Much has been made of arguably elusive, fickle and distrustful social consumers equally adept at social media, exposing your products or services, and moving on to the latest social technology. Yet approached appropriately, the media-savvy consumer is equally disposed to serve as your brand champion using their own social media channels. Here’s a breakdown of how to inspire such a relationship based on your engagement goals and tactics.
CONSUMER ENGAGEMENT GOALS: In terms of deeply connecting with your customers and building a community that will drive the success and profit of your brand, here are the engagement goals.
1. Develop/maintain deep customer relationships around their core issues and values.
2. Determine and commit to what investment/budget/staff are required to find/engage/retain customers.
3. Explore how engagement strategies differ across social media channels and strategize accordingly.
4. Explore how these engagement strategies change depending on how customers respond and manage them consistently.
5. Provide ever more personalized services, products and experiences to customers.
6. Structure your team to respond to customers in real time, especially the critics.
7. Regularly measure brand reputation, customer satisfaction and ROI to ensure the sustainability of your business and customer community.
8. Maintain the sales/life balance in your content throughout so that your brand has personality as well as products and services to sell.
CONSUMER ENGAGEMENT TACTICS: In terms of the content you provide and the tactics you use to generate engagement, here are several suggestions:
1. Always answer questions from customers and educate new ones about your brand.
2. Celebrate what other brands do, even your competitors, as it fortifies your brand confidence and leadership position.
3. Ask your community for opinions, feedback, and criticism on a regular basis.
4. Start conversations that other brands wouldn’t consider to spark engagement.
5. Host competitions, rewards, polls or incentive programs to reward your customers.
6. Do something surprising for a customer occasionally just for the fun of it.
7. Celebrate your brand advocates across the community providing them with social capital.
8. Periodically restate what your brand stands for to reconnect with the values you share with your community.
With the right goals in mind, astute tactics in place, and a constant eye on measurement to motivate management, the social customer is far less elusive, threatening or fickle than you imagine. Once you identify the values your share with your customers and the common purpose you are working towards, your brand will become an indispensible part of their identity and lives.
It is only a small mention in the article but I wanted to point out that communicating the social impact your brand already has on its community can also be one of the most profitable activities for a company as well as a way to increase consumer engagement. According to research I found summarized in an article published by the W. P. Carey School of Business, consumers are willing to pay more for identical products if the company that is selling the product has strong values consumers support. One point not covered in this story that is increasingly important as we look at the aftermath of the Chick-fil-a scandal, companies need to be careful about what values they choose to communicate. You do not want to alienate part of your consumer base to make a political statement. Instead, it is best to stick with causes that everyone supports such as cancer research or ending child abuse in your community. Consumers are “voting” with their money – they want companies with a heart.
If you would like to read about even more benefits of communicating your social impact you can find the article I was reading here: http://knowwpcarey.com/article.cfm?cid=25&aid=1069