Today, customers expect much more. Customers are more demanding and much more vocal. It is clear that the customer is fast becoming the ones in the driving seat. Social change is taking place in the way customers listen to and engage with brands and companies. For businesses to continue to provide what their customers want, they must be aware and open to this. The customers are also the most powerful mouthpiece for any brand.
Attracting and retaining customers can be done through the engagement and two-way communication with customers, no matter what channel, from print to online, mobile and social media platforms. They must tailor their communications to individual need, respond rapidly and accurately track and reference what has been said and when.
Businesses must find ways to identify with individual customers and their experience and build a strong sense of community between the brand and its audiences, customers, employees and key stakeholders. Reinforce the brand experience and reward brand engagement.
Businesses need to ensure that their communication strategies align with the information they have about their customers, and that their communications have multi-channel capabilities. But information alone doesn’t build relationships; understanding ‘what to do’ with that information is the key. Knowing when and how to use that information enables a business to really engage with its customers and take each individual customer on a journey that builds loyalty and goodwill and in turn creates brand advocates.
Here are some simple steps to get you started at working towards building your brand advocates:
1. Build the relationship first
Consumers don’t just fall in love with your brand; they fall in love with your high quality product, excellent customer service, and a consistently enjoyable experience. Think of a customer as you would ‘building your own’ relationships. It’s just the same.
2. Maintain engagement
In order to build your Brand Advocates engagement with your customers must be ongoing. One off purchasers are just that, however, create your marketing strategies with a focus on engaging with your purchasers over time in a variety of different ways through competitions, news and special offers and you will greatly increase your chances of turning your one-off purchasers into long-term consumers who will go on to recommend your products/services to freinds and family.
Social Media is no different. A one off Tweet or an email here and there is an announcement, not engagement. Real, true, effective engagement takes time, attention, and overall effort. Effort that will pay off over time, creating brand advocates for your business.
3. Do unto others, as you’d have other do unto you….
I pretty much live by this rule, and you should too. Everything I tweet is for and on behalf of my audience in mind. This way of thinking should be a requirement of every business especially now in this social media age. As marketers, we want our brand to be heard, valued and paid attention to. So what we need to do for our Brand Advocates is give them our attention, and make sure they know we value them. Treat them as you would want to be treated. Acknowledge followers, retweets and recognise.
Customers want to be heard. After you ask, make sure you listen. What are your consumers saying? But also as important, what are they not saying? True listening requires a willingness to place consumers’ opinions above the brand’s own view of itself.
5. Ask your Brand Advocates what they want
With social media, we have unprecedented ways of finding out information from our consumers. Ask them what they think of your product, and how it does or does not meet their expectation and needs. Ask them what recommendations they have for product improvements. It is also important to show you have listened though too, as sort of ‘you said, we did’ exercise.
6. Empower and Reward
Empower your Advocates, do what it takes to help them get heard. They are, after all, spreading the word about your products and services, so it only makes sense to make sure their voices are heard. Offer them recognition with incentives; they will then go on to be even more powerful brand advocates. Don’t ignore them.
Advocates want, and deserve to be recognized, so you should be their voice; re-tweet their comments, post their insights on your websites, share their brightest ideas throughout your social networks and make sure to give them credit for all of their work.
7. Use social media to help you, not just to sell
Ask your consumers, “How can we help you?” and put actual customer service processes into place using social media for instant and ongoing engagement with your customers. Pay attention to them and address their needs early, often and publicly. The beauty of Social Media is that it allows customers another way of contacting businesses, so it’s your chance to demonstrate your customer service. Make sure your social team and customer service team are on the same page and communicate regularly and easily.
When you Integrate Customer Service with your social presence, you give your Brand Advocates the chance to have even more experiences to share with their own networks.
- The Next Frontiers in Social Media (grasshopper.com)
- 18m UK consumers have used social media for customer service (econsultancy.com)
- Executives are investing more in social media, but are they taking the right approach? (business.financialpost.com)
- Social Business for the CEO (superhypeblog.com)
- Why Just Service Customers When You Can Engage Them? (community.constantcontact.com)
- Using Pinterest to Fuel Small Businesses (prweb.com)