Gone are the days when slick sales pitches and savvy one-liners could charm people into buying products. Today’s consumers are searching for something deeper — brands that provide value and create experiences.
This is because today's young consumers are motivated by experiences rather than material goods. They prefer to share, rather than own and see ownership as an optional luxury rather than the end goal. In fact, as many as 78% of millennials prefer experience to property, according to Harris Corp.
This is the driving force behind the sharing economy and the growing demand for marketing content that seeks to entertain or inform rather than merely sell.
That demand has found its home on social media, where communication has to be a two-way street in order to leave an impact. Any business or personality with a message to get across has to earn their audience’s attention—simply broadcasting isn't enough. This has led to the birth of inbound marketing as a strategy: getting potential customers to connect with your brand through helpful information, a powerful narrative, or entertainment value.
Deconstructing The Social Media Machine
The advantages of social media can be summarised into two main drivers: scope and pricing.
Social media is powerful because it offers brands access to billions of users (over 2.8 billion). That number can be refined and filtered to leave businesses with tens, to thousands, to hundreds of thousands of users that fit their target demographic. This enables businesses to market to an audience based on their location, interests, educational attainment, and age.
Moreover, all of this is available at staggeringly cost-efficient rates. For every thousand audience members reached, social media marketers spend $2.50. That’s half the equivalent cost for marketing on a billboard, and a quarter of the price of similar reach through radio. Newspapers and television price at $16 per thousand impressions, television at $28, and direct mail at $57.
There's a third reason why social media is a force to be reckoned with, and it owes itself to an idea we’ve touched on before: two-way communication.
On social media, interactions take place on a personal level. This dynamic provides the opportunity for brands to solicit feedback and encourage dialogue, and gives customers the means to voice their concerns. Over time, this creates trust and paves the way for healthy relationships between brands and their customers.
We’re goint to take you through different ways to build rapport and, eventually, establish loyalty between you and your customers. These are long-term strategies for sustainable results.
Start With ‘Why’
As we mentioned earlier, today’s consumers are far more concerned about value and experiences than previous generations.
What then can a brand offer in order to captivate its customers? The answer is: purpose, not products—and that begins at Why.
Great brands are what they are because of the purposes and goals they aspire to and the communities they create. For instance, Apple aims to “make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind,” whereas Facebook wants to “give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.” Nike, on the other hand, creates sportswear in order to “bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.”
These messages strike a chord because they have nothing to do with pushing a product. Rather, they allude to something that people want to be a part of – something with purpose.
Marketing consultant, author and motivational speaker, Simon Sinek outlines, this in an illustration he calls The Golden Circle. Essentially, what this tells us is before we think of what we do and how we do it, we must first consider why.
Sit down with your team and figure out a clearly-defined purpose. It doesn’t have to take the shape of a cheesy motto or a fancy mission statement; all it needs to be is sincere, genuine, and clear. And make sure it’s something you—and your team—truly believe in. If you’re not authentic, customers will see you coming from a mile away. They might even roast you for it.
Listen First, Sell Later
In this world of spammy emails and ice-cold cold calls, listening is a scarce commodity—which is why demand for it is so high.
Show your audience that they matter by listening to their reactions and asking them for input. These can be in the form of a Instagram Story questions, a Facebook comments section, or even a personal message. You’ll be surprised to see how these seemingly insignificant gestures can lead to long-term customer loyalty.
Social media is particularly effective for soliciting feedback because people actually want to be heard. Just go through your Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram feed and see what people are already telling you—maybe your service isn’t up to par or your new app has a lot of kinks, or maybe you’ve done something awesome and a customer just left a sweet thank you note. Whichever the case, you might see things you didn’t know were there in the first place.
Take a cue from any of these examples and watch your customer engagement skyrocket.
Design Content Around Customer Intent
Take listening to the next level and design your content based on what your customers are telling you: Do they have common questions and concerns? Is there growing interest around a particular topic? Any news they might want to know out about?
The brilliance of social media is its ability to show things happening in real-time and in an organised manner. That way, you can easily catch onto what’s going on with your target market.
Creating many forms of content isn't difficult, but ensure the content you're sharing fits with your strategy, brand and the medium. Twitter might be suited to something current, noteworthy, or just plain funny based on what’s going on. Instagram on the other hand is great for aspirational visuals demonstrating the experience your product or service creates (learn more about how Creatively Squared helps with this)
Rather than labour over which topics to post or content to share, test various types of written and visual content and let the people decide what they want. Besides, they would know better, right?
Create A Customer Experience Worth Sharing
Like it or not, customers will post about you on social media. Treat them miserably and they will let you know; treat them well, same deal.
Just how valuable is a good customer experience? This Twitter poll showed that customers were willing to pay significantly more to companies with good social media service—cha-ching! What is more, prompt and witty responses can make you go viral for all the right reasons.
Again, listen to what your customers are saying and respond as quickly as you can—the faster, the better.
Listen and respond
Building customer loyalty on social media isn’t nearly as complicated as people make it out to be. All brands really need to do is provide great value and memorable experiences, as opposed to merely selling.
Remember the core value of social media is in engagement with people, not marketing to them.
In the end, it all boils down to two very simple things: listening and responding.