Tag Archive for loyalty

Building Loyalty- 4 Brands That are Doing it Right

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Building loyalty should be a priority to create a passionate branded community. In my opinion, it is one of the most important things to keep in mind when developing a strategy. People who are loyal to your brand become advocates and help you to promote the brand and broaden your audience. Having a small community of engaged core fans of the brand will be more valuable than having high visibility and an apathetic audience. When people are truly passionate about the company, the services, or the experience of the brand, it creates a community and is attractive to observers. This is where the role of a Community Managers comes in.

According to Work Smart Lifestyle’s post on strong social brands, to create this loyal following, you must connect with your audience and engage with them. It starts with a good product or service. You have to have a good product or compelling mission first in order for people to buy into your company. If they feel like your company values or brand vision aligns with theirs, they are more likely to champion your brand. This core idea ties into the concept of Lovemarks, where brands transcend the boundaries of a typical service and create a more meaningful connection to the people that follow them. This can be achieved by creating a brand experience and persona, and embodying it through social media outlets, blogs, internal services, and any other consumer touch points. A great brand will exceed expectations and provide value to their community.

Here are a few brands that have a very loyal fanbase:

 

Whole Foods

Whole Foods

Whole Foods, Whole Story

The core values of this grocery market is to provide its shoppers with high quality, organic food. The small grocery community crossed with national chain balances reliability with fresh food and a close community feel. They have established a strong brand identity, to the point where Whole Foods is associated with concrete attributes and characteristics. There is even a certain stigma of the people that shop at Whole Foods, though this is not necessarily a bad thing.

Whole Foods perpetuates the local, friendly community through their blog. They appeal to that niche target market and write posts on healthy, organic recipes. The website highlights issues such as sustainability, equal trade, and local community. In addition, the Co-CEO’s have blogs that support the vision, and sustain Whole Food’s image of a close community. Whole Foods uses blogging as a way to channel the mission of the organization and to support the community of Whole Food shoppers.

 

Chipotle

@ChipolteTweets reaches out to a tweeter with a complaint and makes a successful brand interaction

@ChipolteTweets reaches out to a tweeter with a complaint and makes a successful brand interaction

Chipotle taps into the trend of conscious fast food. They promote their use of natural ingredients and casual dining to create a brand identity. I know people who are obsessed-going to Chipotle is more like an event rather than a meal. Chipotle embodies the down-to-earth brand persona through their interactions on their twitter handle, @ChipolteTweets. They are one of the best companies for responding on twitter, in my opinion. They make everyone feel like their opinions are important to Chipotle, and builds strong relationships. This strategy engages the consumers the and creates loyalty with the fanbase.

 

YouTube

YouTubers on mainstage at VidCon Convention

YouTubers on mainstage at VidCon Convention

YouTube, the video platform, has progressed from the website people used to watch cat videos to a platform that supports rising YouTube personalities. YouTube is dependant on user content and user viewership, but they have become very smart in the way that they encourage loyalty and engagement. They now support content creators, certifying channels that have a large following and high quality content and even supporting them financially. These high-profile vloggers are then given credibility, which supports YouTube’s brand popularity. There is a sort of mutual benefit to the people YouTube chooses to support, and those people become YouTube’s Brand Ambassadors.

There is a definite hierarchy within the YouTube community, based on viewership and connections. The YouTube celebrities encourage viewers to create their own content to achieve YouTube fame, and to keep watching their favorite personalities on YouTube. The loyalty in the YouTube community is most apparent during conventions like Playlist Live and Vidcon, where masses converge from all over to meet their favorite YouTube stars.

 

Starbucks

Starbucks Reward Program App

Starbucks Reward Program App

photo 2 (1) photo 3 (1)

Like Whole foods, there is a stigma of frequent Starbuck consumers. People are crazy in love Starbucks, and this can be half attributed to the products, half to the community created through the love of Starbucks. They do amazingly well on branding and fostering loyalty with consumers.

An example of this is the Starbucks Reward Program, specifically through the app. The app notifies you when you are near your favourite Starbucks locations, and brings up your virtual card which you can scan to pay through the app. When you pay through the app, you are awarded a star, which accumulate to achieve different levels with increased rewards. This app rewards loyalists and enables an easy way for people to become loyal to Starbucks.

 

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