We recently took our boys to the French Lick Resort. While there, we planned to ride The Polar Express. Looking forward to a fun holiday event, I planned to take lots of pictures.

While riding the elevator, I noticed a poster encouraging guests to use the hashtag #FLRHolidays while staying at the resort this winter. I love companies that do a good job of encouraging people to use social media through signage. So since I was taking photos anyway, I started posting them using the hashtag the brand had created.

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On a whim, I decided to follow the hashtag to see how many other people had already taken the cue. Surprisingly, I found I was the first to have done so. Realizing it’s still very early in the holiday season, I wasn’t that shocked. However, I sent out a tweet about how I loved being the only one to use the hashtag – and I was genuinely excited to see who might follow suit as the holiday season progressed.

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What happened next is pure social media awesomeness. The company tracked the hashtag from their @FrenchLickResor Twitter account – on a Saturday no less – and found my tweet. They responded positively to me, even though I’d pointed out that no one else had used it yet. Then they took it one step further and asked for my contact information to offer me something. I DM’d them with my email address and they quickly sent two emails. They offered our group a free pizza and bowling as a thank you for being the first to use their hashtag. Again, they managed this quickly and efficiently on a Saturday.

To say I was impressed and excited was an understatement. In fact, the whole group I was with was impressed by this act of customer service – they made us feel like they really wanted us to have a great time. More than that, many companies may have ignored my tweet or even responded in a defensive manner. Instead, the resort took this opportunity to thank me and make my experience amazing. This is another example of how social media can not only spread your brand but take customer service to the next level.

Are you encouraging your customers to use hashtags? If so, I’d love to hear your stories.

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