By @TheMarkDalton

Nobody said that social media was going to be easy, especially from the perspective of using it for business. Despite that, many businesses assume it is going to be easy but once you start using social media you will realise that consumers expect an open line of communication in the same way they have with family and friends, they expect speedy responses and most of all they expect honesty and transparency. 

As a business you need to be aware and attentive to consumers on social media. This is a two way street, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. If you use social media as a company you need to be willing to participate and engage with users if you want to build a community of brand loyalists. Why do you want to build a community of brand loyalists? Because not only will they buy your products themselves but they will recommend others to buy from you too. They can spread they word of who you are and what you do.

When people start knocking on your door and reaching out to your brand you need to make sure you are timely about your responses. Studies indicate that around 42% of consumers expect a reply from a brand within an hour and 32% expect a reply within 30 minutes. Personally I would expect a business to reply to me in some form within the hour, so the heat is on for you!

Expectations on social media are staggering. More is expected from businesses than ever before because businesses now have the tools to deliver effectively on those expectations. As a result, you need to raise your game and make sure you meet what is expected of you.

Here are four things you could do to build your brand loyalty on social media.

1 Use social media to tell your story

This is something I keep coming back to, you need to use social media tools to tell a story. If you want to increase brand awareness and brand loyalty then you are going to have to get creative so that people are engaged with the content and want to come back for more.

Establish yourself as a trustworthy authoritative figure in your industry and then post enthralling content that keeps consumer attention. Just take a look at how Airbnb are using story telling to promote their brand and connect with customers.

 

Wall and chain is an incredibly moving story which connects with customers and pulls on heart strings. It is a short animated film about “belonging” which is tied to the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9th 1989. The ad was first published in November 2014.

Tell a story your customers want to see, whether it is getting creative with video content, using stories on Snapchat or live tweeting an event.

2 Connect with customers so you can encourage them to share your content

Possibly one of the greatest tools in your arsenal is getting people to actually share your content. So many brands are failing to actually do this effectively! You see posts from brands on Facebook now which could have thousands of likes yet only a few hundred shares. So people like the content but don’t feel compelled to share it with their network.

User created content grows each year, the best brand loyalists will want to share what you put in front of them. If you have managed to connect with users and build a rapport with them then the chances are they will be more willing to share that content which you have created. People share content on social media that interests them, social media is built on sharing with each other.

If you can forge connections and create compelling stories and content then you will find that users are going to be willing to share that with their own network.

3 Get senior staff, such as your CEO involved

When brand executives engage on social media, people listen. Creating effective brand loyalty demands engagement. You could have the best in house social media team on the planet and they could be pumping out great content and doing a fantastic job engaging with customers. However, when executives take part, people will sit up an pay even more attention.

If the CEO and his top level staff are posting and endorsing content then it can help build stability and confidence in the company. Make sure that when senior members of staff do get involved that they remember they are on social media. You don’t want them to come across as stuffy, formal and unapproachable. You want them to come across as cool, approachable and laid back people.

Customers are not going to connect and reach out if they are getting the wrong kind of vibes from your CEO. Humanise the brand, humanise the interactions and make sure you encourage senior members of staff to be human themselves. Get them to have a look at how your social media team and how other CEO’s use social media for spreading brand awareness and engagement before they start using it themselves.

Of course for some CEO’s it will come more naturally and they will pick things up quicker than others.

4 Go to your audience

One of the biggest assumptions that social media marketers tend to make is that once you create your social media profiles and start posting content, people are going to come to you. Wrong, you have to go and get them. There is so much content being generated every single hour of every single day that you are going to have to go out and get the audience to come to you. You need to put yourself out there!

This means going to where the audience is at the moment. So if your target market right now is anywhere between 14-30 years old then you need to get on Snapchat right now and start getting used to it, discover how to create compelling content on Snapchat as soon as you can because that is where the attention is right now. If your target market is 30+ years old then you have a bit more time to get yourself on Snapchat and get ready because in 12-24 months much of this demographic will be on Snapchat too.

The most recent snapchat figures are showing 10 billion videos are consumed daily on the platform. People spend on average 30-40 minutes each day on Snapchat and check social media networks at any available opportunity they can throughout the day.

Reach out to your audience on whatever platform you interact on, tweet them, send them replies on Facebook, send them snaps on Snapchat, like Instagram photos…you need to constantly look at how you engage people on social media through your brand.

Don’t sit there thinking they are going to come to you. Go out to them, engage with them and there is a good chance you are going to pick yourself up some great brand loyalists.

Final thoughts

Getting people to become brand loyalists to you and your product is all down to you. If you sit there and just pump out content but never bother to interact then you are going to have limited success. Talk, behave, interact like a normal person. The big key is to humanise your brand and your content. Connect with people on a personal level and they will go out and help spread the word of what you are doing through their own social network.

Go to where the people are. I have been getting loud about Snapchat in particular over the past number of months and the biggest problem people have is that they feel they have missed the boat and that they simply feel too old for the platform. Try not to think that way, trust me – you are not too old for Snapchat, that is changing and fast!

The best advice I can give to people having this problem is to download Snapchat anyway, follow a bunch of people and start consuming their content. See what they are doing on Snapchat and see how they promote and interact with their audience. That is what I did! I studied how people used Snapchat for a good month before I started creating content myself.

Start consuming the content on there and when you are ready, start creating content. 10 billion videos consumed daily. 165 billion users. 124 million daily active users. You don’t need to jump in with both feet if you don’t want to but it makes some sense that any business understands just what the hell is going on over there.

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