The debate over value
I constantly hear complaints about not seeing the “value” in social media, and because it doesn’t have a high return on investment, it is often dismissed as a waste of time. My response to the skeptics is this: the real benefit of social media marketing doesn’t lie in how much money you make off of people who stumble across your Facebook page. The biggest perk of having a strong online presence is developing a sense of brand loyalty. It’s about fostering a relationship between consumer and business and developing a sense of loyalty within the consumer. If you can accomplish that, then you will have tapped into a group of people who will advocate for you and your business by sending you referrals, using you themselves, and publicizing your business.
The question then becomes HOW to develop that strong sense of brand loyalty. This isn’t something that happens overnight. Think about your personal relationships: did they develop into the strong friendships they are today overnight? Most of the time, it probably took years or months to really develop a strong sense of loyalty to a particular individual. The same principle applies in social media marketing. Developing a rapport with someone in the online community takes some time and dedication.
Here are some ways to build loyalty online:
Listen. All the time. When you put your business on social media sites, you are giving consumers 24/7 access to your brand. With that comes the likelihood that people will be writing comments on your page and interacting with you at all times of the day. As a brand, it’s up to you to monitor the activity on your page on a regular basis and be responsive. The more your consumers feel heard on your online presence, the more they will interact with you and trust you.
Focus on quality interaction, not the quantity of your interactions. You could tweet 20+ times per day, but if it’s all junk or spam posts that only focus on publicizing yourself, you’re not going to see much of a benefit. You need to focus on making all of your posts engaging and inviting to the consumer. It shouldn’t be a huge online advertisement. It’s more of a forum for your consumers to interact with you, so you need to make their interests your top priority in your posts.
Give your customers the spotlight. As I mentioned above, you don’t want your ENTIRE page to be about you. What’s the fun in that for the consumer? Make them a priority on your page by asking them to share stories, questions, comments and concerns on a regular basis. This will emphasize your commitment to customer service and experience with your brand, not to publicizing yourself. People will respond more favorably to this sort of interaction, and it’s imperative to building the brand loyalty you seek to obtain.
If you focus less on getting more business and more on connecting with potential consumers, you’ll find that social media will be a great tool in developing the brand loyalty you’re seeking. It’s all about patience, timing and the right strategy.