No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. ~Aesop
Take a moment and think about the last unsolicited act of kindness you witnessed. After you saw the person perform this random act of kindness, chances are you felt more emotionally connected to the person, saw him in a more positive light and had some of your preconceived notions about him melt away.
Recently, companies have been using the warm, fuzzy feeling created by a random act of kindness to their advantage when creating positive feelings toward their brands. This movement has gained momentum and was actually rated by Trendwatching.com as one of the Crucial Consumer Trends for 2011.
Research shows consumers crave realness, the human touch and kindness. Humans crave contact from other humans on a daily basis. By making a brand more humanistic, consumers begin to crave interaction with those brands. When a brand becomes more interactive and more caring for its customers, consumers take note of how real it is. And, when a brand shows that it can be kind, consumers view it as more human and more real, therefore making them more emotionally connected to that brand.
What act of kindness has your brand accomplished recently? If you can’t think of anything, now may be the time to surprise some of your customers with an act of kindness in line with your brand’s values. For example, if you own an energy drink brand, perhaps monitoring your Twitter feed for followers complaining of exhaustion will present you with an opportunity to surprise them with a random act of kindness.
One of the most recent acts of kindness that became newsworthy happened when a Morton’s Steakhouse follower on Twitter tweeted that he wished he could have a Morton’s steak brought to him at the Newark Airport after landing. Upon arrival, the man found a Morton’s employee dressed in a tuxedo with a steak, sides and even silverware and a napkin at the baggage claim. (Side note: the closest Morton’s Steakhouse was 24 miles away and the flight was only two hours long, which makes this even more of an impressive act.) The recipient of this act of kindness tweeted and blogged about this event, which resulted in national news coverage for the brand. This random act of kindness made Morton’s seem more human and garnered many new Twitter followers as well.
Other random acts of kindness have included a “Coke Happiness Machine” that gave away multiple Cokes and food for people to share, a billboard for a German dog food that gave away free dog food straight out of the billboard upon a Foursquare check-in and a Wheat Thins truck that gave away truckloads of Wheat Thins to random people who tweeted about the brand.
How have these random acts of kindness become so effective? The answer can be found in the fact that people share virtually everything online via social media. Whether on Twitter, Facebook or through a blog, many random acts of kindness have the potential to spread like wildfire and can gain great earned media attention for a brand. Even if these acts do not spread, companies can know that they brightened someone’s day — and perhaps made a stronger brand advocate in the process.