Consumers in the modern digital world have a perception of a brand based on the experiences they have with the brand. These moments are created across multiple channels enabled by the rise of the digital world.
Social media made it possible for brands to connect with their customers on an intimate level which was not possible before. According to Gartner, a decrease in engagement by up to 15% is observed for businesses that fail to respond to messages on social media.
That’s how powerful social media is for companies, especially for big brands.
With the emergence of Facebook and Twitter, social media has boosted like never before. It has impacted the lives of people in more ways than one:
- 91% of people believe in social media’s power to connect communities
- 78% of consumers want brands to help people connect through social media.
- 76% of respondents were more likely to buy from a brand they felt connected to on social media than a competitor.
These numbers speak for themselves.
The times are changing and big brands aren’t ignorant. They understand the importance of engaging with their audience and thus are reaping the sweet results. The better the relationship is between a brand and a consumer, the higher the chances of him/her returning to the same brand.
Not just that, if the consumer feels there’s a connection between the brand and themselves, they’ll gloat about it endlessly – in front of friends, family, coworkers, neighbours and every person who might ask them about the brand.
Do you know what that means? Absolutely free advertising which happens to be genuine as well.
So, how do Big Brands do it?
There 7 ways Big Brands use Social Media for building customer relationships
- Being Responsive
Responding to customer queries or comments is the reason brands are on social media. It’s extremely important for brands to respond to their customers and big brands know that.
This is especially true about Twitter where things can get real messy real soon. It takes minutes for something to go viral on Twitter and big brands make sure that they respond to any tweet that might tarnish their image.
And not only critical comments, praises from consumers should be responded to in a way that the consumer feels valued. Brands like the fast-food outlet Wendy’s have understood Twitter far better and come up with creative tweets for their customers (or haters).
- Offering Promotions
If there’s one thing customers love more than a brand is that brand’s promotions and sales. They look forward to any kind of promotion that might save them some bucks which is why it’s important to share promotions on social media.
Giving the customers what they expect is a sure way to have a healthy following on social media and which sticks around. Big Brands promote their sales, promotions, contests, and other offers extensively on social media, even urging the customers to share them which further accentuates the engagement.
- Providing Educational Content
Educating customers about a brand is one of the most effective ways of building a strong customer relationship. The more a customer knows about a brand, the bigger the chances of them returning now and then.
Some brands take it a notch higher by educating their customers about a cause they stand for or support. It could be something they do as part of their CSR activities or educating customers about something important (the way Brands are regularly posting precautionary recommendations about COVID-19 is a good example.)
- Being Humorous
Make them smile and they like you, make them laugh and they’ll fall in love with you. Being funny or humorous in social situations acts as an ice-breaker and helps people connect which is why big brands use it to tell their customers that there are people behind those names too.
This makes the brand seem more humane and the perception in the customer’s mind softens a little, opening up ample opportunities for building relationships.
However, this takes wit and a great sense of humour which is why only some of the brands are able to pull this off. Frankly, if you aren’t funny, you aren’t – there’s no point in faking, it’ll make things worse.
- Exclusive Content
Sharing exclusive content with your followers on social media is another way a brand tells them how much they are valued. This is the reason those followers stay because the feeling of being part of an exclusive group of people who love the same brand makes them feel good about themselves.
It also tickles the primal desire of a human being – the desire to be accepted and to belong. This sense of belonging to an exclusive group or club makes the relationship with the brand a little intimate – so intimate that it almost feels like cheating when buying from a competitor.
- Behind the Scenes
People have always wondered and have been curious about how things happen. Whether it’s a movie or the construction of the world’s tallest building, people want to know how it’s made.
Big brands stimulate this curiosity by sharing behind the scenes images and videos on how they make the products that their customers love so much. This also helps build trust and connection between the brand and the customers as they realise the people behind the brand.
- Challenging Competitors
Like being funny, this is something not everyone can pull-off. The rivalry between big brands is not a new thing but social media has made it more visible with brands having one-off on Twitter about who’s better.
This is risky because when a brand tries to challenge a competitor on social media and the competitor responds in a much better way, the whole idea falls flat on its face. The brand itself becomes a victim of its mockery.
However, friendly banter between brands can benefit them both.
A brand-customer relationship is like any other relationship in the world and the key to all successful relationships is communication. The days of broadcasting advertisements might not be over yet but in the near future, it might.
People aren’t looking for one-way communication from brands anymore. They want a conversation, they want to know they are heard when they post a tweet, write a comment, or give a review. They want to be a part of the ideas that transform the brand from what it is to what it will become.
And this drive to hear has become public with social media where one tweet or post can become easily viral and not responding to it might become rude. It’s not like the victorian era where the sender of a letter was still worried if the letter reached the person it was intended for.
It’s the digital world and anyone anywhere would instantly find something on the internet that’s meant for them. You cannot just ignore what your customer has posted, you have to reply to them.
Moreover, it helps increase your business. As more and more people fall in love with your brand, they’ll not only keep returning but also talk about you to everyone they know and word-of-mouth is hands down the best form of advertisement and absolutely the most genuine which is why it is the most effective.
That’s why big businesses are so keen on making a mark in the social media circles and they are succeeding. But then, is social media only for the big brands? Should a small business use social media to garner attention, especially when they are starting from scratch?
Big brands have been doing it pretty well but there’s no reason a small business shouldn’t. Even a regional store with a very local audience can have an amazing social media presence where the sense of belonging is even more intimate because of geographical proximity.
Even a startup can become an overnight sensation on social media if they could plan a campaign that resonates well with intended audiences. The story of @worldrecordegg stands as proof that you can instantly become a social media rockstar within days with an interesting idea.
More importantly, there’s not one but enough social media platforms to make space for all kinds of businesses. There’s Facebook for “friendly-stuff”, Instagram for pictorial or visual stuff, YouTube for videos, Twitter for sass and wit, and then LinkedIn for professionalism.
Based on the kind of business you have and the audience that you are targeting, you can choose the platform you want to be on. You could also have different posts on different platforms for showing a more 360-degree view of the brand.
The more engaging your content on social media is, the more likes, shares, and comments you’ll receive after which it’s a snowball rolling. It all boils down to how well you know your audience and how you make them tick with your words. If you manage to do it well, you’ll have an amazing following on social media.