With each social media success, the power of a brand’s social media presence to build loyalty can grow both in size and scope, making investments into social media profiles a must for any business.

This article was originally published on Loyalty360.org.

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By Sara Flick, Director of Content Strategy and Public Relations at ZOG Digital

Social media is the best opportunity today for businesses to build brand loyalty and influence perception among their target audiences. Americans on average spend more than 3 hours a day on social networks, which rivals almost every other activity including television. Furthermore, it’s not just about having a social network presence, it’s about making that presence useful to consumers. Thirty-two percent of consumers have “broken up” with a brand on social media because the accounts were used for marketing purposes and didn’t provide the necessary value.

Each social network brings a unique value proposition to brands. While every social network allows brands to communicate directly with consumers while reinforcing brand messaging, each network’s platform allows the brands to do so with slightly different audiences in unique ways. For brands to effectively use social media to build loyalty from wide ranging audiences, they must use multiple platforms simultaneously.

doubletree, facebook, hotel, loyalty 360

Facebook: Facebook’s platform is perfect for brands that want to influence large audiences while still interacting with consumers one-on-one. Facebook’s platform allows brands to easily offer exclusive deals to users who have “liked” the brand’s page. DoubleTree by Hilton is just one of many brands that entice consumers to click like by promising exclusive deals. Brands that follow through on this type of promise and continually offer new exclusive information or discounts to users who like, share or comment on posts, will build a loyal following that engages consistently.

taco bell, loyalty 360, facebook

Social media users today demand that brands use social networks as more than just additional advertising platforms; rather, they demand engagement, exclusive deals and relevant content. Therefore, another tactic to build loyalty through Facebook is to foster relationships with fans, even going as far as hosting discussions with multiple Facebook fans at once. Brands can do this by asking for the opinions of fans, responding swiftly to any concerns a customer is having (like Taco Bell regularly does, as seen to the left) and using the information gleaned from online conversations to influence actions outside of Facebook.

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Twitter: Twitter’s uniqueness comes from its 140 character limit, forcing brands to be concise with their message. But what Twitter may lack in post length, it makes up for in the ability to interact with consumers quickly. Airlines are one industry that has have taken full advantage of the power of Twitter, using it to respond swiftly to the myriad of questions and complaints that come in daily. For example, the team behind British Airways will follow up for customers who say they can’t get a response through other means.

This type of personal attention, when done consistently, builds trust and loyalty with a brand because the customer feels like the brand cares enough to fix issues when presented with them. Sometimes simply listening to mentions and saying thank you is enough to make that Twitter user feel valued, an important step in building a relationship and generating increased loyalty.

YouTube: With its video focused content, YouTube is the perfect place for brands to develop brand loyalty through openness and transparency. One example is McDonald’s, which when faced with allegations of “pink slime” being an ingredient in its chicken nuggets, decided to open the doors and allow everyone to see how the fast food product is made. Consumers instinctively trust brands that pull back the curtain and don’t act like there are secrets being hidden. By giving consumers an inside view of the production process, McDonald’s told consumers that it was worth trusting.

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Another option brands can use to build loyalty via YouTube is to create informational content that consumers will find useful. For example, Kohl’s uses YouTube as a way to educate consumers about how to use its makeup products. Kohl’s has created and published several videos giving step by step instructions on how to create different looks using makeup only found at the retailer. These “how-to” videos will also show up prominently in Google’s search results, helping integrate a brand’s social media strategy with its search engine optimization goals.

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Conclusion

Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube offer brands the opportunity to build a loyal brand following.  The overreaching key to social media success is having a policy that includes quick, accurate and informative engagement with followers in real time. As a brand’s social media following gains steam, each piece of engagement, be it a share, comment, retweet or like, can help spread the brand’s message organically. With each social media success, the power of a brand’s social media presence can grow both in size and scope, making investments into social media profiles a must for any business.

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