Loyalty evokes a strong sense of emotion in human beings and is one of the pillars that support successful relationships. Business relationships between brand and customer are no different. When a consumer feels loyalty to a particular brand or product, they tend to stay lifelong supporters and champions of the brand. They promote the product to their peers and continue to look forward to and purchase newer models, editions, etc.
Since its evolution and subsequent adoption, social media has changed the way businesses interact with their customer’s and audience. This new dynamic has created a unique opportunity for businesses to connect and build brand loyalty with their customers. Because of its simplicity combined with immediacy, social media is an ideal way to reach out to or talk about a particular brand, product, or service. It has also paved the way for businesses to create a two-way dialogue as they can now directly connect with their audience and customers in a very personal and timely way.
Successful businesses have recognized the direct link between social media and building brand loyalty. The two-way communication allows for the two seemingly separate entities to connect and build relationships that scratch deeper than the surface. And because of the volume of people that social media can reach, it increases the chances of developing and cultivating new loyalties.
So how can a business build brand loyalty using social media?
Build the relationship
There are two parts to this piece – the audience and the business. These are the two entities that engage in a relationship. And like every relationship, the strongest ones survive when the sense of loyalty is not only present, but also a major part of the foundation. Not only should the customer feel loyal to the brand, the brand should also feel loyal to its customer.
This means that the brand stays true to who it says it is and continues to develop in a way that is in line with their branding, messaging, and mission statement. In turn, there are many customers who only purchase products made by their favorite brands because they believe and trust in the brand. These lifetime users are more likely to recommend the brand to friends and speak highly about the brand on their social channels. Some brands with exemplary loyalty are: Apple, Amazon, and Honda.
Take advantage of online channels
Word of mouth is now the most popular form of advertisement and it’s no doubt that social media helps contribute to its popularity. People are constantly talking about what they have, want, or need on their social networks. Before consumers make the decision to purchase they often check online to read reviews from peers or see how people are reacting to the product or service.
Smart, social media savvy brands take advantage of the honest, unfiltered feedback from online users and use these platforms to their benefit. Brands can reach out to those who are positively advocating their products and thank them for their support or offer a discount. These small gestures will go a long way in building customer loyalty. And because sometimes a customer may have a negative experience with your product or service, when a customer does reach out to voice their displeasure, it’s important to react quickly. Customers know that sometimes things can go wrong, and they’re usually willing to forgive it if you can rectify the situation in a timely way. What they won’t forget is when a company does not bother respond to their complaint or responds too late. Your timely response can often times be the deciding factor in turning a detractor into an advocate. Social media is an easy channel for customers to reach out and, in turn, your company to respond.
What are you waiting for? There’s no better time than now to start building and cultivating a relationship with your customers. 1-800 numbers and email correspondence are no longer the only way for brands and consumers to connect. Social media allows for brands to quickly and easily directly engage with their audiences proactively. Whether you’re reaching out to a brand new customer or a lifelong advocate, the key to maintaining a successful relationship is staying engaged. Just like any other relationship, there needs to be communication between the two parties.
While it may seem like a no-brainer that companies would want to build brand loyalty, not all brands are taking advantage of the ways social media can help them achieve this. Social media provides businesses with all the tools they need in building loyalty online – the players, the outlets, and the means. Take the time to follow these simple steps and start building and cultivating online brand loyalty today.
Image credit: Thomas Hawk