Do you have a friend that constantly gives? They’re always quick to say “yes” when you need a favor. They always think to invite you to parties. They cook more than enough food and make sure you take some home. They’ve used way too many of their Starbucks rewards buying your coffee. A friend like that has a nature of generosity. Those friends are the ones you hold on to, you stand up for, and are proud to know.
These are the types of relationships that organizations can be fostering online. We should be shaping our content so that generosity becomes a part of our online nature. If we can do it successfully, our followers will begin to know us as the organization that is always there for them, supporting them when they need it the most, and in turn, they won’t think twice about helping us when we finally do ask for something.
Choosing a generous online nature means we might have to change our expectations…
Your content should be helpful.
The content you create or curate should be helpful but not necessarily in the traditional sense. Helpful can mean providing a list of 10 things they can do to boost productivity, it can mean inspirational thoughts, words of encouragement, or it can even mean making them laugh.
It should cost YOU something.
When you choose a generous online nature, you’ll need to be OK with providing resources without any expectation of commitment (financial or otherwise). It will also mean that your personal interactions with followers should cost you time, energy, and you’ll even have some financial costs involved. Your team should be empowered to offer all three to your followers in a moments notice. Quick responses will leave a bigger positive impact on your followers, especially when they are in a time of need.
You’ll find a balance of giving and asking.
You shouldn’t stop asking, but you should find a balance of “giving” and “asking” in your content. In my experience, an organization that is known for having a generous nature could give 5-6 things before they ask for 1. This would help generate a more positive response for that 1 ask. However, this ratio will be different for every organization. If your followers have only known your organization to ask things of them without giving anything, you’ll have to make some tidal wave sized adjustments to help change their perspective. But maintaining this sort of balance will help you monitor the frequency of your “giving” and “asking” while also being able to track the growing success of your “asking” as you shift toward a more generous online nature.
It will take months of work.
Changing your online nature is not something that happens overnight. It’s a lot like someone working towards a healthier lifestyle. You don’t see much headway in the first few weeks, but it begins to snowball. Months go by and suddenly you can look back at old pictures of that person and celebrate with them over the changes. That’s how you’ll feel when you’re working to change your online nature to become more generous. It starts small and builds one conversation at a time. But before long, you’ll look back and see something completely different.
In reality, none of this will be easy and you’ll need your best people to work on it. But the relationships you’ll build and the loyalty you’ll begin to see with your customers, will change the way your organization looks. It will be worth it.