There’s a reason why some of the biggest brands dominate their industries—we’ve been exposed to these companies for ages. Brand loyalty doesn’t always relate to customer loyalty. At a young age, many of us are influenced by brands from friends and family. But it’s not until the early stages of adulthood when we decide to choose our own identities.
For the majority of Generation X, branding was delivered through television, newspapers, MTV and malls. Now, younger generations are exposed to brands at even earlier ages with the rise of the Internet and social media marketing. These avenues of advertising and branding set a higher bar of competition as more companies look for that one thing that could push their brand to the next level.
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Numerous businesses such as General Electric have begun to focus heavily on social media, which opened the flood gates for customer engagement and curiosity to what the company can do. Social media marketing is certainly for forward-thinking businesses, but adopting these social networks is never the easiest task.
On the flip side, social media is still significantly underused and put on the back burner by many organizations. Social media is a proven tool to help build brand recognition. But businesses need to be smart about networking their brand through social networks by fully understanding the value and purpose of brand loyalty and social media.
What Doors Do Social Media & Brand Loyalty Open?
No one ever said mastering social media marketing was easy. Once you’ve entered this realm of social networking, many consumers expect an open line of communication much like how users can reach friends, family members and other specific resources with a single message.
Did you know the majority of brands ignore seven in eight messages on social media? In the consumers’ eyes, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. As a company, you have to willingly participate on social media to engage with users and build a community for your brand loyalists to do some of the promoting themselves.
At the same time, you want to be timely about your responses. In fact, a Social Habit report discovered social media customers expect a direct response to a question or concern almost right away:
- 42% of respondents expect a response within an hour.
- 32% of respondents expect a response within 30 minutes.
For businesses, these expectations are staggering considering the volume of inquires some companies get each day. Once a brand pulls back the curtain on social media, it’s open season for addressing customer concerns, creating positive experiences and building better brand loyalists.
When you provide these needs, customers will move toward your brand. Essentially, your brand loyalty and social media strategies should be best friends. In today’s fast-moving world of immediate answers, you have to increase communication to get more customers using your product. To dive deeper into this theory, here are five ways social media impacts brand loyalty:
1. Use Social Media to Tell a Story
Nearly every successful social media marketer will explain if you want to increase brand loyalty, you have to look for creative ways to engage with consumers. Not only do you have to be available, but also you have to be an authoritative figure in the industry. ImagiBrand, a social media agency focusing on creative brand storytelling, puts it perfectly by saying consumers are always smarter than you think and you cannot assume your customers think you’re experts in the industry.
Instead, you have to prove to people that you’re an trustworthy figure in your market. This can be done through creative storytelling on social media.
Dick’s Sporting Goods does a masterful job of keeping its Instagram followers engaged with suspenseful content that tells a story. Your brand can also use social media to post enthralling content that promotes your product while keeping consumers’ attention.
On Twitter, you have the ability to continually update new “how-to” or instructional videos to your feed. Through a social media management platform, you can queue these posts to each appropriate social network so you deliver clickable content in layers without overwhelming your audience.
To continue with the Dick’s example, if you run a business that sells athletic apparel, don’t you want to appear as an industry expert on sports? You can’t just assume your consumers will connect the dots or believe in your brand on their own.
Instead, you can tell stories your audience will want to see whether it’s live-Tweeting major sports events or posting videos that creatively explain your brand with sports
2. User-Generated Content: Do You Have a Share to Spare?
Social media is unique in a way where you can actually get your audience to assist with building brand loyalty. What better way to keep your story going than to get your audience to share what you have to say? According to a recent report from Stack Commerce, in 2014, 53% of views on Facebook videos were specifically from shares.
Facebook stories are an important way for your customers to see your original content, but how do you know who you’re potentially reaching with your posts?
With more than 200 shares, Harley-Davidson is able to reach a larger audience on Facebook. These views are known as impressions and the data associated with the volume of your shared content is critical to your branding.
At Sprout Social, we provide detailed reports on each social network so you know just how far your brand’s roots extend. Try us for a free 30-day trial here!
And to keep your brand tree growing, take advantage of the user-created content world we live in. In 2014, user-created content increased by 122% year over year. The best brand loyalists ultimately trust what you put in front of them and will be willing to share content you provide.
Now, more so than ever, we share our personal thoughts, preferences, viewpoints and ideas through social media. Businesses have to seize the day and take this opportunity to get consumers to help share brand content.
3. Go Directly to Your Audience
Another assumption by social media marketers is your customers will always come to you. This is just not the case anymore. An infographic from Koeppel Direct, a direct-response marketing firm, explained how millennials consume media nowadays.
The research showed 59% of millennials’ main news source is the Internet (only six percent behind the No. 1 source: television). Additionally, this age group spends about 5.4 hours a day on social media and millennials also check their smartphones around 43 times per day. If you’re not taking advantage of social media engagement, you’re truly missing out on a chance to build brand loyalty.
More than 66% of this generation welcomes brands on social media. You need to go directly to your audience on relevant networks to ensure you’re reaching the right people. At the same time, you want to find your right social network identity when starting off. Each social network acts differently with the content you provide. Creating brand loyalists begins with knowing:
- Who is your audience or main demographic?
- Where is your audience using social media?
- What does your audience like? What gets them talking?
- Which network is the most likely to engage your audience?
4. Get Your Senior-Level Staff Involved
As we’ve mentioned several times, creating effective brand loyalty demands engagement. When you open up to the social media community, you want to ensure your content provides a level of thought leadership. A BrandFog study showed when brand executives engage on social media, people listen. In fact, 81% of respondents said they had more confidence in the brand when executives use social media.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 29, 2015
While your social media marketing team could be made up of absolutely stellar workers, it definitely doesn’t hurt to get those in executive roles, such as Elon Musk of Tesla, to help publish content. People tend to prefer hearing things come straight from the horse’s mouth. If your CEO is publishing content, your audience might be more committed to your brand because they see stability and confidence in the company.
It’s smart to mix in content from all areas of your business to humanize your brand as well. Seeing content from both ends of the totem pole can instill a sense of trustworthiness into your audience about your brand.
When using Sprout, you can help administrators divvy up the social media engagement responsibilities right on the platform through its flexible account structure. This will help prevent non-approved content from hitting your social networks and potentially causing a problem.
You can easily pick and choose your members, account owners and managers all on Sprout.
5. Create Long-Lasting Experiences
If you want customers to constantly come back to your brand, you must create a positive experience for them. Social media can make these impacts last for a long period of time.
When you receive a negative post about your product, place of business or an employee, customers appreciate the time you take out of your day to be their problem solver. Even with your positive mentions, if you Retweet, Favorite, or Like or just thank your brand loyalists, you create a lasting bond between your brand and customers.
To ensure this process runs smoothly, you need to invest in an integrated system so no voice, concern or brand praise goes unheard. Being aware of your surroundings is a great way to stay on top of social media marketing and improving brand loyalty in your customers.
Do you have any recommendations for brand loyalty? Are there any brands you gravitate toward yourself? Leave a comment below so other readers can see what works best!