Spreading the love: How random acts of kindness can better connect brands and consumers

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A kind gesture, a random act of kindness, a good deed, all are defined as; a selfless act performed by someone who wants to help or cheer up another person.

In 2015 it’s become something of a marketing trend, and as a concept now used by many, it’s changing the way people see and interact with brands. It's all about spreading the love.

These popular ‘movements’ even have their own mark in our calendars, with Random Acts of Kindness Day occurring on 17 February 2016 and National Good Deed Day taking place on April 11 2016, there’s even a Pay It Forward Day and soon to be a World Kindness Day.

With brands focusing largely on customer experience, and consumers craving a realness in the brands they use and engage with, it’s not a shock that this is now a popular marketing tactic. For brands it’s a way of showing not just saying, and we all know actions speak louder than words.

Social media has made it possible to tap into people’s movements and actions and with more people now publicly and knowingly disclosing information about their daily lives, feelings and whereabouts, all this personal information increasingly enables brands to actually know what’s happening in consumer’s lives.

Those using social media as a tool to monitor and react to their customers can, and are, increasingly planning promotional activity around the concept of good deeds, using social platforms and experiential marketing techniques as the forums in which to execute it. After all, it’s the ‘acts’ in acts of kindness that’s so important.

At Do It Day (Monday 2 November) the Metro, in association with Asda, provided a platform online where people could share their good deeds through the hashtag #GoodDeed on Twitter, amplifying one of the newspaper's most popular features - the Good Deed Feed. Divided by region through the hashtag, it built an online brand community which showcased kindness across the country, ultimately crowning the South East as the ‘kindest’ region in the UK.

Social and experiential have a natural relationship, with constant social diarists, the photo capturers and sharers, but for this concept in particular – why? Because it’s the live environment in which true experiential activity provides that creates that buzz of the surprise, the happiness, that moment of response, the live emotions, the real reactions.

Many other brands have promoted themselves or their products in this way. One of the earliest examples was Interflora’s Twitter campaign, when it cheered up people who were complaining about having a bad day on social media by then surprising them with a bunch of flowers. It’s also proved particularly popular with airlines, including KLM, Virgin Atlantic USA and Spanair, and creating their own campaigns to surprise travellers in airports with gifts.

Coca-Cola launched their Happiness campaign with the Happiness-machine, and has now embarked on a campaign celebrating those who share positive power within their communities. There’s also Asda who started #cakemyday, where consumers and store staff were rewarded a cake when spotted doing a good deed. All of these combine the use of social and experiential marketing.

To get it right however, it must be authentic and non-intrusive, brands that over do it will not get the genuine consumer response they are after. After all, acts of kindness should be done with the expectation that you will receive nothing in return.

Jo Curtis is co-founder of brand experience and live events specialist Jackanory, you can follow her on Twitter @jojojo_curtis.

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