With Facebook’s recent changes emphasizing engagement vs fan count, it leaves me wondering, isn’t this the way it was designed all along? For social media to be inherently social, 1:1 dialog and communication should absolutely be the cornerstone.
Here at Engauge, we are constantly looking for ways to propel our brands to become champions for their consumers, connect the dots and be, well, social. Moving beyond Facebook and into the larger picture of digital, we know Facebook is merely a network, a powerful network, but a piece of the puzzle none the less.
If communication is the cornerstone of building relationships with consumers, loyalty is the foundation. Not loyalty in the sense that we often see it today, but the world of loyalty our digitally connected consumers are coming to expect.
Merriam-Webster defines loyal as “a strong feeling of support of allegiance.” When I use a coupon or offer card to make a purchase vs. visiting a competitor retailer, am I being loyal? Yes, I am loyal to that offer. No, I am not always loyal to the retailer. So how can we as marketers build loyalty to a brand in a world of coupon craziness? The answer is in the balance of experience and advocacy.
In order for a consumer to become loyal to your brand, they must first experience it. We all know the saying about first impressions, make that impression with something they can’t turn down: an offer. Welcome emails, Facebook Like-gated tabs and SMS welcome messages are all great mediums to welcome a consumer into your brand.
However, this is where many marketers end the conversation, when it’s just beginning. In order to drive advocacy and allegiance the consumer must build a relationship with a brand. This is where in today’s digital landscape we are perfectly primed to connect the dots.
What is the personal connection you want a consumer to have with your brand? What utility are you going to provide to them that the competitor won’t? What is exclusive to this channel that they can’t find anywhere else? This may be great customer service, a mobile app to scan items and specials in-store, intriguing information on Facebook and Twitter that sustain a conversation or behind the scenes photos on Instagram or Tumblr. Don’t let the conversation stop in one place.
The key: it must be a combination. If you want to have a relationship with your consumers, don’t end it when you open the door. Give them something to talk about, prime them to tell their friends about you, and when they do, be listening and ready to reward them for that behavior. Be your customer’s number one fan and you just might find they will become your’s too, and in the process, indispensably loyal to your brand.