Daily Archives: April 15, 2013

I Love This Brand, and You Should Too.

Building a brand requires the company to build a relationship with their customers. They must take the time and use their resources to establish a dialog with each and every consumer that conducts business with their company every day. Each interaction with a customer can have a profound impact on their opinion of your entire company based on their feedback, which they will share to their friends, family, and their own online community.

Photo by Valerie Everett

Photo by Valerie Everett

Who needs loyalty these days?

According to Britt Michaelian’s article from WorkSmartLifeStyle, “When you build a brand, one of the most important aspects of being successful is building a community of brand loyalists who will listen to your words, read your posts, show up at your events, purchase your offerings and connect with like-minded individuals.” In order to establish such loyalty, a company must create an active relationship with their community; a feeling of being wanted and needed in the community. With the age of social media upon us, reaching many people that may be interested in your community is easy, but making them invest their time is difficult and requires a significant amount of dedication in the business.

Connecting with your audience is key, which will drive their interest in your brand and product(s). Another article written by Britt Michaelian includes a list of ways to connect with an audience through social media, some of which I found very interesting. Here are a few that I think are the most important items out of his list:

  • Engage in meaningful conversations with their followers on a consistent basis.
  • Keep social exchanges positive and uplifting.
  • Don’t just broadcast an advertisement, connect with the followers and establish a long-term relationship with them.
  • Don’t be afraid to make a mistake.
  • Without their audience, the message will not be heard; express and show gratitude often.

I think one of the most important on the list is engaging in meaningful conversations with your followers. I currently follow over 50 businesses on Twitter, the majority of which post advertisements 90% of the time. Majority of the businesses seem to use Twitter as a central hub for their latest headlines and/or marketing campaigns, which is understandable, but lacking on relationship development. Due to their apathy, I generally disregard their posts and feel as though I don’t matter to their bottom line.

I’m currently working on establishing my own brand for my consulting business, Billington Consulting,LLC, which requires me to post daily on Twitter and Facebook. Creating a community is difficult, especially when your initial members will consist mainly of your clients. Throughout Britt Michaelian’s articles, he indicates that building your brand is like raising a child; both require time, effort, energy, and some “love”.

Outreach and Loyalty

While expanding a community and attempting to establish new relationships with potential customers, a Community Manager must understand their audience prior to engagement. Reaching out in an informal sense through social media sites (i.e. Twitter) is a great way to begin dialog. Erica Moss’s article contains some great ways to engage bloggers that may have their own followers, which will enable the brand to reach multiple audiences.

Overall, loyalty ensures that customers will champion the brand and any products that they purchase. Concentrating on your target audience is a good start and remember that not everyone outside of your target audience will like the brand and/or its products. As a Community Manager, we can utilize social media to develop the dialog with our customers that can lead to a long-term relationship

Tips to Gain Brand Loyalty

So you want people to get to know and love your brand. Creating a reason to be loyal is the first step. Traditionally, PR and Advertising have carried this load but the internet has brought a new dimension of contact and influence with online marketing and outreach via social media. We all want to know how to get a big slice of that pie, don’t we? Creating brand loyalty is a giant step towards getting help from your following. Some keys to this are trust and confidence in you and your brand.

 

  •  Do some research to find out where your ambassadors are. Where are people talking about you and what are they saying? This will give you an idea of what motivates them. Ask them about their interests.
  • Encourage your community to give input and state opinions on posts and shared information. Make it relevant to their lives and they will continue to return for more interactions.
  • Find interesting topics for them to interact with each other. This will help in building relationships within the community. We all like to hang out “where everybody knows our name“.
  • Be a part of the action, reply to comments and encourage members to engage.

 

Value by alshepmcr

 

Words of wisdom from Britt Michaelian  – “when the facilitator of the community is thoughtful about making the community about the group and not their own need for a “flock”, the group will respond to the space that the community leader creates for each member of the community to flourish.” This just plain makes sense! Think of your own experiences in an online community and I am sure you will relate to this. Don’t you value being heard and acknowledged, I know I do.

Loyalty comes from a feeling of connection.” [BM]

As the community grows, you will easily identify frequent commentator, brand advocates that are destine to become ambassadors for your brand. These are people that talk to others in the community and out of the community. You will hear and see them on other platforms singing your brands praises and sharing that love with all the world. These are the people you want to recognize and reward. Be sure to thank them publicly and frequently. They will be engaging with other community members (or members to be) and you want them to to nothing but good to say about your brand. You can also have offline meetups where the relationships can grow and the community will become more connected with these vocal brand advocates/ambassadors.

brand ambassador

Find brand ambassadors within your community is one way to get the word out, but there are others. Connecting with communities that share a common interest is another. Take time to chat in be interested in their community and they may very well look into yours. You can also recruit people that blog or write for online publications to become brand ambassadors after you have spent time creating a relationship and finding a fit for both of you. Most importantly, don’t forget the rewards. Rewards don’t need to be extravagant, but they should be meaningful.

 

rewards str8 ahead

 

Be a giver to your community. Offer meaningful rewards and watch your community respond.  Here are some suggestions for rewards:

  • Offer free tickets to an upcoming event that you are having
  • Offer a badge after they recommend people to your community.
  • Create an “ambassador” program that has special events of chats by invitation only
  • Create a points system for referrals to the community

There are many ways to reward you brand ambassadors, just be as creative as you can. If you need more reasons to do this take a look at what this article has to say. Remember, communities are all about relationships. Be yourself, introduce interesting topics and interact with with everyone who comments on your post. This is a sure way to create the experience you and your community are looking for.