When I think about what makes social media so unique, I always come back to one thing: relationships. Nowadays, getting to know your audiences and building relationships with them is easier than ever. Through social media and analytics, marketers can understand their audience base in ways we never could before.
Let’s take a look at the numbers that prove the value of social media further. Social Media Today reports that social media users have risen by 176M in the last year, with 12 new active mobile social users joining every second. A study by Universal McCann found that 71% of social media users are more likely to purchase from a brand they follow online. And with 78% of the U.S. population having at least on social networking profile, it’s a channel you can’t afford not to invest in.
You simply need to be where your audience is to stay relevant and remain profitable. It’s no secret that the majority of your buyer’s journey is self-directed. People self-educate online, searching for as much information as possible about the products and services they want before they purchase. In order to capitalize on that behavior, you now need to show your audience some love.
Engaging on social media platforms can feel overwhelming at times. People are seeing streams with thousands of posts every day. So how do you make sure your brand stands out?
Here are four ways to create lasting relationships with your followers on social media:
1. Establish a Voice
Why does a brand voice matter? It’s important to establish a tone of voice for your brand to maintain consistency in the position you’re taking as an authority or expert in a certain field. In fact, 64% of people who have a relationship with a brand cite shared values as the primary reason for it, according to Harvard Business Review.
Take a look at your company mission statement and see what values resonate with your company culture, then incorporate that tone in your day-to-day messaging. Once you’re clear on your company values, take time to research and understand your audience. Follow trending conversations to see if there are certain values that are important to your prospects and customers. By highlighting how those values align with your brand, you can increase loyalty.
2. Show Up
Brands who engage on social media channels enjoy higher loyalty rates from their customers. Audience engagement shows you’re not a robot, mindlessly pushing company messaging. Rather, there’s something behind the brand–a voice. People are looking for reasons to connect with a brand, so give them many.
These are a few different ways you can engage with your audience across social media:
- Initiate and contribute to ongoing conversations and become part of the story.
- Look for ways to show up in different social channels, from using trending hashtags to participating in top-of-mind discussions.
- Favorite or like when people share their photos and ideas.
- Respond when your followers incorporate you into their day-to-day conversations. This could be something as simple as a retweet, like, or favorite.
- Comment when you see funny or relevant content.
3. Share Relevant Content
Social media is the megaphone for content. However, all the yelling in the world isn’t going to matter if the content you’re providing isn’t interesting, relevant, or authentic. In fact, 91% of consumers most value honesty about product and services, according to Cohn & Wolfe’s Authentic Brands Report.
So how do you put your audience’s interests first? There are several tools out there to help you evaluate your audience demographics to understand what they’re interested in and how you can deliver it. Perhaps the easiest one is a social media channel’s native analytics dashboard. You can gain insights into your audience demographics such as age, interests, profession, location, to name a few. By understanding and engaging with your audience based on their demographics, you can consciously build meaningful relationships. Always be asking yourself if what you’re posting will resonate with your audience. Will it empower them in any way? Are you providing them with something they’ll care about? If your audience finds value, they’ll continue to come back.
4. Customer Service
Social is the new front line, providing you the opportunity to actively listen for both positive and negative feedback. Research from Lithium Technologies found that 70% of users expect to hear back from the brand they’re interacting with on Twitter, and 53% want a response within the hour. And if they don’t hear back, there are major consequences. The majority of respondents said they would tell their friends and family about the experience and escalate concerns through other forms of communication. This means that you not only need to have a social media presence, but be actively listening and engaging as well.
Jay Baer recently addressed this in his new book “Hug Your Haters.” He recommends businesses leave no complaint unaddressed. In doing so, you have the opportunity to create a deeper brand experience. And on the other side of the coin, showing love to your enthusiastic following is just as important. Take the time to acknowledge people who are mentioning and advocating for your brand by responding to them. Acknowledging posts, direct messages, and comments broadens your relationship and creates a sense of community with your followers.
Social media is no longer “new” but it’s star is continuing to rise as it increasingly becomes a preferred channel for communication. Utilizing your social media channels to build relationships will help you in your journey to increase your reach, build your brand, and expand your customer network. So make sure you’re consistently looking for new and innovative ways to build relationships with your audience and increase engagement. Provide them what they’re looking for with great, quality, consistent content they can learn from. Value those relationships, nurture them, continue to remain engaged, and hopefully when they’re ready to buy, they’ll think of you.