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While attracting new leads and customers is essential for business growth, you can’t afford to ignore your existing customers. Their loyalty is what will help you drive sales, traffic and positive word of mouth for your brand. If you’re not sure how to turn new customers into loyal ones, here are a few tips to get started.=

  • Educate and add value to your customers

It’s the first rule of social media, so it’s no surprise that we think it’s essential for building customer loyalty. Sharing information that is useful, interesting and relevant to your customers will keep them engaged and allow you to build a strong, lasting business relationship.

Try to develop high-quality content on a regular basis and create a strategy to align the content you create to your business objectives. Every piece of content you share on social media should add value to your customer’s lives in some way, whether it’s providing useful skincare tips or helping them understand the latest changes to the tax system.

  • Use social media as a customer service tool

These days, customer service on social media isn’t an added bonus, it’s standard practice. People expect brands to listen, care and respond in a timely manner, regardless of whether they’ve purchased their products or services or not. In fact, a study by Social Habit found that customers expect a direct response to a question or concern almost straight away, with 42% of respondents expecting a response within an hour and 32% expecting a response within 30 minutes.

Research also shows that 71% of people who experience a quick and effective response to their question or concern on social media are likely to recommend that brand to other people, compared to just 19% of people who don’t receive a response. If you’re looking to build engagement and loyalty on social media, listening and responding to customers is a must.

You should also make sure your customer service practices are integrated across all channels, so someone who tweets or posts on Facebook receives the information as they would if they called your helpdesk or sent an email. This may mean training your team, delegating your community management or setting up new policies for your business.

  • Make it easy for people to connect with you

To build brand loyalty, you need to make it easy for people to connect with you on social media and find information about your products and services. Are your social media icons visible on your website and do the links work? Have you described your business well in social media bios and included a link to your website? Are the names of your social media accounts the same as your brand name, so customers can find you easily in the search results?

The easier you make it for customers to find and follow you online, the more likely they are to do so. Once they’re part of your online community, you need to make sure you’re adding value at every opportunity. It takes less than a second for customers to unfollow your brand, so you need to make sure there’s no reason for them to consider it.

According to a study by Fractl and Buzzstream in 2015 titled ‘The Unfollow Algorithm’, most people will unfollow brands for the following reasons:

  • the content is repetitive and boring
  • the page posts too frequently
  • my news feed is crowded and I want less clutter
  • the brand’s activities offended me
  • the content is irrelevant to the brand
  • the brand is slow or does not respond to comments
  • I found a competing brand I’d rather follow.

If you maintain best practice when it comes to social media and continue to meet the needs of your community, you’ll reduce the risk of people unfollowing your brand online.

  • Invest in your social media team

Many business owners think they can manage social media on their own, but soon realise it’s something that constantly falls to the bottom of their to-do list. If you want to start seeing results, you need to invest in a dedicated person or team to manage your social media channels. They can focus on customer service, issues management, social media strategy and content marketing.

It may seem like a big investment, but it will certainly pay off in the long run. Monitoring and managing your social media channels will help you improve customer service, quickly solve any problems and understand what your customers are looking for in your products and services. Most importantly, it shows existing and future customers that you care about what they think and places the customer at the centre of your business, rather than at the bottom of a list of more important things to do.

  • Give your community a reason to be loyal

If you want your community to engage with you on social media, you need to give them a reason to stick around. This means providing them with a positive and rewarding experience that goes beyond advertising your products or services. Consider what you can offer that will make it worthwhile for your fans and followers to continue engaging with your brand online. Can you give them a behind the scenes look at your business, or a sneak peek into your latest product or service? What about giving a shout-out to your most valuable customers, or sharing an exclusive offer?

If you take the time to give back to your community, they’ll be far more likely to share your content and engage with your brand. Something as simple as a like, favourite or ‘thank you’ can make a huge difference and allow you to develop strong relationships with your customers that will transform into long-lasting loyalty to your brand.

Debra Sinclair | Business | April 7, 2016 | Customer Loyalty

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