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4 Budget-Friendly Ways to Appreciate Social Fans
By: Christine Geraci
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If you're doing social on a budget decidedly thinner than a shoestring, you may watch from the sidelines with envious longing at the big brands that conjure elaborate displays of follower appreciation whenever they hit a big social media milestone. I can understand that feeling.
But I'm here to tell you that just because you won't be hitting 1 million — or even 1,000 — fans any time soon, it doesn't mean you still can't show your fans a little heartfelt thanks.
It's very important to remember that quality always trumps quantity. Personally, I don't care if you have 10 million fans or just 100 fans. If those 100 people are highly engaged and giving you valuable feedback, in my book that's worth more than millions of silent robot followers any day.
What's more, I don't subscribe to the notion that small social followings are insignificant. Chances are, these people have followed you not because they got a great prize or coupon, but because their only incentive is YOU. Someone who chooses to follow you simply because they like your brand and the content you provide is something very special indeed. And it should be celebrated.
Here are some low-cost and decidedly low-tech ideas to start the party:
Make a "thank you" video. If you have a smartphone, you can take video of various members of your staff saying "thank you," or record a quick heartfelt statement from the owner/CEO. Or, you can get everyone together in a room and have them all shout "Thank You!" at the same time. Then, download an app like iMovie and edit everything together. You can also create text on custom backgrounds to drop into your video using the app Extras4iMovie. Might be a little corny, but it's also fun and human
Take a photo that shows your company's personality. Snap a pic of the staff doing something that makes a fun statement about your company culture while also showing appreciation for your social following. Holding a homemade "thank you" sign is a great place to start, but feel free to let your creative minds wander!
Give away a little swag. A useful item such as a water bottle, USB drive, or even a t-shirt branded with your logo makes a lovely little gift for all of your fans, and it gives your brand more exposure. This might not be economical if you have thousands of followers, but it's not a bad idea if you want to give your small following a little token of your appreciation. You could do it unexpectedly (We've reached 500 likes! To celebrate we're giving you all __________.), and give your fans the option of electronically "claiming their prize" through an online form.
Offer something exclusive. Whether it's a discount off of your services, a special coupon to redeem in exchange for a prize, or an invite to the company picnic, make your fans feel special. While you're at it, you'll inevitably pick up a few more followers who want to get in on the action. 
How do you show your social followings a little love?

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About the Author
Christine Geraci is the Social Media/Promotions Specialist at MVP Health Care in Schenectady, NY. Connect with her on Twitter @christinegeraci.
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