Customer experience has become a top priority for companies for 2019. Today’s consumers base their perception of a brand upon the meaningful moments they have with it. Importantly, those moments do not just happen at the checkout page, or on the service line.
Social media has emerged as a crucial touch point in building customer relationships. If used correctly, your social channels are more than just a way to respond to complaints. They are how you build lasting connections and brand loyalty.
Building customer relationships on social media
Brands have only just begun to unlock the full power of social. Channels such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are not simply for promotion. They can also be a way to connect with your customers.
Building customer relationships on social media helps brands to improve their bottom line. When consumers felt connected to brands, more than half increased their spending with that company.
So how do you begin developing these relationships?
- Listen before you talk
Building customer relationships is all about delivering value to your followers. If you can provide helpful, informative or even entertaining content, people will wish to connect with you. However, there are still many brands out there taking the ‘what is in it for me’ approach to social. If you are ready to flip the script start by listening to your audience.
- Respond quickly
Listening is just the first task, following it up with responding to what you hear. According to The Social Habit, 32% of customers expect a response within 30 minutes online.
Fail to address their concerns quick enough and you could see your customers’ anger spread across social media. Fortunately, there are tools that can help you to catch every message as they arrive in.
Speeding up your response time does more than just make your customer happy, it can also improve your revenue. A report by Twitter found that airlines responding to Tweets in 6 minutes or less earned customers willing to pay $20 more per fare.
Quick responses provide not only the speed and convenience that people crave, but also build your brand as one customer can trust and rely on when there is an issue. These are benefits that customers are willing to pay for.
- Personalize conversation
Whilst responding is essential, a standard automated message may not be enough. Bots can aid in showing your customers that you care about their problem, but only if you can follow up with human correspondence soon after.
Social media is an intimate method of connecting with your customers. It is where your followers also interact with friends and family members. People expect their discussions with brands to be just as comfortable as a message to a friend.
For brands building connections on social media, embrace personalization. When talking directly to customers:
- Use their first name when possible (it should be present on their profile)
- Sign off on comments with your team name or company name
- Be friendly – let your customers know that you are there for them
After the conversation, ensure you let your customer know you are not going anywhere. Leave them feeling happy that they spoke with you. Take this example from Nike, the customer found the resolution themselves, but the brand remained engaged and showed that they are available always. Nike replied to the person saying ‘Happy to hear you’re back in action. Give us a shout if you need anything else’.
- Show your human side
Do not reserve your unique personality for when you are speaking one-on-one with customers. Social media is home to where people can showcase their style and tone of voice.
Since human beings connect with other humans, not just faceless corporations, it is crucial to give your company a heart.
There a plenty of ways to show off your human side when building customer relationships on social media. For instance:
- Introduce people to your staff with photos, bios, names and stories
- Adopt a fun and friendly tone in your messages, complete with emoji if it fits your brand
- Take part in trends and discussions that your customers are interested in
Another method to show your human side is through video. Video is a direct insight into your team and people. With streaming features like Facebook Live and Instagram Live, you can deliver an unfiltered view of your company. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate your transparency as a brand. Try using video for Q&Q sessions with team members, behind the scenes snapshot and more.
- Reward your customers
Whilst building customer relationships it is worth showing them how much you appreciate them. Do not constantly bribe your followers, remember they are choosing you over all the other brands out there and that deserves a little love. An effective way to reward people is running competitions and contests.
Run an Instagram campaign that asks people to vote on their favorite product through a Stories poll. Try a Facebook contest where customers can share photos that also highlight your products. You will generate buzz around your brand and also learn more about your customers.
Competitions can even be used to expand your brand reach by asking people to tag a friend. Another way to show your appreciation of your customers is through a client of the month post or regular case studies. This type of content helps emphasize your customers’ achievement while also demonstrating how your product contributed.
- Make the most of feedback
With some luck, listening to customers on social will generate more positive comments than negative ones. However, there is always a chance that you will come across someone that is unhappy with your business. Rather than trying to sweep these negative issues under the rug, appreciate them for what they are.
They are great for building customer relationships on social media. Your audiences want you to know what is going wrong with your company, products or services so that you can fix it. Be sure to respond quickly to the constructive criticism customers have and you could transform even the most unhappy customer into a brand advocate.
All it takes is one great experience to remind your consumers of what they love about your brand. Remember to use the right tools to monitor mentions of your brand even from users who are not directly tagging or @mentioning you.
- Delight customers with something unexpected
Have you ever received a surprise gift from a friend or loved one? These small gestures make a world of difference to our relationships. It is the same with businesses. When you are building connections on social media, always look out for ways to go the extra mile.
Treat your followers on your most active social network, by giving them access to exclusive discounts, promotions or events. Everyone loves a deal and they will appreciate it even more if they feel like it is an exclusive.Going the extra mile could even be offering additional support before your follower even asks for it.
For example, Samsung Mobile US posts helpful guides on their Twitter page to get ahead of frequently asked questions and provides their audience with helpful resources.
Remember that going above and beyond for your customers takes more effort in the short-term. However, in the long-term, you will benefit from happier customers and a stronger brand.
- Embrace user generated content
Finally, when it comes to building customer relationships, there are a few things more crucial than respect. If you want your customers to remain loyal to you, you need them to see that you value their opinion. The easiest way to do this is with user-generated content (UCG).
User-generated content tells your followers that you take their views and ideas into account when building your brand. It is also a great method of building your social proof and generating sales. According to Photoslurp, user-generated photos are 5 times more likely to convert customers.
For example, Starbucks continuously re-shares and regrams content from their followers. The best way to use UGC is to ask your customers for ideas on what your business should conquer next.
This delivers inspiration to your team and gives you an insight into what people want from your company. When you bring your followers’ ideas to life, they will feel more invested in them, because they played a part.
Remember, if you do repost any content or use any ideas, you need to give credit where it is due.
According to Wunderman, 79% of customers say that they want brands to show that they understand and care about them prior to buying anything. Social media is the home for building connections with customers. It is an environment that is naturally intimate and where we celebrate the need to share. These tips will help you build customer relationships using social media.