Written by J-P De Clerck, who is an experienced content, conversion and social media consultant. Like Mindjumpers, he is associated with Social Marketing Forum. You can connect with him on Twitter @Conversionation
OK, my English is far from perfect but I do know that ‘me like you long time’ is not right. I was just thinking about Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, the scene in Vietnam with the girl saying to the soldiers ‘me love you long time’, while Nancy sings “these boots are made for walking’ in the background. No? Then don’t mind my twisted mind.
This post is not about movies but about “the loyalty” of fans, followers and all those other labels we give to people on social media.
Is it strong? How do you get it? And how do you keep it? Put your boots on and prepare to walk all over some surprises.
Do I deserve you?
The average user of social and new media follows less than five brands. At least, according to the 2010 edition of the ‘Consumer New Media Study’ by Cone, a Boston-based Omnicom Group company that specializes in brand trust.
Although the use of ‘new media’ like social networks, blogs, mobile channels and online games (all of which you cannot really call new anymore) has grown significantly since the 2009 edition of the report (an increase of 48%), it is and remains difficult for companies to deserve loyal followers.
Cone calculated that the average user of these so-called “new” media, follows exactly 4.6 companies. With followers Cone means persons that display any affinity to a specific brand, for example by following it on Twitter, by “liking” it on Facebook, or by subscribing to the RSS feed of the brand or company blog.
For the “intensive” Twitter and Facebook users this could seem like an extremely low number but let’s not forget that people using some social media a lot (depending on which ones of course) often are active in just a few industries like for example marketing, media and ICT. A second question is of course “what is a brand”? Did Cone include “personal brands”, “media brands” etc. No idea really but it’s not that important for the content of this post.
If the company’s figures are more or less correct one can see the great challenges that a brand faces on, amongst others, social media: how do you earn and maintain the loyalty of people in the enormously competitive world of “new” media?
And they do play hard to get!
1. Think multichannel: welcome to the omnichannel consumer
The study determined that consumers use a mixture of digital and new media to interact with brands and companies. 63% of consumers consult company sites, 62% use e-mail, 38% social networks (Twitter excluded), 18% mobile channels/devices, 16% blogs and almost 3% micro-blogs (you can say Twitter now) in their interaction with organisations.
Cone does not come to this conclusion but to me this is again clear proof of the fact that the modern consumer is omnichannel, multi-channel, cross-channel, or whatever you like to call him. The consequences for the marketing strategy should be clear by now as well.
2. Assure a dosed and phased communication in function of real-time needs
The report also found that (online) customer experiences in interaction with companies are a deciding factor for the consumer’s loyalty on the level of these dialogues and connections (follows, likes, subscribes, etc.). If the experience is good, consumer will “stay”, but if the company disappoints them in any way, they leave again just as quickly.
So the question is what do consumers want? The answer: a right amount of communication and interaction (not too much but also not too little: in other words, no overdose of messages but the right content and promotions at the right time in function of the consumer’s real-time needs and of an ongoing dialogue between the company and the consumer!
Or in other words: a multichannel approach whereby the consumer gets exactly what he wants and when he wants it is crucial and tailor-made content and promotions play an important role, just as a long-term relationship strategy matters. Sounds like B2B marketing and lead nurturing, doesn’t it?
Finally this: the most important reasons why consumers start an online “relationship” with brands are…incentives (discounts, freebies, promotions etc.) with 77% of the respondents. Second comes customer service and problem solving (46%) and thirdly feedback on products and services (39%).
So: now you know how to get the brand engagement. The tough part: getting the trust and keeping the loyalty. The answer: omnichannel and consumer-centric.
I wonder what a similar survey would find in, let’s say, two years from now, when the “new” media of today won’t be called new anymore.