Surprise and Delight: Turning Followers into Super Fans

Imagine you tweet out a lament about breaking your favorite coffee mug, and the next thing you know, a local coffee company is shipping you a free mug, plus coffee samples.

You’re so astounded that they reached out to you personally that you thank them online and tell all your family, friends and co-workers about it. And next time you run out of coffee, you’re reaching for their brand on the grocery store shelf.

That’s the power of surprise and delight on social media. No, you can’t ship free products to everyone who posts about a broken coffee mug, but one gesture like this can have amazing ripple effects, creating a passionate, lifelong fan out of someone who was already vocal on social media.

Big brands like MasterCard and Bud Light are using the “surprise and delight” method with great success, but you don’t have to be a big brand to take advantage of this tactic. At Balcom, I use it for one of our cosmetic/pharma clients. Customers will visit the Facebook page to express the great results they’ve received from one product, and we’ll thank them by sending them a bottle of a related product. They get a free product, and we get to upsell them.

Or someone might message us asking for a sample, and we’ll send them a full-sized bottle. This builds a relationship with our customer. Relationships build trust. And trust drives revenue.


Keep in mind, this isn’t a promotion or contest – it’s selecting and recognizing a specific customer. The easiest way to execute that is with a reward or surprise. Before you begin, identify these four things:

1. Who are we trying to target?

  • What type of stories or content are we looking to reward? Is it people who talk about working hard, using your product, running out of your product?
  • How is this person connected to the brand? Are they already a fan, or do they use a competitor’s product?

2. How will we reach them?

  • Will we stick to one social media channel?
  • Do we have their contact information? Can we get it?

3. What will be their surprise?

  • How are we rewarding them? Product sample? Gift certificate?
  • What’s our budget? Make sure to include shipping and time for execution.

4. When will it be executed?

  • Is this an ongoing campaign or a one-time activation?
  • Who will own the process (e.g. social media manager, PR team)? Someone has to actually get it done – as in drive to the post office and ship the gift.

The “surprise and delight” method can fit any budget, with potentially incredible results. Want more clever social media strategies like this? Contact us.

Put our experts to work

Contact Us