Social media for business comes down to one thing: creating brand advocates. Knowing that, why do so many companies make the same mistake of spending too much time targeting non-customers, and too little time engaging existing customers?
The New York Times best-selling author Jay Baer points this out in his article “The Truth About Social Media Strategy.” Ultimately, he proposes, “The role of social media is to turn people who like you into people who love you.” Why? Because people who love your brand are more inclined to bang the table for you in conversations, both online and offline.
In a September 2015 Nielsen report, 83 percent of respondents said they trust recommendations from family and friends, and 66 percent trust consumer opinions posted online. The more you appeal to your current customers, the more likely they are to think and talk and post positively about you. In turn, more new customers will come to you based on “word of mouth,” without you having to fish them out of the open waters.
But how do you effectively inspire your existing customers to become even stronger brand supporters? Below are four steps to get you started.
- Simplify Your Target Audience
First things first. You can’t have a “target” audience if you’re trying to reach everyone! Who are your current customers? Where are they most active on social media? What do they already know and like about your brand? Filter your objective to get a clear understanding of whom you want to reach, where, and why. Knowing your audience gives you a stronger sense of what they want and how to make them happy. By giving yourself a clearer starting point, you’ll increase opportunities for meaningful interactions, which will be on display for the world to see.
- Reshape Your Goals
Avoid treating social media as an avenue for sales pitches, and instead focus on relationships. Whether your goal is to increase your number of followers, generate more traffic to your website, or increase sales online, it all starts with your biggest brand supporters feeling valued. These people already have you top of mind, so return the favor and initiate two-way conversations with your fans. Say thanks. Solicit comment. Tell them they matter. When you show them you’re paying attention, they’ll direct others to you based on their own positive experiences.
- Monitor the Chatter
People are talking about your organization, regardless of whether you’re paying attention. If you’re not monitoring the conversations taking place about your brand across different social media channels, you’re wasting organic opportunities to connect and turn casual customers into loyal fans. Social media monitoring tools, like NUVI or even Google Analytics, provide perspective on reach as well as keywords and mentions that are driving conversations. Leverage these insights to guide your social media efforts and generate new posts. If you’re not listening, you can’t respond.
- Engage Everywhere
While it’s important to monitor your social media footprint, that alone is not enough. You should take action based on what that data tells you. The top channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn aren’t always the go-to spots for every brand’s target audience. New and interactive platforms—including Instagram, Snapchat, and Vine—continue to gather steam and may even be more important to your particular audience. Make sure you adapt to the trends and engage across all appropriate channels, using the best strategies for each. Different writing styles, scheduling times, and content work best across the various platforms, so do your homework!
Focusing your social media strategy on current customers isn’t about neglecting or shunning non-customers. Rather, building deep relationships with existing fans leads to deeply rooted brand advocacy that can’t be bought. Loyalty-driven grassroots campaigns are like epidemics, fashion trends, and odd slang (“YOLO,” “hella,” or “on fleek,” anyone?)—they spread like wildfire! So, get to know your existing customers and find out why they like you. Then engage with them, nurture their affection, and watch the social media love—and your fanbase—grow.
Lisa Hawes can be reached at email@example.com. You can also follow her on Twitter at @LisaKayHawes.