It has been estimated that the average person spends nearly two hours on social media every day. If you want to find and relate to customers, social media is where you should be. If you want to announce an update or promote a product or service, it is where you need to be.

Customer loyalty is nurtured when your audience feels heard, understood and appreciated, and there is often no better place for this interaction than on social platforms.

Social media is constantly changing here are three tips of developing customer loyalty using social media in 2018. These basic but necessary principles can help guide you if you are new to social media marketing or if you need to re-analyze your strategy.

1. Plan your content

The internet is a very noisy place, filled with pop-up ads, videos, GIFs and information overload. A company’s posts need to be thoughtful, planned-out and unique to break through the clutter.

“Developing an editorial plan and calendar, which defines the types of content you will share to meet your goals while keeping your audience engaged is essential,” said Dave Chaffey, CEO of Smart Insights. “For example, take time to create rich visual cards, videos or infographics, which tend to have the biggest impact in the newsfeeds and are more likely to make people follow-through and engage with your brand to find more of the same.”

2. Consistently prioritize social media

Social media platforms are similar to big-box technology stores, where a customer can easily become overwhelmed by a wall of TV sets blasting images all at the same time. There’s so much to look at and everything is moving so fast that you instantly forget what you saw just 10 seconds ago. On social platforms, not only does the content have to be appealing but so does the consistency.

What makes companies’ social media efforts successful is “definitely a consistent effort. That alone… is something that people tend to overlook and really undervalue: how important it is to consistently invest in the channels and resources,” said Josh Krakauer, founder and CEO of social media marketing agency Sculpt. “You can test lots of things in the short term, but a long-term, sustained effort at building and managing a social media presence is where companies find success.”

3. Figure out your objectives

With other types of marketing, it’s about getting your name out and establishing your branding. With social media, there are unique opportunities for relationship building and real-time interaction.

It’s crucial to determine how your customers are using social media and then appeal to them through their wants and needs. Whether it’s higher conversion rates or more engagement, companies have different objectives with social media, but all need to appeal to their audience to succeed.

“I think we have to decide what the metrics for success are on social media and for different brands and different industries… They’re going to have pretty different goals. But if I had to try to put some guiding principles to it, I think I would say listen,” said Steve Pearson, CEO of Friendemic. “Don’t just use social media as just another broadcast mechanism. There’s a lot more to social media than that, and you’re missing out if you’re not taking advantage of the things that make social media unique and powerful.”

Solving social media marketing’s biggest challenges

According to the survey, the biggest challenges that companies have involving social media marketing were: not having enough human and financial resources; lacking a formal strategy; and building a community of followers and influencers.

When you create a successful social media marketing strategy, you’re focusing your efforts on a project that will have a clear and measurable outcome. You can invest in valuable content that produces customer interaction rather than allowing your social media presence to exist as an afterthought with minimal results.

One of the major strengths of social media marketing is to drive traffic to your website and therefore increase conversion rates. From there, you can decide whether your human and financial resources are providing a decent ROI and determine if your messaging is on point or you’ll need to focus on a different social media platform.

Finally, when you have quality content, you’ll build your reputation for your thought leadership pieces that will naturally attract a community of followers and influencers. You need to prove your worth before you can convince someone of value to support you; this happens with a clear and measurable social media strategy.

Social media marketing is complicated and much of the time it’s more of an art than a science; however, it’s where your customers are and where you can develop relationships and loyalty. The question isn’t “can I afford to have a social media strategy?” but “can I afford not to?”

This article originally appeared in the December 2017 issue of Direct Marketing.

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Kristen Herhold

Kristen Herhold is a content writer and marketer at Clutch, a B2B research firm in the heart of Washington, DC. Connect with her on LinkedIn, or reach out with any questions, comments or concerns at kristen@clutch.co or 202-840-6690.

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