New customer relationships start out strong, don’t they? You work hard to woo a new consumer with special offers, coupons and promotions. But inevitably the spark dies down and before long there’s another brand out there trying to sweep your prospective loyalists off their feet.
This Valentine’s Day, work to keep the brand love alive with 10 pieces of relationship advice that will keep any customer engaged.
1. Mind Your Manners
Sometimes we forget that social platforms are just another way to communicate with customers, potential customers, partners, vendors and brand advocates. Speak on social as you would if you were face to face with any of of these people. Remember to be polite, kind and gracious.
2. A Little Acknowledgement Goes a Long Way
Sometimes consumers will Tweet, comment or call your customer service department with a hint of trouble. Even if you need time to figure out a solution or find an appropriate response, it’s important to acknowledge these customers and their concerns. Let them know they’ve been heard, that what they have to say is important and that you’re working on finding them an answer.
The same level of acknowledgment should be applied to compliments. Say thank you when someone leaves you a rave review, shares or Retweets your content. A quick shout out goes a long way in making your customers feel appreciated. The best way to keep a pulse on who’s talking about your brand? Use a social media dashboard that can keep you apprised so that you can respond quickly.
3. Speak Up
Good communication is the heart of every great relationship. Talk with your customers one on one, wherever they are whether that be on social, in store or via email. Ask them for their opinions, find out what they need and offer relevant advice they can use–even if it doesn’t sell a product. In the long run, transparent communication will gain your brand more trust with its audience and that’s what will garner a stronger bottom line.
4. Be Authentic
Your brand has an identity. It’s made up of the products or services it sells, its customers and its audience. Don’t try to make your brand something it’s not. If your brand is known for being elegant, don’t use a gruff voice on Facebook just because your customer does. Stay true to who and what your brand is with the visuals you use, the style of writing you publish and the tone of voice you apply across all platforms.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Try Something New
Change can be worrisome but even “dated” brands can spice things up by kicking off a promotion they’ve never tried before. Maybe that means branching out to a new social platform where you know your audience lives. Maybe it means running a sweepstakes for the first time or taking part in a Twitter Chat. Regardless of what new tactic you try, you might discover a new audience or demographic of brand advocate. And, is that so scary?
6. Remember Special Occasions
Oftentimes brands will ask consumers to provide personal information about themselves such as a birthday or address. If you take the time to ask for that information, take the time to use it in a way that benefits your consumers. Acknowledge the day a customer signed up for your loyalty club by sending an anniversary card or special offer. Remember birthdays with a personalized e-card. Sometimes the small, unexpected tokens of appreciation mean the most. If you have a large consumer database, an automated email platform can be a lifesaver.
7. Don’t Brag
Ever been on a first date with someone who talked about themselves all evening? No one wants to hear someone talk about how great they are or why you need them. If you want your audience to pay attention to your brand, make sure the messages it’s sharing are valuable and relevant to the audience it’s addressing.
8. Be a Good Listener
Listen to what consumers have to say about your products. Pay special attention to how they talk to your brand. Constantly sharing great advice is great but sometimes your consumers want to lead the conversation. In these instances, your brand just needs to listen.
So while you’re Tweeting clever comments and sharing links to your latest blog posts, remember to take the time to stop and listen to what your audience is saying. Who knows, you might get a few product ideas if you’re paying close enough attention!
9. Send Little Gifts
Way back when, Cracker Jack had the great idea to add a little something special to its boxes of caramel-coated popcorn and peanuts. Clinique followed with a free gift with purchase. In 2012, Kleenex offered consumers the ability to send someone they love a free get well kit during flu season. These brands were on to something. Sending little gifts is a great way to show your love and appreciation.
10. Have Fun
Ever hear of The Levity Effect? It’s the notion that employees who are able to have a little fun and laugh at work are more successful. Your organization can benefit from highlighting its moments of levity. When your brand has an opportunity to capture joy, make sure it’s sharing those moments on social with its customers and prospective employees.
This Valentine’s Day and every day it’s important for your brand to remember that all relationships take work. The connections your brand has with its customers–whether they’re long-time loyalists, or brand new, is no exception. Remember that a little attention goes a long way.
Beth Wood: Award-winning writer and marketer, content strategist, social media junkie, author and mom of three. Lover of square-cut pizza and short stories.