Free Gift To The New Fan?

Today one of the companies I follow on Twitter mentioned that they would be giving away a  prize to their Xth fan. Well, that’s great, a new follower gets a prize. What I don’t understand is why this is a good idea.

The only people who theoretically are going to know about the prize are people who already follow the company, and they’re automatically ineligible. Sure it’s a nice perk to the person who just so happened to be that lucky follower, but what does that say to the existing fans? I understand the idea behind rewarding new customers/fans is to attract new ones, but what about rewarding loyalty?

If companies/brands were excellent to their existing customers and not just to new ones the loyalty to those long-time fans would not only make the fans feel good about their engagement/patronage of the company, but it would also make those existing fans tell other people about that awesome experience. Word of mouth is huge. It comes with something that you just can’t buy: trust. If I hear about a company from someone I know and trust, that means more to me than all of the marketing dollars a company could ever spend.

If a company gives good service after the sale, or makes good on a situation that went badly, a person is more likely to remember that interaction than from someone who was just looking to sell them a widget the fastest. We remember when companies treat us well after we’ve already given them our money and aren’t obligated to give them more, and the funny thing is that while we’re not obligated to come back and spend more, we often do, because we want to, not because we have to.

Go ahead, give that widget to the lucky new fan at a randomly selected milestone number, but don’t forget about all of the existing people who followed you to get your counter that high, because they’ll be the ones telling their friends about you so hopefully you can get to the next milestone.


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