2013 was a year of exploration for brands on social media. From testing Vines to launching Instagram ads, many companies were dabbling in social media efforts across the Web just to see how customers would react. Now, in 2014, brands are geting serious. They’re using the wealth of data as well as the human connection that social media can provide to develop deeper relationships with customers.
Here are seven ways brands are using social media to increase customer loyalty this year.
1. Social Listening
People are increasingly turning to social media to report their grievances with companies. And when complaints are lodged in such a public manner, brands are learning the hard way not to put social media customer service on the back burner. This is why 24% of brands plan to participate in “social listening,” or paying attention to what’s being said about them on social networks like Twitter. While this means brands and customers are now more likely than ever to interact online, brands are still figuring out how to make social listening work in their favor: only 31% of marketers think their social listening is fully effective.
2. Social Advertising
The internet has begun to fragment the way brands spend on advertising. While television used to receive the lion’s share of advertising dollars, brands are beginning to understand how to leverage social media ads in a cost-effective way to build business. This year 80% of brands are expected to advertise on social media sites, a 23% increase over last year.
3. Data-Based Marketing
Unlike traditional forms of marketing such as television spots, billboards, and newspaper ads, social advertising offers real-time analytics on the effectiveness of campaigns. This means businesses are now free to spend small amounts of money on a Facebook-sponsored post, for example, and measure its effect before altering the campaign a week later. This leads to more precise marketing fueled by data.
4. Pictures as a Marketing Tool
By greatly emphasizing visual content, social media sites are upping the ante when it comes to the quality expected in online visuals. While original internet ads were often clunky, today’s ads have to be even more eye-catching than the content people themselves post to social media sites – a challenging feat given that Instagram helps people filter and beautify their images!
5. Integrating Social Media With Business
While 78% of companies now have a dedicated social media team, only 26% integrate social media fully into their business strategies. When brands learn to connect their social media strategies with other enterprise data sources, they will unlock the potential of social media to grow social media fans into true brand enthusiasts.
6. Social Data Guiding the Future of Relationship Intelligence
In the future, to build stronger brand loyalty, brands will be able to leverage data on the way that people interact with their brands on social media. As marketers pay more attention to what their online communities care about, their real-life products will become increasingly relevant to their customers.
7. Engaging Customers Both Online and Offline
Social media is designed to be not only a way to spend our time online, but also as a way to extend our real-life interactions with others. Brands are increasingly developing ways to move online campaigns into the real world and use human connection to bolster customers’ experiences with their products. Live events, giveaways, livestreams and reality shows are just a few examples of the ways in which brands are extending their online personalities into the real world.