Looking for ways to nurture customer relationships with social media?
Social media can play a pivotal role in building more meaningful connections with customers, so they stay with you longer.
In this article, you'll discover a five-step plan to help you boost customer loyalty with social media.
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#1: Listen to Customers
In addition to monitoring brand sentiment, social listening can play an important role in customer retention. Specifically, you'll want to use social listening to find out:
- Where your customers congregate on social media
- Which of your products and services they talk about
- If they have consistent praises or complaints that you should encourage or address
- What types of content they consistently share; do they post a lot of photos or use specific hashtags?
In this tweet, a Levi's customer praises the brand's 541 jeans with the hashtag #Commuter.
Many social listening tools let you monitor for these data points. You can use this data to compile content ideas where social outreach might play a significant role post-purchase.
#2: Outline an Engagement Plan
Conversion activities are the next step in growing the customer relationship. This is where you proactively provide the value that your customers seek based on your listening. As you deepen customer relationships, a cycle begins where customers provide feedback, you fine-tune the value you provide, and so on.
Once you establish a level of engagement, develop conversion activities that focus on building a deeper relationship with customers. Here are some key elements to include when you're trying to keep customers involved with your business on social media:
Create a calendar for your content that ensures ongoing communication and reflects the needs of your business. Make sure that you account for business goals, such as driving in-store sales, promotions around new products, seasonal campaigns, and so on. (More on these ideas in a moment.)
Define the content, offers, and/or rewards that you'll provide. Use what you've learned about your customers, what they value, and how you can encourage positive behavior while addressing common questions or concerns.
Create conversion activities that are easy to participate in. With most social activity occurring on mobile, it's critical that any conversion activity you promote is simple to click through and complete, regardless of your consumers' device. Also, people like to remain in their current context, so the more your conversion activities take place in the social environment, the more successful you'll be.
Identify the data you need to collect to track success, from which campaigns get the most interaction to who is participating.
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#3: Identify and Embrace Active Advocates
For consumers, brand loyalty is tied to the perceived value they get from the relationship. At the same time, marketers know that loyal customers spend more on purchases and save companies significant customer acquisition costs.
You can use social listening tools to identify social advocates you might target as social VIPs, and then infuse those relationships with value.
As a first step, ask your loyal customers to self-identify in exchange for a reward of commensurate value (in their eyes) for engaging more deeply with you on social media.
For example, offer inclusion in a social VIP club in which members are rewarded on an ongoing basis for their participation. In this Facebook post, supermodel Miranda Kerr offers customers a $25 gift card in exchange for joining the VIP program for her cosmetics line, KORA Organics.
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Because the rewards need to reflect value in your customers' eyes, use the feedback from your VIP base to develop those rewards.
Second, proactively identify social VIPs. One way to do this is by “socializing” email. That is, send an email with an embedded social trigger to a targeted group of people from your CRM. Once the email is activated (on the customer's preferred social network), you can encourage participation in a social value exchange.
In both cases, rewarding your customers first works. Non-profits learned long ago the psychological impact that gifting first has on fundraising efforts: Consumers feel beholden to repay the gift.
#4: Offer a Rewards Program
Once you've identified your social VIPs and outlined conversion tactics, it's important to create and maintain a consistent cadence. You want to ensure the value you provide is always perceived as a fair trade for your customers' ongoing loyalty. Ask yourself, “Would I continue participating with this company in exchange for this reward?” If the answer is no, go back to the drawing board.
To get started, here are several rewards that work well across various audiences and can be tailored to your business and VIPs:
Provide VIPs with access to unique content that they truly value. Perhaps it's an often-requested recipe, how-to guidance, or a behind-the-scenes video. Sometimes it can be as simple as a “thank you.” In this example, the Orlando City Soccer Club promotes exclusive content to its LionNation members.
Invite social VIPs to a preview or other special event that's limited to this group. If you have an annual event for all of your customers, for example, invite your VIPs to a special early (or after-hours) portion of the event, behind-the-scenes opportunity, or meet and greet with a brand celebrity.
Offer an upgrade or sneak peek. Are you launching a new product, property, store, or route? Offer VIPs an early peek, access, or upgrade. In addition to retaining customers, this tactic helps you grow advocacy for a product launch.
If the social VIPs are members of your brand's loyalty program, let them earn loyalty program points through social interaction.
Whenever possible, personalize your offers and give your VIPs the opportunity to look ahead to the next promotion. For example, if the holiday shopping season is around the corner, let your VIPs in on your holiday promotion plans. They'll often provide early feedback and reward you with their loyalty for incorporating their ideas.
#5: Measure Response
Ultimately, success is defined by growing customer retention and spend. A good way to track this is to capture social IDs and self-identifying data (like an email address) in your conversion activities that you can link together in your CRM and throughout the sales process. Some companies tie this directly to their ecommerce and sales systems or through loyalty programs.
In addition to directly measuring sales, look for growth in social engagement and social following. As your customers share more, they create a virtual snowball effect of brand advocacy and social proof among their own networks, increasing other people's interest in your business.
Social media can (and should) play a critical role in maintaining the customer relationship, and even more in growing lifetime customer value.
You can encourage greater loyalty and customer lifetime value by incorporating these five tactics into your social media program. In the process, you'll grow social customer retention with a lasting business impact.
What do you think? Have you tried these tactics to connect with loyal customers? What techniques have worked for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Reward photo from Shutterstock.
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