According to Trend Watching the #1 crucial consumer trend for 2011 is random acts of kindness. According to the website, some businesses are watching their Twitter and other social feeds for consumers who are needing a little pick-me-up and responding with something to help brighten their day.
One business cited in the article was Interflora in the UK. This company reads Twitter posts from its followers looking for a consumer to spread a little sunshine by way of a random act of kindness and a bouquet of flowers. Now, who wouldn’t immediately be brightened by an unexpected bouquet of flowers showing up at their door?
Do these companies really just want to brighten somebody’s day or is there something in it for them? Well, maybe they really do love to make an impact on an unknowing person’s day. There are, after all, humans behind every business. However, when you think of what happens after a person suddenly receives a big bunch or colorful flowers, the benefits to the company can be huge. I’m sure they tweet, update their status, tumble, blog and of course spread by word of mouth. Before you know it, this random act of kindness is all over at least one person’s social life – on and off line. Maybe their friends and followers will retweet, reblog, like and share to all of their friends. See the snowball effect?
This can, potentially, be huge for any business. It can also, potentially, be huge for the recipient of the random act of kindness. This is the part I like. The part about the human touch and paying it forward. The truly random act of kindness just for kindness’ sake. Imagine the possibilities.
Although it would be great to have a bouquet of flowers show up at the door totally unexpected, it would be even better if they were from someone you actually knew. Somebody, who for whatever reason, decided this morning that they were going to send three people they know a bouquet of flowers. Just because.
If those same three people, who would undoubtedly be amazed at receiving not only a bouquet of flowers, but to know they were thought about by someone they care about, decided to “pay it forward” and pick three of their friends to send flowers (chocolate, card, etc.) to, imagine, again, the possibilities.
Now imagine if 100 people read and respond to this article. Imagine if 75% (thats 75 people) decided to do something special for two of their friends. Thats 150 people who were shown a little kindness they didn’t expect. Lets say 75% of those 150 people (thats 125 people) decided to pay it forward and do something kind for two of their friends. Now we’re up to 250 people who are having a brighter day because of the kindness of someone. What if 75% of those 250 people not only paid it forward to two of their friends, but to at least one absolute stranger as well? The possibilities are endless. (by the way, if you haven’t seen the movie “Pay It Forward” I strongly recommend it.)
A random act of kindness does not need to involve money. Actually, I think the “free” act of kindness may be even more meaningful. A random act of kindness can be given to a friend, family member, coworker, colleague or a total stranger you happen across. It doesn’t need to be a life altering, earth shattering event either. It can be a simple warm cup of coffee or an extra coupon in the grocery checkout line.
Nearly every one of us is on some sort of social network like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Tumblr, Blogger, WordPress, LinkedIn. The list goes on and on. How many times a day do you see a post from someone that could use a little sunshine? Why not give it to them?
Here are some suggestions to help each and every one of us get started being better people and living in a better society through random acts of kindness.
1) Send a friend an online poem or ecard just because.
2) You know your coworker that tweets about Starbucks all the time? Bring her favorite carmel latte to work for her one morning.
3) Grab bagels for your office next Wednesday morning.
4) Slip $10.00 in the pocket of your teenage daughters coat when she’s not looking.
5) Leave a tip in your mailbox for your mailman.
6) Help your neighbor shovel snow. (better yet, do it for them before they get the chance).
7) Let somebody cut in line. (especially if they have small children)
8) Help an elderly person in or out a door. (or across the street)
9) Clean the kitchen and wash the dishes even if it isn’t “your turn” or “your job”.
9) Tell a manager that your waiter/waitress did an excellent job.
10) Post something nice and meaningful on a friend’s Facebook wall.
11) Babysit for someone for free so they can do their grocery shopping, Christmas shopping or just because.
12) Make an extra casserole and give it to someone you know.
13) Give your extra coupons to the person behind you in line.
14) Leave a copy of a book you’ve read on a train or bus.
15) Buy a bag of Hershey’s kisses and hand them out randomly.
Most of all, just be kind. Do something for someone without expecting anything in return. Lets all pay it forward.