With the vastness of the internet and being able to get any product or service at the touch of the button — and delivered to your house too — it’s hard to be the top dog when it comes to your industry. That’s where brand loyalty comes in. Developing buyers that will either come back multiple times or refer you is everything — especially when they can help spread the word for you on the Internet.
Without further adieu, here are five ways you can inspire brand loyalty:
1) Be Likeable In Person AND Online
The single best thing you can do to inspire loyalty for your brand is to be both personally involved and likeable.
By personally involved, I mean that you actually can be seen doing work for your business. Founding father Benjamin Franklin’s efforts to be seen doing his work as a printer paid off when a prominent Philadelphians noted his work ethic, according to Walter Isaacson’s biography. But a portion of it was for show, as Isaacson noted: “Franklin became an apostle of being — and, just as important, of appearing to be — industrious.”
You can prove your industriousness by both being seen in person and snapping an occasional photo of yourself hard at work and posting it on your social media accounts.
Part of being likeable is just talking to folks. Again, this needs to be done in person (if you have the kind of business where you do some face-to-face work) and on the web.
But, especially if you’re a small business, you can’t under look being involved and known in your community (particularly with the buying local trend). I cannot tell you how much easier it is to manage social media accounts for someone who has a strong connection with the community versus someone who doesn’t.
2) Develop Thought Leadership Within Your Niche
Something you’re going to have to come to peace with when it comes to online marketing is that you’re not always going to see your return on your investment. Why? Because when it comes down to it, consumers may not need your product or service often enough.
It’s also very possible that you have a wonderful product or service, but the same product or service can either be cheaper or done just as well somewhere else.
This is where thought leadership comes in. Even if a consumer isn’t going to purchase something from you, you want them to look to you for information, tips, and fun tidbits related to your field. (Blogging is a great way to do this.) That way, they’ll come to you first when they do need your products or services and they’ll hopefully recommend you to someone they know who does need your products or services.
3) Be Accessible
Let’s be real — we all hate automated call systems where the option you want isn’t on the list, you have a really specific question, or the voice recognition software doesn’t understand you. We like talking to a real, live person who gives us answers, feedback, and gets things done in a timely matter.
Though you probably don’t have this automated system for your business, you can see where I’m going here.
Being accessible for questions and comments via phone, email, and social media is important to the customer. And reasonable solutions — and possibly discounts — for mishaps are also important. That shows the customer that you’re dedicated to both helping them and doing things right.
4) Stay Connected
Because of the fact that people as individuals are always connected to their social media platforms, you need to be connected as a business, too. That way, you can field any negative mentions of your brand, you can better meet consumers’ customer service needs, you can create brand awareness, and you can become a thought leader in your field.
It’s pretty obvious that you need a website — and there are some more budget friendly and easy solutions for this. But, you also need a presence on a few social media platforms. Which ones you’re going to want to use depends on the demographic of your consumers, the kind of business you are, whether you’re B2B or B2C, and various other factors. However, you can always do trial-and-error to figure out what works best for you.
Most importantly, you need to keep up with it. You can’t tweet or Facebook once a month. If doing this on a consistent basis is difficult for you, consider spending half an hour each week scheduling posts via HootSuite.
5) Be Interactive
OK, here’s the hard part with creating brand loyalty via social media. Being interactive is hard and differs from brand to brand.
But, the first thing you have to do is answer all questions or responses on social media platforms. Next, you can create a discussion around your brand by doing comparisons. (Example: do you like thing number one or thing number two?) Lastly, you can create a discussion around your brand fueled by others. A great way to do this is through contests.
Some brands will do this by giving out a $10 gift card once a month to a random user who is taking photos of their product and using their hash tag. Others do things like feature users who’ve used a certain hash tag on their social media page.
These are just five ways that we have identified to inspire loyalty. There are many other things a business can do in order to create brand loyalty and we would love to hear your opinion. Let us know some other ways you have successfully managed to inspire loyalty for you and your business.