When describing FreshBooks, CEO, Mike McDerment, refers to them as the “leader in online invoicing. What we do is help professionals and their contractors save time, look professional and get paid faster when they invoice their clients and each other. “ Not exactly a business model one would normally associate with a fresh (no pun intended) and ingratiating online presence — but the team at FreshBooks have managed to find a way to connect with customers through social media in a deep (and some would say, near-legendary) way.
© Retrieved from Evans, Dave (2010). Social Media Marketing: The Next Generation of Business Engagement.
Novel Ways to Engage with Customers
Even though numbers are their game, the social team at FreshBooks wasn’t thinking in terms of stats for their engagement. They were approaching it from a qualitative perspective — building a quality community that didn’t just blindly retweet or share, but put themselves in the mix, showing an authenticity and delight that can gain far larger dividends than sheer numbers alone.
Social media scholars have studied one of the earliest examples of this approach for the past decade. The user, @chelpixie, had shared that she had been stood up for a date. Now, the online response of “we would never stand you up” was already a cute and charming way to show empathy and connection to the user.
But what they did was take it a step even further: they found that the user was a FreshBooks customer and the team took it upon themselves to send her flowers. They created a conversation with this action, creating the type of viral buzz that social media brand strives for – and they achieved it by going above and beyond for the customer. Not by being gimmicky. In the decade that’s passed, this type of gesture may not quite catch the world on fire as it once did, but heart of it still remains: in order to capture people’s share of wallet, you have to capture their attention and make them glad they gave it to you.
‘While we answer questions and do support and hold contests on Twitter, we really just see Twitter as another way to deepen relationships with our customers. The truth is, while we collect dollars for the service that we offer, the currency of our business is relationships. Twitter, our blog and our forums all help us share our culture with the world and learn more about our customers themselves and we like that.” -Mike McDerment, CEO
Booking a Quick Brew with Customers
The team at FreshBooks didn’t just stay behind their computer screens to engage with customers though. Another campaign they embarked upon was their #FreshBrew campaign. The team branded a food truck as FoodMobile and hand-delivered fresh coffee to entrepreneurs and small business owners in downtown Toronto. They way they would decide upon who would be lucky enough to receive a free brew, would be that they would monitor social media for people who expressed that they were stuck inside the office and unable to get out.
This campaign displayed that not only were they closely listening to what their audience was saying, they were acting on it in real time. Even though they’re not a coffee company, the association had been made and people knew that when they expressed themselves, FreshBooks was there to help out any way they can.
Lessons for Others
An Upfront Investment in Time and Attention Pays Off
FreshBooks proved that by listening to their customers and anticipating their needs and wants, they could create a loyal fanbase and an excited conversation — no matter the type of software offered. Moments of delight can have a huge impact, but it’s extremely important for the company to respond in a quick manner, otherwise that impact will be deadened. This deep understanding has been a part of what’s helped FreshBooks grow to have more than 10 million users in 120 countries—and counting.
Industry: Accounting Software
Name of Organization Contact: N/A
Authored by: Rick Andrade
If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.
McDerment, Mike (2009, April 21). FreshBooks as a Social Media Case Study. Retrieved from: //www.freshbooks.com/blog/freshbooks-as-a-social-media-case-study
Evans, Dave (2010). Social Media Marketing: The Next Generation of Business Engagement, Retrieved from: https://books.google.ca/books?id=7l2OR6giC6AC&pg=PT143&lpg=PT143&dq=freshbooks+social+media&source=bl&ots=jNFau1-OcS&sig=0eUq1VwPdhZJbSqj79yodQDLhHU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiP7O2ThZ_ZAhVo8IMKHTXJCjk4ChDoAQg6MAA#v=onepage&q=freshbooks%20social%20media&f=false