How to en­sure so­cial me­dia doesn’t turn your cus­tomers off your loy­alty pro­gramme

Sanjit Gill ex­plains the im­por­tance of in­te­grat­ing loy­alty into so­cial me­dia strate­gies

Gulf Business - - CONTENTS - SANJIT GILL

As most re­tail­ers know, so­cial me­dia is in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant for brands. Whether en­cour­ag­ing cus­tomers to make rec­om­men­da­tions to their friends, be­ing part of the global con­ver­sa­tion, or pro­vid­ing high qual­ity cus­tomer care, so­cial me­dia has rev­o­lu­tionised the ways brands can com­mu­ni­cate with their key au­di­ences.

By now, all multi-lo­ca­tion re­tail­ers should have a co­her­ent and ef­fec­tive so­cial me­dia strat­egy of some kind. This might be quite ba­sic or very ex­ten­sive, de­pend­ing on the au­di­ences the brand wants to reach. Younger shop­pers, for ex­am­ple, are more likely to use so­cial me­dia to seek rec­om­men­da­tions, while older shop­pers are more likely to use the plat­form as a means of get­ting cus­tomer as­sis­tance.

What many brands may not have prop­erly con­sid­ered, how­ever, is how their so­cial me­dia strat­egy should in­ter­act with their strat­egy to build loy­alty with their cus­tomers.

Brands need to avoid the pit­fall of think­ing of loy­alty – and by ex­ten­sion their loy­alty pro­gramme – as some­thing com­pletely sep­a­rate from the con­ver­sa­tions they are hav­ing on so­cial me­dia. Af­ter all, both are ways of in­ter­act­ing with cus­tomers while build­ing strong and last­ing re­la­tion­ships.

So­cial me­dia also needs to be fully in­te­grated into all the ways that peo­ple want to shop and in­ter­act with re­tail­ers. Cus­tomers want to be able to con­nect with their brands on so­cial me­dia in a sim­i­lar way that they would in-store. It should be a seam­less ex­pe­ri­ence, with the so­cial me­dia cus­tomer care agent able to quickly ac­cess im­por­tant data that can help to re­solve cus­tomer ser­vice com­plaints, or make rec­om­men­da­tions based on what they’ve been look­ing at in the past.

This should of course cover loy­alty pro­grammes too. If some­one has provided their per­sonal data and cho­sen to in­ter­act more with the brand as a con­se­quence, it’s just rude to treat them like a stranger. So­cial me­dia teams should be able to draw from data col­lected with their loy­alty pro­gramme, so each cus­tomer or brand ad­vo­cate is spo­ken to in a tai­lored way that recog­nises their shared his­tory to­gether.

By in­te­grat­ing loy­alty pro­grammes with so­cial ac­counts on Twit­ter, Face­book, In­sta­gram or Snapchat, brands can also learn so much more about their cus­tomers and en­sure that they are de­liv­er­ing the re­wards that they re­ally want. Af­ter all, re­wards are a great way to build re­la­tion­ships with cus­tomers and en­cour­age be­hav­iour, whether it’s mak­ing an­other pur­chase or vis­it­ing a brand’s stores more reg­u­larly.

Re­wards are much more ef­fec­tive if they’re tar­geted at those who will en­joy them the most. So if some­one has said that a par­tic­u­lar de­signer ex­cites them, why not in­vite them to the open­ing of their lat­est col­lec­tion? So­cial is just one more way for brands to en­sure they are prop­erly iden­ti­fy­ing cus­tomers and us­ing per­sonal data to de­liver tai­lored re­wards.

Of course, the ques­tion still re­mains as to whether most shop­pers are happy to let brands have ac­cess to their so­cial me­dia ac­counts, or are com­fort­able with the idea of them lis­ten­ing to ev­ery­thing they say. Broadly speak­ing, most shop­pers are happy for brands to lis­ten, so long as they use that in­for­ma­tion to bet­ter their ex­pe­ri­ences. Data from so­cial needs to be used wisely and de­ployed in a way that re­ally adds some­thing pos­i­tive for the shop­per.

Equally, wider so­cial me­dia cam­paigns need to be de­signed to avoid frus­trat­ing the best cus­tomers. Af­ter all, if you’re one of the brand’s most loyal cus­tomers, you’ll want to see marketing mes­sages on so­cial that are use­ful to you and re­flect the loy­alty you have given the brand. If you make a pur­chase every week and in­ter­act with the brand reg­u­larly, the last thing you’ll want is to see marketing mes­sages that treat you like any other new and un­known cus­tomer.

No one ever wants to feel as if they’re be­ing taken for granted, and this ex­tends to so­cial me­dia as much as it does in-store. It’s also un­for­giv­able given the highly so­phis­ti­cated tar­get­ing that can be achieved by brands on the most pop­u­lar so­cial me­dia plat­forms.

So­cial is an in­cred­i­bly pow­er­ful tool, but brands need to avoid let­ting marketing take full con­trol of th­ese plat­forms. They should be an in­te­gral part of the way that brands de­liver their loy­alty pro­grammes and de­part­ments must make sure they’re com­mu­ni­cated ef­fec­tively to de­liver the seam­less and high qual­ity ex­pe­ri­ences that cus­tomers re­ally want.

Get this right and brands can build last­ing and de­voted re­la­tion­ships, both on­line and off. Sanjit Gill is gen­eral man­ager at loy­alty agency ICLP

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