If you want to have a thriving social media campaign, you need a healthy base of followers. But too many business owners focus on accumulating sheer numbers, when they should really be spending their efforts improving follower loyalty, which will keep followers around for the long haul.
Related: 25 Tips for Earning Customer Loyalty
Fortunately, there are a handful of engagement-based strategies that can win a follower’s loyalty -- sometimes in just one interaction -- and permanently improve your brand’s image online.
Why loyalty is so important
Why is follower loyalty so important in the first place?
- Quality over quantity. It’s far better to have 100 strongly loyal followers than it is to have 10,000 followers who don’t particularly care about your brand. Loyal followers will be more willing to engage with your posts, share your content, recommend your product or services and ultimately make purchases from you. Though numbers can be helpful, quality still matters more than quantity, and follower loyalty is a measure of follower quality.
- The threat of competition. Brand loyalty is a rare commodity these days. Consumers have hundreds of options in nearly every conceivable field, and they can summon information on competitors in a flash. If your followers don’t feel compelled to keep up with your brand, they could easily switch to one of your competitors.
- Evangelism. If you influence enough loyalty from certain followers, they could turn into brand evangelists, willing to promote your brand just because they’ve had such great experiences. That amounts to free, virtually limitless new exposure.
Before I get to the five main interactions you’ll be using to instill follower loyalty, there are a few general rules that apply to your actions throughout each of those strategies:
- Sincerity. People will be watching your brand and other brands closely, so you can’t get away with using a standard, generic corporate response for every interaction. Customize your responses to each respective follower, and mean what you say.
- Personality. Followers want to interact with other people, not corporate bots. Make sure all of your interactions have a ring of personality to them, beyond your basic brand voice. That warmth will keep people coming to you for their interactions.
- Consistency. You should also have a consistent voice, and a consistent way to address your followers’ questions, concerns and comments. For that reason, you should consider designating only one person to draft your social profile’s responses (or one person per platform).
With those rules in mind, you can influence follower loyalty with these five interactions:
1. Detailed answers
If your followers ask questions, providing them with concise, detailed answers is sure to win their respect. You’ll instantly give them the new information they need, showing yourself to be informative and reliable; and you’ll demonstrate your commitment to your customers to other followers who may be watching.
Similarly, you can answer questions from people who aren’t your followers; by searching for keywords related to your area of expertise, you can find open questions on platforms like Twitter, and submit your in-brand response. In this way, you can use social media platforms like Quora, and build a reputation for informing and helping others.
Oftentimes, your followers will comment on your posts and any material you publish. They might offer a counterargument to your main points, or simply mention that they enjoyed reading one of your articles.
It takes about 10 seconds to respond to a comment like this, sometimes with a simple “thank you.” It may not seem like much to you, but to a follower who genuinely enjoys your work, it means everything. Doing this consistently will encourage more interaction and, in turn, build more loyalty from your existing fans.
Your followers are likely producing content of their own, including content related to your industry and maybe even content related to your brand. At least a few times a week, use social listening to discover these posts, and when you find something worth sharing with your followers, share it.
This will instantly win you the loyalty of the follower whose content you shared, and encourage your other followers to post more brand-related content.
Starting or continuing a conversation is a powerful way to engage with a follower because you’ll fully explore a topic, rather than having a business-like call and response.
Some followers may attempt to start conversations with you, which is beneficial, but other times, you’ll need to seek out conversations already in progress by monitoring groups and influencers related to your industry.
Conversations also have the added benefit of exposing you to an entirely new circle of people, greatly increasing your brand visibility in one fell swoop.
Even the best companies sometimes have to deal with customer complaints on social media. When they come in, do your best to resolve them quickly, directly and in the friendliest way you can. Fixing a problem is a good way to restore someone’s vulnerable loyalty, and will look good to other followers as well.
Keep in mind that the engagement and interactive components of your social media strategy are still just a fraction of your campaign. If you want to keep attracting new followers and keeping your existing ones informed and entertained, you’ll need to produce new content consistently, maintain a cohesive brand voice and make it worth people's while, through rewards and incentives, to follow your brand.