Building customer loyalty through social media
When ‘social media’ first emerged, it was largely viewed as a way to build brand exposure. There is no doubt that social media sites offer tremendous opportunity in terms of marketing, but focusing a social media strategy solely on marketing can be somewhat limiting. Social media is actually far more powerful and it’s an effective way to build customer loyalty as it creates the perfect environment for brands to communicate directly with their consumers, to interact, engage and form a bond that can result in brand loyalty.
Savvy marketers have long been well aware that taking the time to build customer loyalty is one of the best long-term investments that they can make for their business. From creating brand advocates which can help increase social reach, protect online reputation and boost sales through referrals – to establishing relationships that can help a business increase its brand recognition, the value of creating a passionate customer base is huge.
According to research carried out by governmental statistics services in Cyprus, 67% of the people who use the Internet are connected to social media networks. Further research suggests that 70% visit social networks every day and spend more than 30 minutes per visit. With this nearly-constant online engagement, opportunities to establish brand loyalty are virtually endless – but an effective social media strategy is key.
As companies design their social media programmes, they need to carefully consider how they can create a social media experience that is unique to their brand, offers customers value and exploits the power of the social communities.
Companies should therefore consider the following to lay the foundation for a successful social media programme that will help them encourage customer loyalty among users on social media.
Today’s social consumer is much more empowered, and often feels entitled. In fact, according to Forbes, 50% of all Facebook users and 80% of Twitter users address an inquiry to a company via social media and expect customer support in 24 hours or less. Social media is the perfect outlet to build a significant customer service experience due to its immediacy and cost efficiency.
When an issue arises on social media, acknowledge it and address it as quickly as possible. Be honest, don’t over promise and under deliver. Use tools like Hootsuite and SocialBro to track your social media tags and mentions, sort your positive and negative feedback and really understand how your company is doing. Take the extra step to go above and beyond and achieve the best customer service possible because it really pays off. Providing support builds up loyal brand advocates ready to spread the positive word about the brand, influence other users through positive reviews and increase brand awareness through sharing.
Selfies aside, no one wants to see inside pictures of your headquarters…unless you’re the CIA. So, if your social media channels are filled with pictures of employees at cubicles just know that’s like watching paint dry. Embed social media posts from fans that have shared your content or said something great about your brand to their followers. Put them in the spotlight and let them know how much you appreciate them. Once they see the reciprocity, they’ll make your brand a priority and become one of your most valuable marketing assets. No one does this better than Coca-Cola. From asking customers to post pictures of their favourite Coke bottles to asking them to update on the Facebook page their favourite Coke moment, Coca-Cola is hands down the social media customer loyalty king.
Customers like to know that their opinions are valued. Let them know that you respect what they have to say by encouraging them to review your services and products on your social media accounts. Review customer feedback regularly and integrate it into your brand activities. Doing so will strengthen engagement with the brand and will build valuable relationships. Starbucks accomplished this with “My Starbucks Idea” campaign, where fans can provide ideas and recommendations that can better their experience.
Remember, value comes not from the social media platform itself but from how a particular platform it’s used. Take the time to follow these simple steps and start building online customer loyalty today.