Ask any marketer who their ideal customer is, and most will tell you the same thing: a loyal one. This is because, as we all know, keeping customers is more cost-effective and efficient than finding new ones. However, the concept of brand loyalty is often difficult to pinpoint, much less cultivate. In order to achieve brand loyalty, one must first understand what it really means.
What is brand loyalty? Brand loyalty is partiality toward one particular business or product over a competitor. On social media, that loyal customer is more likely to comment, share, follow or post user-generated content to your brand’s profile over another. That behavior thereby extends your business’ reach and impact on social and beyond.
In the past, loyalty grew solely from a love of a product. While that still holds true in many cases, it is now a two-way street: A loyal customer expects something in return. Today, brand loyalty can be sparked, cultivated and maintained through smart social media engagement.
Like any social media strategy, to see a payoff, engagement takes time and effort. Being there–whether it is to answer questions or provide a friendly face for your brand–is important when you’re building lasting relationships with customers.
So how do you exactly build loyalty through social media? Below, I’ve outlined just a few ways you can get a foster a loyal customer base through social media engagement:
Create a VIP customer list
Rolling out the red carpet for certain customers might seem like an over-the-top idea. However, creating a VIP program with actual customers can help brand awareness. Not only do you demonstrate to those select customers that their opinions are valued by your business, but you show others you appreciate the above and beyond effort.
— Sarah Nagel (@sprout_sarah) September 30, 2016
Instead of thinking of them solely as amplification tools, your VIP customers can and should actually contribute to the conversation by posting as a guest on your blog or sharing content across all networks. These VIPs shouldn’t just be anyone. These are the customers who get every aspect of your business and showcase the utmost loyalty.
Rewards programs keep your best customers loyal and coming back. It doesn’t make much to show a little extra support to those who would battle the storm to see your company succeed. Trust us: They’re out there and want the recognition.
Use Twitter chats to create a community
Building brand loyalty all starts with conversation. Luckily, social media engagement requires the same thing. A great way to mix the two is through Twitter chats. There, you can connect other industry people, peers or the brand itself with others. They all have one thing in common: your brand. It is a great jumping-off point for conversation, but your chats should not revolve around you. Instead, bring in new topics based on current events or your VIPs interests.
When you offer an engaging and thoughtful topic, especially one your brand can sponsor, people will come back. People are constantly looking to connect with influencers and those in the industry besides sending friend requests. Twitter chats actually enhance conversation so those involved can cultivate real and impactful relationships.
Creating useful hubs for your enthusiasts, industry professionals and your brand can be a great spot to host. Your name will be associated with that space, which is only going to drive engagement with your brand.
Offer an easy route to reviews
In a report from BrightLocal, data showed that 88 percent of U.S. consumers read online reviews to make a decision about a business. This should show you just how critical online reviews can be to your brand. It’s too easy for consumers to find information on your business, and if there’s one bad experience, it could prevent others from coming through the door.
One of the best ways to tackle this issue is to take online reviews seriously and put effort into getting your best customers to showcase their experience. In fact, giving users an easy route to read and post their thoughts not only builds on brand loyalty, but it shines a positive light on your business.
— Chicago The Musical (@ChicagoMusical) September 28, 2016
Chicago The Musical does a great job of asking its followers to rank the show. More likely than not, the users following the account have been or are looking to go. The more reviews the show receives, the likelier a hesitant customer will convert.
Online reviews are all about getting your happiest customers to speak on your behalf. Whether it’s through a review, conference or speaking event, teaching customers to talk about your brand professionally has tremendous payoffs. If you have customers who truly enjoy your brand, teach them how to speak on your brand to better their professional career and word of mouth of your brand.
Pull back the curtain
Social media has the unique ability to pull back the curtain on your business operations. You’ll hear me say this 1,000 times, but humanizing your brand increases consumer trust. In fact, a report from NewsCred found that 69 percent of millennials believe brand recognition and trust are the most important aspects of brand loyalty.
This can be done by using social media to show your audience how things are made, who makes your products or causes your company supports. When you showcase what makes your brand unique, consumers tend to trust you more.
Many of the products we consume and use every day are connected via intermodal: a highly orchestrated and intricate transport system that connects rail, truck, and ocean freight. At #CSX’s Northwest Ohio Intermodal Terminal, @getransportation and the #IndustrialInternet are helping power the delivery of 2 million containers across 2,000 routes every year. Photo by @seenewphoto. #railfan #transportation
To give a glimpse into how our products are shipped across the nation, GE highlights aspects of its company others might not know about through Instagram. Showing detailed content about transportation systems and GE working together gives the viewer a better picture of how its product works.
Make them part of the story
Loyal customers aren’t just interested in your product: They’re interested in the broader impact you’re making. Therefore, you have to provide unique content that doesn’t talk about your brand, but instead speaks to the experience your customer has with it.
When you highlight how your customers use and enjoy your product, you further understand purchasing motivations and consumers see you as a real, customer-first business. EConsultancy discovered that 42 percent of businesses measure lifetime value of a customer. But what are you doing to improve it?
You have to build loyal tribes who will go above and beyond for your brand on social media. Even if it’s a simple share or like, getting followers to interact and become loyal to your brand can extend the lifetime value. Put social customer service first as more people engage with your business on social media.
This is why it’s so necessary to have a social media management tool to control, monitor and analyze your social efforts. With these tools, you can streamline your support workflow and better understand your customers. Brand loyalty is about listening to your customer and getting them involved with your brand. And having the ability to track, measure and organize your content can make all the difference between a fan and a loyal customer.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.