Pay it forward for big payback

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on January 04, 2010 in: Social Media Marketing, Twitter Tips & Tools

pay-it-forward1Paying it forward is a great idea: When someone does something nice for you, you don’t repay them but you pass it along to by doing something nice for someone else. Although the concept has been around for a long time, it was made popular in the movie “Pay It Forward” with Kevin Spacey and the kid who can see dead people.

But I’m going to get selfish for a moment and talk about how paying it forward is actually good for your business. This concept I’m about to describe to you is espoused by sales gurus like Jeffrey Gitomer. It works and it is the perfect social media strategy for your business, even if it seems counterintuitive at first.

I’m talking about promoting other people. No, not in an affiliate relationship or for some kind of kickback on sales, but instead I’m talking about genuinely promoting other people to the world.

There are two great examples of this on Twitter: the retweet and #followfriday. When you retweet someone, you are promoting their tweet to your followers, exposing the original tweeter to a new group of people. When you mention someone in a #followfriday tweet, you are telling the world that they are worth following.

But it goes beyond that: All social media (not just Twitter) is useful to promote other people. On LinkedIn, you can write recommendations, you can suggest experts while answering questions, and you can give status updates that mention other people. These are great ways to promote others.

“But Heather, I don’t want to promote others, I want to promote myself” you might say. Fair enough, I understand. Chances are, you will still continue doing that; I’m not suggesting that you be entirely selfless! However, when you work to promote other people, a few things happen:

  • The people you’re promoting will feel a stronger connection to you
  • The people you’re promoting will tend to reciprocate (even though you shouldn’t expect it or resent them if they don’t)
  • Other people will see that you’re generous with praise and will be drawn to you (hello more customers!)

It comes back to the idea that if you help other people make more money, you will make more money yourself.

So, how do you do it? Here is my advice:

  1. Plan to promote one person every day.
  2. Be genuine in your praise
  3. Share a comment, testimonial, recommendation, or reason for your endorsement
  4. Vary the type of praise and the distribution
  5. Don’t expect anything in return (but be gracious if they reciprocate)
  6. Repeat

Don’t do it with an ulterior motive like “I hope I get something out of this” because you won’t come across as genuine and your “paying it forward” will seem contrived. Instead, have fun with it and be real. You will win big-time no matter what. Trust me, paying it forward will transform how you do business!

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Happy Blogging!

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