More than ever, effective social media strategies include building community and nurturing brand advocates. These advocates can include key influencers like bloggers or industry-insiders, as well as people who simply talk about their experiences online. These satisfied or dissatisfied consumers have power. According to the Huffington Post, people interact with an average of 11.4 pieces of content before making a purchase. Clearly, consumer-created content can cause a positive or negative ripple effect for your business, which makes it critical to establish strong relationships on your social channels.
Build loyalty through an actively engaged social community
As social media communities change the way people access and act on consumer information, it’s getting harder for many businesses to keep up. Savvy marketers leverage social media with campaigns that engage their community and create positive feelings about their brand.
Take a look at these creative examples for inspiration
Hilton’s “Our Stage. Your Story.” – In this clever ongoing campaign, Hilton encourages its online community to post their personal travel content to social media channels with the hashtag #HiltonStory. In exchange, engaged participants receive prizes such as two night stays at Hilton hotels. In the campaign’s latest chapter, contributors can envision their dream trip using a digital travel vision board and share their dream trip on their social channels with the #HiltonStory hashtag.
This is a great example of how a brand can leverage the power of consumer-created content to increase their reach. In addition, Hilton establishes themselves as leaders in the travel industry by providing helpful, fun experiences without directly selling or marketing. Their campaign homepage includes information like an interview with an expert, travel statistics, and motivating headlines to encourage travelers to follow their dreams. This builds Hilton’s image as an expert that cares about the travel community, which increases brand loyalty.
American Express “LinkLikeLove” – This Facebook campaign reveals a different approach to building online communities. Through customized promotions that personalize engagement and expand awareness in user communities, Amex leveraged their social network to increase engagement and grow their cardholder membership. To set up the campaign, Marketers created an app that linked a Facebook user’s account to their Amex account, giving them unique discounts based on their Facebook habits and preferences. They encouraged people to “like” their favorite deals, which spread positive exposure to users’ social networks (and gave them a better picture of their customer preferences).
These strategists also found fun, interesting ways to spark conversations with customers, such as the fill-in-the-blanks post “This weekend I’m taking my Amex card to ______ with ______”. While the goal of this engagement post is clearly to promote the brand, it’s effective because it plays off of people’s love for self-expression, and gives them a fun way to think creatively and envision their weekend.
How brand loyalty influences buying decisions
One of the greatest benefits of establishing a strong social media connection with your customers is that they may be more likely to remain loyal to your business and open to growing their relationship with you. That digital experience is a key part of the overall customer experience. But let’s not forget why people engage in social media: to share their opinions. With social media, your business has a unique opportunity to give personalized attention in an otherwise anonymous public venue –which can be an effective way to delight customers into saying nice things about your brand.
This word-of-mouth is no longer just a marketing nicety; it’s mission critical in today’s competitive landscape. Increasingly, consumers rely on their social network to find referrals to meet their needs and help them make buying decisions. They may ask their online friends directly, such as, “Does anyone know a good place to buy…?” but more likely people are influenced simply by seeing others talk about great experiences with certain brands, because that’s the experience they want too.
It’s even more valuable if your business is monitoring social media to capture what consumers are saying about their interests and unmet needs, because it provides you with a greater opportunity to influence their buying decisions. Social media monitoring and predictive analytics make it easy to uncover these insights from the volumes of data across numerous social networks so you can respond with relevant offers aligned with consumers’ most current needs.
Seeing the big picture wins of social media
For many businesses, social media is simply a marketing tool, a venue to broadcast their brand story. However, to capture ROI from your efforts, your company should view social media as a critical component for managing the customer experience, and a valuable commodity for growing the business. That means listening to what people are saying online: their needs, concerns, and preferences, so you can take action to engage them in highly relevant ways that strengthen their connection to your brand.
By considering your social media community as critical to your businesses success, you can begin to bring in more brand advocates. Their free word-of-mouth advertising can influence millions of consumers, creating a profitable ripple effect for your business.
Is your business looking for creative new ways to build engagement and meet key business objectives through social media? Are you struggling to keep up with the daily demands? Beyond the Arc can help!