val­ue of acquir­ing a new cus­tomer is worth a one-time gift of 20%. Let me tell you about a cou­ple expe­ri­ences and see if you can apply any of this to your shop­ping habits if you’re a con­sumer or your brand strat­e­gy if you’re a business.

I was in the mar­ket for an iPad case. I loved the DODOcase, but wor­ried about it’s dura­bil­i­ty. At the time, there were sev­er­al peo­ple on Face­book com­plain­ing about the build qual­i­ty. The case is made of bam­boo, so it was nat­u­ral­ly pret­ty frag­ile. I did a lit­tle dig­ging and came across anoth­er shop called Porten­zo. They make sim­i­lar, hand-craft­ed, book-like cas­es that used a stronger wood and had more cus­tomiza­tion options. I went through the site and start­ed con­fig­ur­ing my case when one of those chat modals popped up. Usu­al­ly I ignore these, but the copy on the modal was cute so I decid­ed to ask a cou­ple questions.

The “cus­tomer ser­vice elf” Lea was friend­ly, spoke like a human being, and had an active inter­est in help­ing me out. I asked her about a dis­count code and she made me tell her a joke. If I made her laugh, I’d get a discount.

I didn’t. *:(  *

But, I said I was so impressed with the exchange that I would be hap­py to drum up some con­ver­sa­tion on Twit­ter and Face­book. We end­ed up work­ing out a fan­tas­tic deal for me and sev­er­al of my team­mates got a kick out of the wit­ty ban­ter. That exchange has turned me into a very loy­al repeat cus­tomer. I’ve pur­chased sev­er­al cas­es and I’ve point­ed a bunch of peo­ple to Porten­zo, always sug­gest­ing that they take time to say hi to Lea.

Some­times all it takes is a fun­ny Face­book post. I was in the mar­ket for some wood­en decals for my head­phones. Don’t judge. I end­ed up at Laz­er­wood Indus­tries. They had a great look­ing prod­uct and *SQUEE* a dis­count field on their check­out. I head­ed over to their Face­book pro­file and had this experience:

Suc­cess! I end­ed up get­ting a 20% code sim­ply because I engaged a brand that under­stood the impor­tance of cre­at­ing advocates.

This last tale is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent, but no less impor­tant in illus­trat­ing the pow­er of social media engage­ment. Some of my team­mates and I went to lunch at a new restau­rant down the street. They’ve been open less than a week. We had a very dif­fi­cult time and with each stum­bling point, I’d pull out my iPhone and tweet at them. I wasn’t expect­ing any­thing out of it oth­er than the hope that they would see the tweets and make an effort to fix the issues.

After lunch, I received a tweet apol­o­giz­ing for our expe­ri­ence and ask­ing for fur­ther detail. Ulti­mate­ly, they offered me and my team­mates a do over. They gave me the per­son­al phone num­ber of the gen­er­al man­ag­er and asked us to call before­hand so that they could insure a flaw­less expe­ri­ence. This was a com­pa­ny that rec­og­nized the impor­tance of word-of-mouth….er word-of-tweet and took con­crete steps to turn a lousy expe­ri­ence into anoth­er oppor­tu­ni­ty to secure a loy­al customer.

If you, as a brand or busi­ness, can cre­ate advo­cates for your brand, you can increase the like­li­hood of repeat busi­ness, increase the num­ber of word-of-mouth reviews, and grow and expand your busi­ness to new clients.

And peo­ple, try talk­ing to the com­pa­nies you do busi­ness with. Treat them like peo­ple. It’s dis­arm­ing, flat­ter­ing, and unex­pect­ed. Busi­ness­es love that you use their products/services and are so often excit­ed to reward your loyalty.

Do you folks have any suc­cess sto­ries from engag­ing with a brand or one of your cus­tomers on social media? Please share!