According to the 2017 Sensis Social Media Report1, 64 per cent of consumers are more likely to trust a brand if they interact with their customers in a positive way on social media.
This means that if you want to build customer loyalty and retention, engaging with your customers on social media is a must. The question is, how?
We asked community engagement expert, Deb Sinclair from Liquid Mango Consulting, for some expert advice.
“Your customers want to hear from you, but at the same time they don’t want to be bombarded by marketing and sales messages,” Deb says.
“We’re wired to connect and be social, and as much as this sounds like fun, it must be implemented strategically so you can achieve your business outcomes,” she says.
So how can you strike the perfect balance and connect with your community of customers, suppliers and stakeholders on a deeper level on social media?
Deb recommends the following four strategies, to help build trust and increase customer engagement.
1. Continue the conversation
“It doesn’t matter if a customer buys from you once, or you work with them for a year; get to know them, start conversations and do what you can to support them,” Deb says.
Of course, we all like to communicate in different ways – some of us favour email, others prefer phone calls, SMS or Facebook Messenger. As Deb explains, the key is reaching out via the appropriate channel.
“Whatever your customers' preference, be where they are, and make it easy for them to engage and communicate with you,” she says. “Don’t focus on the transactions, instead focus on building relationships.”
2. Get personal
To boost engagement, Deb recommends getting to know your customers on a personal level. “I’m not advising you to dive into every detail of their lives, but do ask them how they are, ask them about their family, about their weekend,” she says.
Remember, your customers are people, not numbers on a spreadsheet. “Get to know and understand what drives customers, and take the time to invest in them,” Deb advises.
3. Build trusting relationships
Research (Nature Communications, 2017) shows that kindness and generosity go a long way in business and life. Deb couldn’t agree more.
“Invest time in your customers and build relationships with them; this will build trust, credibility and you’ll be top of mind when your customers are ready to buy,” she says. “Emotionally connected customers will be more satisfied with your customer experience, and more likely to do business with you over a longer period of time.”
4. Provide a seamless customer experience
“It doesn’t matter if a customer walks into your business, calls you on the phone or interacts with you on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram – they expect a consistent experience at every touch point,” Deb says.
The expert recommends making sure that your branding and customer experience are seamless and consistent across all areas of your business. “This will allow you to deeply connect with your customers,” she says.
The main takeaway? “Social media is a communication and customer service tool,” Deb says. “Using it to build solid relationships with those that matter most will enrich your life and grow your business,” she says.
1 Sensis is a marketing services company in Australia that holds a wealth of data on small to medium businesses, social media and brands.