Communicating with customers is key to their journey with your brand. When, where and how they want you to communicate with them are all key components in the customer lifecycle. Studies show that it takes about 6-7 impressions on an average for a customer to become aware of your brand. Each time, a brand has less than 5 seconds to grab a customer’s attention, and less than 10 seconds to make an impact. While advertisements are key, humanising your brand on social media and interacting with customers like a normal human being gives your brand a personality.

Social media is becoming an increasingly powerful consumer forum. It’s not just about posting ads and updates, but about engaging with your customers. Brands can either meet their dead-end here or turn it into a promotional platform. They can listen, empathise, apologise and respond in the NOW like never before. And who better than the Nikes, Starbucks, and Netflixs to lead the way!

While immediate solutions are the best, it might not be realistically possible for all brands. However, responding at the earliest with updates and acknowledgments is critical. Resolutions come second.

Show that you are listening

Nike totally justifies the cost of its shoes by making the exercising sound so much fun simply by engaging with its customers. Starbucks, Netflix and Amazon practically speak their customers’ language while responding via social media. While big brands do this pretty well, there are smaller start-ups too that are making the cut.

An impressive interaction that I recently was familiarised with is by a furnishings and electronics rental start-up. The brand has been facing the regular hiccups of a start-up, ramping its staff to deliver to customers’ satisfaction. Even as the brand is working hard to fix the logistics issues around the delivery and pick-up of products, it ensures that all concerns aired on its Facebook handle are answered in a quick time.

Even as customers continue to rant on its Facebook handle, there is always hope that the company will resolve its problems owing to their swift response. So much so that the company’s Facebook page has become a de facto customer service page for the brand. And the reason? Simply because it is not a robotic response crafted by a PR firm that pops up in response, but an actual human that intends to find a resolution.

Through all this melee, the brand is continuing to grow and become popular simply by engaging with its customers by not just resolving problems, but posting status updates. Their authenticity, humaneness, and transparency inspires people to connect, engage and buy from them. After all, social conversations around your brand also help the company and prospective customers gain insights into your brand’s products, services, customer interests, preferences and pain points.

Build a community to build a brand

Humans of Bombay, Humans of New York – these are examples of media houses leveraging only social media to create a community that understands one another, and even comes to the aide of one another when in need – no questions asked about authenticity because the brand has established it by creating a community of like-minded people, thus building its brand.

Such is the story with a Nike or Amazon, or Starbucks, an Apple or even a Netflix as the official social media channels of these brands are used as a platform by the company to interact with its customers regularly. They may be simple conversations, addressing concerns and directing customers towards the right help desks, posting updates on resolutions, having funny chats just to keep customers engaged – all with the sole purpose of creating a sense of oneness among its social community. Nike goes one step further by creating social channels for each of its products, and not surprisingly the engagement levels there are so high that even the brand’s main page falls shy.

Let me take you back to 2015 when there was an uproar around Maggi noodles and the product was banned in India. After passing the food safety tests, Maggi made a comeback in the Indian market. The community that the brand built socially over the years was so strong, that Maggi’s return was almost hailed as that of a hero’s. Take a look at the Tweet below:

Now you may argue that generating and managing social content in the B2C sector is easier than B2B. But Adobe has done just that by engaging with its social community via user-created content. IBM tells stories of people who depend on its technology.

Be it B2B or B2C, if you look at the common thread binding the social presence of these brands, it is their focus on their value proposition and appealing to the emotions of their customers.

Exude Your Brand’s DNA Online & Offline

The quality of your customer service plays a big role in determining how people feel about your brand. Make sure you show your customers the same experience both online and offline. Look to Starbucks for inspiration. They make their customers feel cared for in-store and on social media, so you just know that that’s the brand’s DNA.

Branding is all about authenticity, transparency and consistency. Successful brands ensure that what they say (advertising and communications), what they do (delivery of experiences and propositions) and who they are at their core (internal culture) is aligned and consistent regardless of channel or medium. Engaged Strategy’s Total Engagement Model helps brands strengthen their customer value proposition (CVP) and align these three core elements of their DNA to their CVP via best practice solutions.

Customer loyalty towards a brand is incredibly important. From the fishmonger in the community market to the Amazons of the world, every business thrives on customer loyalty. Social media is the latest tool that can boost your brand’s success in retaining customers and help you build the loyalty factor if done correctly by focusing on these three important aspects discussed here:

  • Listen to your customers
  • Build a community aligned to your brand belief and that your customers can relate
  • Be authentic – do what you say and say what you do

After all, the more social you are, the more you show that you care about your customers, the more that your brand as a whole portrays that its culture is the same online and offline, only then does the positive energy surrounding your brand begin to grow and enhance.