Our experts list the best ways to increase customer loyalty by optimising your social media experience
The marketing world is full of clichéd phrases.
“Content is king”, “we’re results-oriented” and “always be testing” are just a few examples of the phrases marketers love to espouse at every opportunity.
But there’s one marketing phrase which is very rarely uttered. Despite it’s lack of coverage it is in fact one of the most important tenets of running a business, and that is the customer is always right.
I’m not saying you have to do everything your customer says. No, what I mean is that you have to take a customer centric approach to your business and marketing.
You have to fully understand what it is your customers want, the pain points they face and how you can help them to achieve success. You can’t expect to grow your brand if you’re not giving the customer what they want.
Most marketers focus on increasing conversions. They look at landing page design, copy optimisation and email sequences. All great methods of increasing sales and revenue, but not a great way to build an amazing public image and connect with users.
To connect with your users on a more personal level, ask them for immediate feedback and offer quick resolutions to problems there’s one method that reigns supreme.
Increased social media engagement.
Sure, this approach doesn’t provide the highest ROI nor is it the best at driving conversions. But social media networks are paramount in offering a better customer experience and improving customer loyalty.
Social Media’s Place in Customer Experience
Social media has taken the world by storm.
Facebook has 1.7 billion active users, Instagram comes it at 500 million and Twitter is bringing up the rear with 313 million.
Social media has become a necessity for modern life. It’s evolved from a social connection platform into a powerful business and marketing tool.
However, brands need to be aware of how users prefer to use social media. When it comes to consumer actions, social media users generally ignore brand advertisements but trust peer recommendations.
Social media is the home of powerful social proof, and consumers know this so they use social networks as the defacto complaint platform. In the UK, one in four social media users have used a network to complain and seek assistance from a brand.
Yet despite consumers usage of social networks, there’s a huge number of brands who simply don’t have a good social media engagement strategy or policy.
Only 26% of brands integrate social media into their business strategies (source)
20% of CMOs use social media for customer engagement (source)
Changing your social media engagement strategy isn’t easy. You’ve got to build it from the ground up with the knowledge that your primary aim is to connect with and assist your users.
Improving customer loyalty goes beyond generic status updates about your latest biz developments, it’s about providing real value to readers. And here’s how you need to start on that track.
Use your SM to Listen to Consumers
The more you know about your audience, the easier it’ll be to help them.
Social media is an incredible place to find out how your customers really feel. It’s a platform built on connections and opinion sharing. There’s a wealth of information available to you, all you need to do is listen.
Social listening goes beyond looking for direct mentions of your brand or tweets to your service department. There are more conversations happening about your brand than directly with it.
30% of tweets about you don’t mention your Twitter handle (source)
9% of tweets about you are actually directed at you
If you’re only looking at the mentions and tweets sent directly to you, then you’re missing out on 90%+ of the information you could use to improve customer experience.
It’s why you need comprehensive listening tools. SocialMention is a great tool for also understanding the strength and reach of your brand.
SproutSocial is an all in one solution that allows you to not only schedule upcoming posts, but also provides a detailed analytics and listening suite.
Hootsuite, whilst known primarily as a scheduling tool can also be used to monitor keywords. You can use their keyword search tool to view who’s saying what about key terms.
Whatever tool you use, you’ve got to search not only for key terms, but also those that are related to your brand. We recommend checking for:
Praise and complaints about your business and its products
Praise and complaints about competitor brands
Mentions of key employees
Variations of key names, titles to account for misspellings
Mentions with and without # and @
People will talk about brands without using @ or #
To really get the most out of your searches you’re going to need to experiment. You’re trying to build a more complete image of the consumer so think outside the box and also look at finding mentions of the specific problems they’re facing, or the fears they voice.
Genuinely Connect with Consumers
Social media requires constant action.
You’re account is not there to spy on what users are mentioning nor is it a platform that lends itself to automation. For the best improvements in customer experience you have to use your social media accounts for what they were intended.
To connect with others.
Stop thinking in terms of conversions, revenue or returns and just connect with customers. And by connection I mean a genuine connection.
Don’t rely on automation. The automation options aren’t as sophisticated as email marketing. Automated messages are painfully apparent and do nothing to improve customer loyalty. They come across as lazy and annoying as demonstrated in the wonderful message below.
Fostering a genuine connection also requires you to face unhappy customers. Social media is a public forum and your biggest detractors can be turned into raving advocates.
65% of consumers list first contact resolution of a problem as a key indicator of great customer service. That means the person who complains today could be a fan tomorrow if you help them solve their problem quickly.
And if the whole thing is handled through social media you’re presenting a great image and may even get a favourable review at the end. Incredibly important when 90% of social media users trust peer recommendations.
But remember the golden rule. Social media engagement is not giving regular updates on news that’s important to you. It’s to connect with and help your customer base.
If you have to, hire a dedicated social media staff member to respond to questions, queries and complaints. That person doesn’t have to solve everything on first contact, but they do need to respond with a personalised, helpful message.
Innocent Drinks has an awesome social media strategy where they respond to nearly all mentions of the brand. It’s a simple action that increases brand loyalty by humanising what could otherwise be a faceless entity. They also have a great way of dealing with negative messages.
Integrate Across Channels
Optimising each channel isn’t enough in modern marketing. Customers are jumping between devices and using various channels within each purchase journey. Improving customer experience relies on you creating a seamless journey between each channel.
It’s become one of the most important aspects of modern marketing.
Omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain 89% of their customers (source)
Customers who shop both in store and online have a 30% higher lifetime value
Smartphones now influence 28% of US sales
Whether you’re looking to improve customer engagement, increase conversions or simply streamline the purchase journey, an omni channel approach is a necessity.
And social media plays an integral part of your wider marketing strategy.
Social media is not a solitary campaign. It has to be linked with everything else you’re doing from implementing unified design on social media and landing pages to facilitating a seamless omni channel journey.
Integrating your social media isn’t just tweeting about a new product launch to coincide with an email campaign. It feeds into your funnel at key moments. Look at your wider strategy and understand how social media can make things easier for consumers.
Streamlining the purchase journey. Identify consumers who respond well through social media and feed them specific social media offers at the times they’re most likely to respond. These offers should link to a custom purchase page optimised for the source and the level of awareness of these prospects.
Integrate social media with your CRM. If someone complains on social media have that immediately generate a ticket. Your team will then find it easier to track the issue effectively. With each update respond to the customer through the channels hey initially complained through.
Your brand is not a social media account. It’s a complicated beast that encompasses multiple channels. You need to ensure each of those channels talks and works with one another.
Spotlight Great Customers
Social proof is the great leveller when it comes to convincing new customers to purchase. We often speak of social proof in terms of reviews and testimonials, both of which require an existing level of customer loyalty to gain.
However, if you’re currently improving customer loyalty and haven’t yet gained good reviews, why not create your own by spotlighting amazing things users have done with your products?
If you hear of a customer who’s achieved something amazing with your product or service, give them a shoutout on your social media accounts. Tell the world what it is they’ve achieved and list the steps they’ve taken.
You can reach out to your audience to understand who’s doing what by running a promotion.
GoPro is the king of user generated content. Nearly all their marketing revolves around videos submitted by users and the incredibly things GoPro has captured for them. They highlight how GoPros are able to capture videos regular cameras simply can’t.
However, their content often revolves around extreme sports. It can sometimes feel a little dismissive of those who lead non extreme lifestyles. It’s why this campaign from GoPro on their Twitter account works so well.
GoPro are collecting videos which would help them showcase their top users. However, the video they use to promote the campaign is one that couldn’t be less extreme. It’s of a father helping his son learn to ride a bike without training wheels.
Social Media Definitely Has a Place in Your Strategy
Social media might not be the conversion powerhouse of email and it might not be as sexy as landing page optimisation with its psychology and design experiments.
But there is literally no other digital channel better at optimising customer experience and improving customer loyalty.
Don’t abuse your social media accounts. Use them as they were intended - to connect with others. But implement smart tactics to make the most of those connections and understand what it is your customers really want and need from you.