How To Build Brand Loyalty Through Social Media
There was once upon a time when a branding image was built in the mind of customers through newspapers and TV advertisements. Yup, remember those? These days you need to be smarter in grabbing your audience’s attention through being memorable, authentic and, yes, that’s right. Social.
Nowadays, unless your brand is in an incredibly tight niche targeting a select few baby boomers who have yet to embrace (or refuse to) mobile, your interactions via Social Media are key to engage with your target audience and build brand loyalty.
Don’t judge a book by its cover
Just as many startups are disrupting age old industries from Slack and enterprise communication to Tesla and the automotive industry, so too are centuries old idioms being rewritten. So much so that the phrase ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ in the world of Social Media (which is, for many millennials, their first contact with a brand) just won’t cut it.
It cannot be understated how important a good social media profile is to a business. While content is king it is the looks which gain attention. You might not be able to judge a book by its cover but you can judge a brand by its social media presence or lack of it. It is no coincidence that HubSpot reported that 80% of marketing professionals claim their inbound website traffic increased thanks to their social media marketing strategy.
It is therefore vital to get your brand right from the tone of voice to the outward appearance on Social Media as it is the most viable and fastest way to connect with your consumer and is the most common and fluid brand extension you have available to you – no matter what business you are in there is a network that this message is valid for. It is important to show your brand identity through social media. According to some reports, as many 50 per cent of your audience who follow a business on social media prefer that brand to their competitors.
A well-done Social Media marketing campaign can engage and enliven existing customers while bringing you a new and highly targeted audience.
For your social media marketing campaigns to succeed however, you will have to be both organised about it but also creative and innovative to cut through the highly competitive noise. Indeed, the Internet in general is saturated with information and social media network accounts are now counted in the billions worldwide.
But don’t worry, we are here to guide you along the way and give you the most relevant steps to follow, no matter your business niche.
Build a clever social media strategy
It goes without saying, but companies who use social media marketing well to communicate with their customers are more successful. And the gap between those who know how to use social networks and those who don’t grows wider by the minute.
It should all start with a strategy.
No matter how much or how little time you have to plan your social media activity and marketing campaigns (whether paid or organic) a plan is always better than a spaghetti approach to marketing. This is one occasion where an old adage is appropriate – “fail to plan = plan to fail”
To make your social media marketing strategy successful, you will need to focus on where your audience is and what your goals are in order to gain better return on investment.
It might seem easier said than done but this plan will help to put you on the right track.
Start by asking yourself ‘why?’ Why do you want to have your business represented on social media? It is not simply a case of answering ‘because everyone is on it’ or ‘because my competitors are’. Understand your current business situation and know what you are aiming for.
Okay, so it’s a bit of a paradox because really you must have a business Social Media profile – there is no real choice in the matter – but by knowing your audience you can better understand your Social Media needs – customers, brand growth, awareness – and identify the best Social Media channels for your purpose and your resources.
If you first need to understand who your audience is, defining your customer persona is the key first step. You can then take this forward and establish what they are looking for from Social Media. You can even conduct additional market research by looking for in your brand and what they aim to get out of Social Media.
You can then set up your strategy according to your business goals. For example:
Then, you will need to monitor and measure your results.
If you aim for brand awareness: Measure growth, engagement, sharability, likes and subscribes.
If you aim for sales: Count your click rates, social e-commerce sales and conversion rates.
If you aim for brand loyalty: Monitor your engagement, sentiment and influence.
For startups and new businesses you can even measure these for free with an array of online tools at your disposal :
Some measuring tools:
Once you have a fairly good idea of what you are aiming for, it is recommended to put a plan in place to ensure that goals are met and your team or yourself are working towards to reach them.
The ‘4 w’s’ are a good way to begin to formulate this plan.
Who? Identify who is going to look after the social media marketing plan.
Why? Refer to your personas – and assess what your Social Media goals are.
Where? Identify the social networks that you will be using.
When? Identify the best posting times and days where your audience is the most likely to be actively engaging with you.
The next step would be to set your Social Media in motion and establishing a Social Media editorial calendar is vital in ensuring your posts gain the maximum exposure and engagement possible. This is vitally true when it comes to paid for Social Media campaigns that are supported organically and during highly publicised special events to gain extra promotion for your business
Furthermore, you will not only gain momentum with real-time posts at crucial times but also feel less overwhelmed with the task by having everything carefully organised and scheduled without losing content quality.
If you do not have the resources to allow someone to manage your Social Media channels in real time then establishing a calendar is a must to ensure you make the most of your Social Media activities.
So, where do you get started with the planning process? Here are a few tips to help you prepare your content calendar:
Find out what content gets your audience’s attention by analysing the results of your surveys as well as any past social media posts that performed particularly well. For this, all you have to do is understand how to use each social platform and check your analytics.
For Facebook, you would check your fan page insights.
For Twitter, you would use the in-built Twitter Analytics.
For Instagram, you can use a free independent platform such as Squarelovin.
For LinkedIn, you may use the Social Selling Index.
Once you know what channel works best for you and what kind of content your audience reacts to, you can start planning the posting times and frequency.
Once you have your plan in place, it’s time to find relevant and inspiring content that can add value to your business.
Curate content and share it
Curating content is an ideal way to not only ensure there is regular content in your Social Media channels but to expand your business’ standing within its particular given industry niche. By actively sharing quality content you show your audience that you are aware of market trends and show other influencers that you are aware of their activities.
Of course, you can always boost your own position as an influencer by actively encouraging and participating in industry conversations. Comment on posts positively and have something new to say.
You can use these few content aggregators to help you source quality content:
Once you have made your mind on what to post, when and in what kind of format (eBooks, webinars, videos, pictures, text…), you can start implementing a marketing strategy by creating a scheduling calendar in Google Calendar or other project management tools. It is wise to share a range of different content types to provide a varied stream to your audience. Of course, it will depend on both your audience and the channels used with what content to stream. But whether you are curating and sharing others’ content or creating and repurposing your own content you will quickly be able to develop a clear voice and reach across your Social Media channels.
One quick tip to remember is to ensure that you integrate your social media links in all your email signatures and on physical business cards to let clients and new prospects alike know you have an active Social Media presence.
You may also consider guest blogging for others and add at the bottom of your articles your picture and your biography. This will give you more credibility and build your authority in your relevant industry field.
Write engaging and story-telling posts
When you start writing your own content or using part of the curated content you as a basis to expand your own points, you must think creatively, in order to engage with consumers and cut through the crowded online space. What consumers look for are stories that steer emotions, bring excitement and make them feel connected to your brand. Be real and authentic and true to your brand. This handy blogger’s guide will help you tell stories that win hearts and minds.
Choose your own style
It cannot be stressed enough that to be successful on Social Media as a brand and as an influencer you must find your own voice and be authentic. Even when scheduling content you must keep in mind that the over-usage of scheduling may make your content look robotic instead of human. Followers want to interact with real people, not bots or automated content. If you can only spend a limited time on Social Media it is best to stick to one or two channels and be a voice that is true to your brand.
Whether you decide to schedule your own content or not, make sure your brand voice is heard in your posts by bringing your personal touch to your messages. Don’t just post robotically or automatically or if you are using an automated content generator like Quuu don’t forget that you can still influence that content by logging into Buffer and adding some personalisation.
In other words, you need to choose a tone that will represent your company and its values. This guide will help you find your social media marketing voice.
Respond to your customers
Once you have determined your unique tone of voice (which should reflect your brand as a whole – it isn’t wise to be a different face on Social Media than in your bricks and mortar, or regular online establishment), you will need to go out of your way to make sure you interact with your customers by replying respectfully to their comments, complaints, feedbacks and concerns.
Social Media is always on and you need to take heed of that by respecting your audience’s time in respect to your replies.
If the requests are general, you may reply publicly. If they are providing useful feedback to improve the customer experience or your company’s processes, you may even consider implementing them if they are within your budget. In any cases, always show consideration towards clients, customers or followers giving you feedback and never forget to give kudos points when they’re due.
However, if your customers have concerns specific to their account/order, for privacy and security reasons you will need to ask them to send you private messages.
Find your influencers and create a community feeling
There are many ways to create a sense of community with your followers and we’ll go over a few of them now.
First of all, it is a must to identify the influencers for your specific industry and especially those who interact the most with your content by monitoring conversations on social media related to your industry.
If you are using Twitter, you may use tools like Followerwonk to find who your influencers are. Once you have found them, you can add them to a specific Twitter List and ensure to reach out to and interact with them on a regular basis.
On Instagram, you can either search for influencers by tracking conversations through hashtags or use your current followers to find influencers they are interacting with.
On Facebook, you may use something like Brandwatch to find your influencers and start commenting on their posts. You may as well join Facebook Groups to exchange ideas and tips with group members and establish yourself as an influencer in your own right.
Beyond Social Media you can consider tools such as Boardreader which will help you find your influencers in forums and discussion boards. You can then join the discussions.
Take the time to answer questions relative to your industry on Quora when you get the chance too and link to your content or website where relevant for a social SEO boost that doesn’t take up too much time.
One more tool you may consider using is Traackr. The tool will help you find influencers for your brand, campaign, or niche. The tool can provide contact and publishing details of influencers so it’s a decent all-rounder to have in your locker.
An important point to remember is that you should never overdo it. While the growth of your business will inevitably be your main focus (though, we hope, not to the detriment of your brand) you can run a small team thin by trying to implement every Social Media suggestion. The best words of advice would be to do what is right for your business, do what fits, do what your team can handle and expand when you can. But it is important not to do anything piecemeal. If you are invested in content marketing, then go for it. If you have committed to Twitter then tweet multiple times a day, the worst social strategy are the ones that are not regular.
When you do go and engage with customers on social media, remember that it’s not about you. The same goes for other aspects of branding, such as your name and building your team. So when it comes to Social Media, do not try to sell yourself at the first conversation you have with potential prospects. Instead, get to know them and let them know what you do, so they know about you when they need your service, or can recommend you to a friend or colleague.
Also, your customers will appreciate if occasionally you share their content, while tagging them in it of course! There are many ways to inspire brand loyalty by including your customers and making them really feel part of your brand and claim a tangible sense of ownership. These can come in form of social media contests, use cases or user success stories as well as more ‘traditional’ rewards or giveaways. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to run a simple contests that will also help to build your follower list.
All of these recommendations have been organic but you may obviously also consider using paid social media advertising such as Facebook Ads, although every Social Media platform eventually adopts a paid-for ad system. Paid advertising on Social Media can allow you to target a wider audience than organically alone and often increase your impact even on a limited budget.
We have found that nailing your strategy and seeing what works best for your brand can be done organically first before investing in campaigns and other Social Advertising. That way, when you are ready to advertise, you are not simply throwing spaghetti at a wall but are focused and targeted. Specific campaigns can be augmented by these organic tactics and provide you with greater impact and brand growth.
- Test, measure and analyse your results
Once you’ve done all that work, the fun part really begins!
You will need to begin and continually test what works and what doesn’t across all channels for your brand. As previously mentioned, there are a number of both free and paid-for tools that you can use to check your Social analytics.
It cannot be stressed enough however that it is important to establish the right kind of goals and criteria for what matters to your business. Some general data benchmarks that are always worthwhile to measure are:
Once you have dip-dived into your results, tweak your posts and make sure you keep a mix of different content types in your schedule at any one time, so that your audience feels excited about your brand.
You can narrow down further into analytics and assess further criteria that will help your business and brand goals from the right times to post the right type of content, your own personal sweet spot for blog length, when and how often to send out your newsletter, whether you are a weekend-orientated business or not…you get the point.
Use analytics to make the most out of Social Media for your brand but again, don’t get bogged down in it, if you do not have the resources. By establishing clear goals and criteria, Social Media can be a real driver of both brand and business growth.
Do not, however, focus solely on numbers as quality matters as much as quantity. That’s why personas are so important at every stage of marketing.
Use analytics to your advantage and you will be able to invest that knowledge into your brand to great benefit.
Whatever you do, keep your content as informative, human, engaging and entertaining as you can by bringing creativity and variety to it. Whether you can invest just a few minutes a day to Social Media or can commit greater resources to your efforts establishing a clear, actionable and accountable Social Media strategy will enable your brand growth to accompany your business growth.
Finding a real voice on Social Media and harnessing its potential reach and influence for your own brand in an organic and authentic way can help fledgling businesses and startups gain a foothold and more establish businesses to really grow and thrive.
Even if you are approaching Social Media from a standing start. with time and perseverance, you’ll build a loyal customer base.
So now it’s over to you! We hope that you have learned how to build brand loyalty through Social Media and we also hope that you use Social Media as part of a wider brand strategy. Let us know too if you discover new growth hacks that worked for you.
Let’s build better brands!Tags: Audience Building, Brand Building, Brand Growth, Brand loyalty, Brand Strategy, Customer Engagement, Social Media, Social Media Strategy