3 Steps for Building Loyalty with Social Media Marketing
Social media is where brand affinity is built and nurtured. Historically, many marketers have conflated a high follower count with brand love—but this is not necessarily the case. A better measure of brand love in social media is healthy engagement: likes, follows, comments, shares, and clicks. A brand with a highly engaged fan base of 50,000 followers is more effective on social media than one with a million followers whose fans don’t actively engage.
Conversely, a brand with a significant following and low engagement should consider revisiting its social media content and strategy. In this scenario, an audit and reformulation are in order.
1. Determine Your Audience
Your brand needs to identify its people. Who is your core audience? Start with first-party data available through CRM, loyalty apps, current social media analytics, and Google Analytics. Mine product or brand reviews and consumer research and consider leveraging a social listening tool to track mentions and conversations related to your brand.
Use this data to identify the key demographics you believe would be interested in the brand. Age, income, location, and anything that speaks to the culture of that demographic online are core to understanding who those personas are. Which personas do you believe your restaurant can win on social media? Which social channels are they more likely to engage with? How do these personas engage with social media?
This will inform several aspects of your strategy, including which channels are a priority for your personas (and, by extension, brand). This will also inform how content is made culturally relevant to those personas. Robust social media programs nestle into—and amplify—the culture of their target audience.
2. Establish Your Brand Voice
Every brand has a “voice,” and it’s critical to establish what yours is. Defining this voice will make developing meaningful, engaging content much easier moving forward. Start with establishing brand purpose, asking these five questions:
What makes your brand unique?
What differentiates restaurant A from restaurant B? Why do consumers choose to dine with you? Perhaps it’s the experience, signature menu items, or the company culture. This should be something bigger than “we are the only wing shop within 30 miles.”
What desire can the brand fulfill?
A clear understanding of what makes your brand desirable to consumers is critical to developing an effective social media program. For example, convenience retailer Wawa has developed a strong food service and convenience offering over the years. Now a “Wawa Run” is part of the brand experience: customers can always get their favorite treats, from specialty coffees on the work commute to grabbing a hoagie for lunch.
What is the brand’s unique proposition in a consumer’s life?
Think about how your brand can functionally solve a problem for your consumer. In the case of Wawa, guests can grab dinner, catering for the big game, or a great cup of coffee in the morning. The key is understanding the customer’s needs and how you can meet them.
What do your customers come to you for?
Consumers have both functional and emotional needs. Of course, they are visiting a restaurant for the functional purpose of ordering food. But with so many choices, brands must also provide an emotional reward. People remember how they feel when they have a good experience—a fact you can use to associate positive emotions with your brand.
3. Start Small and Scale Up
Before embarking on a social media marketing strategy, ask these questions not only of the people creating the content but of all stakeholders. After the discovery process, you should clearly understand what makes your brand unique, what desire you can fulfill, and how you can appeal to guests’ emotional and functional needs.
Laying this foundation will save time in the long run and keep your social media efforts focused. Remember: Your value proposition can get lost if you stray too far from the brand purpose.
No matter how tempting, don’t blast the same content to every channel. If you lack the bandwidth to manage several channels, focus on no more than two. It’s better to focus on one channel and do that well than to do a lackluster job all around.
Social media marketing doesn’t have to be overwhelming—less can be more. The goal is to build brand trust with your consumer over time. Navigating interactions on social platforms is a learning experience that can involve a steep curve, but brands who stick with it almost always realize benefits. Fifty-seven percent of consumers spend more with brands they follow on social media—and even after a bad interaction, 40 percent will give that brand a second chance. That’s the value of building loyalty and brand trust through social media.
Ariel Norwood is senior director, marketing engagement, at Bounteous, where she leads a team of award-winning social media experts, who drive success for some of the world’s most recognizable brands.