In “Emotional Branding,” one of the keynote presentations my clients request most often, I draw on my experience as a brand consultant to demonstrate that, rather than only touting features and benefits, messages that also engage the emotions foster greater returns on investment in communication. (For background, check out this blog on emotional branding and critical thinking; you can also view this video clip from my “Emotional Selling” presentation.) Essentially, to build brand loyalty in today’s corporate environment, it’s vital to humanize brands and businesses. Successful market players today develop corporate culture and personality that jives with that of their target publics in believable, consistent and easily-accessible ways.
Smart messaging about a truly useful product or honest, professional service helps sow the seeds of brand loyalty, as any brand consultant will advise. But with the explosion in platforms and possibilities that populate the modern mediascape, how does a product or producer get the right word out to the right subpublics, and in a way that builds loyalty? How does a brand interactively tap emotional branding?
When Facebookers Make Faces, And Why
Brands that understand the modern market have already established social media presences on predominant platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, on the advice of savvy brand consultants. Indeed, millennial consumers are not only driven by social media, they’re connected at the hip to it—and to communities of like minds who gather around ideas, concerns and causes in cyberspace. They are also connected to the brands that integrate into those conversations.
According to StackCommerce Insider, American adults spent a 2015 average of 5.6 hours a day online, of which at least 3 on social network sites. PCWorld reports that 68% of these adults also have smartphones. Factor in the fact that these statistics do not begin to address social networking among minors and teens, and the formula is clear: leveraging social media to create brand loyalty is a crucial component of any successful market communication strategy today.
Yes, social media marketing works, but only if you work it. A study by Zuberance shows that brand advocates drive 18% more real traffic and 33% more actual sales than do regular customers. But just having a Facebook page, for example, is by no means sufficient. That page needs engaging content to spur active interest, if it’s to attract new potential consumers and/or build enthusiasm among present ones.
Brand consultants across industries concur that strong social media management—the kind that produces real results—involves complex, comprehensive, long-term strategizing that accommodates target subpublics where they cybernetically are, and in ways that are convenient to their online and real-time lifestyles. Nevertheless, to build brand loyalty, any successful social marketing strategy pivots on monitoring and responding to social media activity, carefully curating content, and demonstrating an engaged, conscientious presence.
Speak Up When Spoken To
More than for any previous generations of consumers, instant gratification is indeed the order of the online day. 42% of those customers who engage a brand on social media expect a response within an hour of comment or query, and 32% give a brand only 30 minutes before expecting a reply. While seeming insistent and impatient, perhaps even impetuous, these often millennial cyber chatters also excel at building loyalty for their preferred products and services. Data from NM Incite shows that a whopping 71% of those customers who get a timely, attentive answer from a brand they engage online are likely to recommend said brand, compared with a scant 19% of those who do not.
Care What They Share, And Where
Prompt personal attention pays, as does providing engaging content that speaks to those shared interests beyond the sale, or even the selling points. Instant gratification is an emotionally-triggered response; millennial consumers respond to emotional branding precisely because it engages them in an immediately-felt way, and in an online environment where they can easily (over)share that reaction with others (as is the current trend).
Let Loyalists Create Content With You
Furthermore, comments, contests and the like that invite users to create content can generate yet more likes, shares and conversations. User-inspired topics and posts tend to speak more from, and to, the emotional space that brand loyalists share, and the brand actively and honestly participates in these exchanges. In this kind of managed yet authentic cyberspace, brand advocacy can quickly grow and thrive across platforms and subpublics.
The short story is that value-adding brand presence with longevity and momentum online neither establishes nor maintains itself. Brands with solid followings and broad, visible presence across the social media platforms that their customers use are those brands that engage both themselves and their consumers to create a space online where the brand shares in the emotional life of its advocates through interactive exchange.
To delve further into brand loyalty building through social media marketing in a presentation for your business, contact Scott Deming.