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How to Tap the Power of Social Media to Forge Customer Loyalty Think less about leads and much more about your relationship with the fans you have.

By Brett Relander Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As social media has becomes increasingly mainstream, the focus on utilizing such networks as Twitter and Facebook for marketing has virtually exploded. There is no doubt that social media sites offer tremendous opportunity in terms of marketing, but focusing a social media strategy solely on marketing can actually be somewhat limiting. It is possible to do much more with social media, including drive customer loyalty.

Savvy marketers have long been well aware that customer loyalty is established and re-established at each interaction a brand makes with customers. Usually referred to as touch points, those interactions are vital to building and maintaining strong customer relationships. Loyal customers do not simply buy more or buy more frequently, they also make purchases without considering alternatives or competitors to your brand. Each interaction you have with your customers provides the opportunity to reinforce the satisfaction they have experienced with previous interactions, thus solidifying their loyalty to your brand.

Related: 6 Reasons Social Media Is Your Secret Weapon in Customer Service

This is precisely why social media provides the ideal platform for developing a strong customer loyalty program. A study published by Marketing Land found that only 20 percent of CMOs leverage social networks for engaging with customers. Given that social media serves as an active venue for conversation, brands have an unparalleled opportunity to support and assist customers, thus reinforcing customer loyalty. Along with contributing to that sense of loyalty among current customers, a strong social media presence also helps to drive recommendations, leading to even more business.

Creating far-ranging customer experiences is the key to building customer loyalty into your social media strategy. When every brand experience is robust, customers don't think of going elsewhere when they outgrow their latest purchase.

Social technology gives customers the opportunity to interact with your brand and share their experiences with others, increasing exposure and setting the stage for higher customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Related: 5 Predictions About the Growing Power of Online Customer Reviews

Rather than running contests on social media platforms to collect new followers, think how you can use social media to reward your current loyal fan base. Contests are good for adding email addresses to your user base, but it is often far better to have a smaller, avid fan base than a larger number of people with no enthusiasm for your brand.

Relationships are a two-way street. Your goal is fans who like and share your posts on social media. You need to give to receive. Take the time to like the photos your fans share on their social media accounts. Give them a shout out on Twitter and Facebook. In this type of mutually beneficial relationship, your fans are more likely to share your content. It's a great way to build customer loyalty and exposure at the same time.

Consider partnering with complementary brands for giveaways and to share educational information and content. This increases exposure to potential customers and provides value that drives continued loyalty to your brand.

Social media offers a number of important strategies to brands of all sizes and from all industries, including the opportunity to drive engagement and ultimately, customer loyalty.

Related: Social Media's Role Will Soon Shift From Driving Awareness to Creating Revenue

Brett Relander

Managing Director at X1 Sports Nutrition

Brett Relander is founder and managing director of X1 Sports Nutrition (http://X1Fuel.com). He has a degree in exercise science, is certified as a Master Fitness Specialist and in the biomechanics of resistance training, and is an advocate of all-natural nutrition and advanced performance training.

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