In the current state of the economy, it is no longer about simply reaching out to your audience and hoping that they purchase your product – keeping your fingers crossed that they will become a “fan” of you. It is now about creating, building and extending relationships with your audience. Whether they are direct consumers, partners or employees – it does not make a difference. Your company is at the center of all of these relationships. Businesses need to understand the importance of these relationships and how the “little things” can make a big difference.

Note: I am married and have always been told that it is the little things that make a big difference, and I am also still trying to grasp this concept

Case-in-point – FourSquare

from the nydailynews.com

If you are not familiar with FourSquare, it is a location-based application for your phone where you can “log-in” to places that you visit. You can “friend” other people and you can also gain badges for certain activities – visiting and logging in to 5 different Starbucks for example will get you a Starbucks badge – but more on that later. You can also become what they call the “Mayor” of these locations, meaning that you have visited that specific area and have logged in more than anyone else. There is definitely a gaming component to FourSquare as you can try to gather as many badges as possible, and take the Mayor-ship from others who you may, or may not, know – which makes it a lot of fun.

Now there are other things to think about when leveraging Foursquare, including who you friend and where you post your status updates, but that is not what this post is about, it is about how a Business can create, build and extend the relationships with its audience and embrace new ways to communicate.

When I got into work today, I opened Twitter up to see what was going on. After about 10 minutes, I saw this post from a former colleague, good friend, and Social Media (I hate to say this but insert a descriptive here – guru, all-star, rock-star, evangelist……) Aaron Strout (@aaronstrout ):

local @Starbucks celebrated wife, @MelanieStrout’s @FourSquare mayorship w/ this sign & free gift bag. Nice! http://tweetphoto.com/17496680

FourSquare Mayorship

Welcome to Starbucks Mayor Melanie

Now can you imagine walking into your local Starbucks, and seeing that sign? Also, it was one thing for them to create the sign and to have their employees sign the banner, but it was another thing to put together a Gift Bag for her – likely related to her favorite drink, like one of those insulated plastic cups that they have (just a guess here).

I think that they key thing to think about is that this type of public recognition does not have to take part on a platform or technology like FourSquare – but it does need to happen in some way, shape or form to your customers, partners and employees in order to survive in this ever changing evolution of Social engagement. This is also another way to take online interactions and take them off-line, in the real world.

By the way, added benefits of their gesture – a Twitter post that easily reached tens of thousands of people instantly, and also encouraged this blog post.

Starbucks is a great example of a business that is embracing Social Media, between their FourSquare presence/partnership and the My Starbucks Idea that they have launched and continue to monitor, they are building their relationships and creating customers for life.

Have you seen other examples of this, and if you have, how has it changed your perception?

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