Social media has revolutionized the relationship between businesses and its customers.It’s no longer about products and services, but about the people. It’s no longer about profit and loss, but about customer satisfaction and retention. And it’s no longer about competitors but about meaningful content and effective marketing. Everything is centered on the, ‘like’ and, ‘share’ buttons that customers are smart to know when to click and when to dismiss. So all the brand wars, all the money, all the attention that we see is just to get that one single like and share – because those two buttons determine brand loyalty!
Simplistic view eh? Not so much. Here’s what you should know about social media and its impact on brand loyalty. But before that, let’s understand what is brand loyalty in today’s digital age.
Brand Loyalty in the Modern World
Content. Communication. Smart marketing – the three core factors that determine brand loyalty in today’s age. Prior to the digital age, brand loyalty was formed over years of providing excellent service or products. In today’s modern world though, it’s not just about products or services; rather it’s about the people. Keep the people happy and you will enjoy brand loyalty.
Your business needs to have amazing content that can create on the newsfeed of a customer. A quote, a joke, a video; anything that can make people feel good. Communicate with your audience. Hear their complains, discuss solutions with them and deliver transparent and effective communication. Lastly, employ a range of diverse marketing tools to get and to keep their attention.
How Does Social Media Impact Brand Loyalty?
The way it works. Social media allows businesses and customers to have one on one communication that is cheap, effective and engaging. A single tweet for example is powerful in many ways; it can talk of a business launch, it can provide feedback, it can offer an apology, it can make a claim, it can make a customer smile or it can make a customer furious. 140 words can make or break your business – that is the power of social media. Thus the very nature of social media makes it possible for a business to either turn into a brand or into foregone history.
How Can Your Business Use Social Media to Create Brand Loyalty?
The first step to achieving brand loyalty is creating brand following. How you position yourself in the market, your ethical or corporate values, the importance you give to your audience and the services you provide them on social networks play a fundamental role in creating brand loyalty. If you want to develop a brand out of your business, you need to follow the process of developing trust and reliability. Here are a few things you can start to do if you want to use social media to create brand loyalty:
Go Beyond Getting Likes and Shares
Most companies don’t take the process of creating brand following seriously. They believe getting the social pie is all about posting amazing content or spending thousands on ads. They believe that the likes, the shares or the click-through matters most and everything else is on second priority. This direct approach will drill a hole in your pocket and will still not achieve its purpose. You need to create content that talks less about your business and more about people. You need to show your services as solutions to people’s real life problems because services and products only work when they solve problems or create opportunities.
So for example, if you own an e-commerce site selling wheat biscuits, you need to largely talk about weight issues, diet problems, general well-being etc. And then you associate your product or service to each of these issues. Call this shooting at two birds at a time if you want, but that’s how you generate great content and get a brand following.
Understand the Potential, Function and Limitation of Each Network
Just because everyone uses Facebook to launch their business doesn’t mean you should use it too. Just because British Airways is popular on Twitter, doesn’t mean you follow its lead. To make social media work for your business, you must know your industry and where the audience is likely to be the most responsive. Once you know which network supports your industry better, start exploring the potential of the network. Can Facebook for example, deliver prompt customer service over Twitter? If your audience is primarily on Facebook, then how do you devise a system to make it work? You then start making effective use of Facebook Reviews (replying and responding to each review) or set-up a customer complaint number on the page.
Similarly, you also need to understand the limitations of the network. Twitter messages can only be 140 characters long. Can you deliver information this short without losing the importance of the message? Does advertising work as effectively on Twitter as it does on Facebook?
Another challenge is to separate networks that fall under the same model. So do you Instagram your pictures or Pinterest them? Do you tweet or do you Snapchat? These are questions that can only be answered if you know your customers, the social channels and the pros and cons associated with each of them.
Create Content that Goes Beyond Quotes and Graphs
The average user is inundated with content. Deloitte reports that on average, people in the United States across all age groups check their phones 46 times per day; which means that they are constantly bombarded with information. In the midst of such activity, how would your content stand out? Will a mere quote or a boring stat do the trick? No. Not if they offer no insight, no relevance to the target audience or no connectivity to the business service and products.
Your content needs to be smart and yet empathetic to the audience. But remember, it is not a day activity; it’s a consistent process that delivers results only if you choose to stay focused. Your brand message should focus around your business visions and goals. Your content calendar must match those intrinsic goals, as they will lead to extrinsic value.