updated: Mar 7, 2013
Establish your brand and build customer loyalty
The whole objective is to increase customer loyalty and establish your ‘brand’: What are you all about? Who are your ideal customers and what do you offer that gets them excited?
Social Media provides for an unprecedented level of communication with your customers and, when done right, has been shown to dramatically increase customer loyalty (by 45% according to a published university study).
But what about public complaints? This should be considered an opportunity and not a risk. Bad experiences are going to happen. Everyone makes mistakes. And people are going to talk, post and tweet about it. Now you have an opportunity to respond. Would you rather not know that a customer has been talking and writing about a negative experience, or would you rather have the opportunity to address it right away? You can often turn a problem into an opportunity to show that you care - you can respond publicly and not have a disgruntled customer ‘spread the word’ without you even knowing.
Provide interesting, timely and useful information
What type of information do you want to share? You want to engage your customers so that they have a strong loyalty to you and your business and are more likely to participate in events and special promotions. Below are examples of the type of information you should share:
Events: Remind customers of important events with specific start and end times. Facebook allows you to create events and invite your fans. But to get the most out of these events, you should have reminders posted weeks before, the day before and the day of the event. You do not want to over-do this; this should not be used for weekly specials or frequent events. The idea is to draw attention to an important event that you are inviting customers to attend. They can be associated with:
- Education: product demo, cooking class, wine pairing, scotch tasting…
- Holidays: Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, New Years…
- Sports: Super Bowl, World Series, playoffs…
- Entertainment: live entertainment, book reading, comedy…
Promotions: Special offers are always appreciated and should be communicated through ‘posts’ and ‘tweets’. You can also encourage customers to become fans by providing “insider information“ - give promotions that only your fans are aware of, and require a special code word or phrase to get the deal. Example:
“We want to show our appreciation to our great fans. Come in today and order Nachos and say the secret fan appreciation word ‘Nacholicious’ and get them for half price”
Posts related to things happening in your community that you can tie into your brand. Examples:
“Come by for a pint before the big game”
“Drop in after you vote and watch the results with us”
“We have some special Halloween treats for our first 100 customers”
“In honour of all our new graduates, we have a special on…”
Customer activities you can tie to your brand: customer sport teams, charity drives, etc. Post winners or team standings. Update customers on the progress of a charity drive.
Ask questions to encourage dialogue. This dialogue is usually in the form of comments on your posts or responses to your tweets. Any dialogue you can generate is very valuable as all of their friends or followers see the dialog and become aware of your brand and page. You can reach well beyond your current fans and it is really a form of referral or endorsement. Make sure the question is easy to answer! Examples:
“Which of our products do you like better?”
“Who is going to win the World Series?”
“Is Cod fish better than Halibut for fish and chips?”
“What’s better, English wine or French beer?”
Provide interesting facts: origins of a product, regional variations, history of a beer brand, ingredients to a recipe, or any other fact or trivia that may be relevant to your brand.
Pictures: add a picture wherever possible as it always gets more attention. Data clearly shows that people notice and recall posts with pictures significantly more than posts without pictures.
Celebrate milestones in your business: number of customers, years of operation, facebook fans!
How often and when?
Research has shown that it is best that you ‘post’ and ‘tweet’ at least once a day. The trend is towards more frequent tweets as these messages are so short. Twice daily Facebook posts seems to be optimal. If you leave days between updates, you will lose the brand awareness and the visibility you are trying to establish. However, you do not want to over do it and annoy your customers as they may ‘un-like’ or ‘un-follow’ you, or ‘hide’ your updates in their news feed.
The timing of the updates is very important as this will dramatically increase the likelihood of being seen. Research has shown that the best times of the day to post to Facebook are:
- 11 am - presumably people checking Facebook before lunch
- 4 pm - at the end of a work day…
- 8 pm - after dinner
There are times when an earlier or later reminder might be appropriate. The above times are only guidelines. The point is, think a little bit about when your customers are likely to see the update and give them time to respond accordingly.
Social media such as Facebook and Twitter provide you with new opportunities to communicate with your customers. If you do it right, it can be way more effective and less expensive than the ‘old media’ (newspaper, radio and TV). Research clearly shows that a referral from someone you know is 5 to 7 times more effective than advertising!