I was chatting with the owner of a business the other day and I raised the subject of him using coupons or offers on his website. His response, "the only thing we can afford to offer is free hugs!". Jokes like that often start a chain reaction in my brain, which in this case has resulted in me writing this article.
I started thinking of the free hug in a broader concept. It's being nice to someone, without asking for anything in return. Then I realised I was already practicing "free hugs" as part of my business model.
I enjoy my work, and enjoy helping people out. I'd almost say that it's more important than making money (almost!). When I started this business I made a conscious decision that I would "give away the secrets". That is, I show people how to do what I do, so they can help themselves. I probably loose some business this way, but I'm happier and I hope those people I helped are also happier. In the long run I think I will get more business out of it through word of mouth from those people I am helping.
And this is a way I'm giving "free hugs", through free advice.
Then I realised I was also giving "free hugs" in many other ways, in an internet way.
I participate in many online forums, answering questions related to SEO and website development. It's a great feeling when someone says thanks!
I also tell people about businesses that I think are great (and sometimes ones that are not). Through comments, reviews, social bookmarking and of course liking them on Facebook. Each post I make is like giving them a free hug.
So why am I telling you this? Because I want to encourage more people to give internet "free hugs".
If you believe in "what goes around, comes around", you will not only feel better in yourself, you will find you start getting "free hugs" back. For a business, this could be in the form of improved reputation, sales or new clients.
Here's some ways you can give out your own internet "free hugs":
- Find a business you like in Google Maps and write a short review.
- If a business does something nice, post about it on Facebook with a link to their website.
- If you have a website, create a page that links to businesses you recommend.
- Many websites let you vote on businesses. Do it.
- Get into social bookmarking and list your favourite websites.
- Click on those like/share/buzz buttons when you've read a great article.
And don't forget to tell people about your good experiences with businesses, and not just those bad ones.