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Analysis

4 Stories of How Brands Used Social Networks for Loyalty

The two billion humans on social media today aren’t just “users” frittering away free time: they’re people forming new communities. If brands want to foster loyalty among their existing customers, they should adopt a focused social approach

Matt McAllister
July 20 2017

The two billion humans on social media today aren’t just “users” frittering away free time: they’re people forming new communities. One of the best ways brands can tell customers that it values and gets them is by learning about, and then contributing to, these communities.

Marketers know this. But feelings of urgency can create mistakes: diving in without enough research, trying to tackle too many networks with too few staff, and tone-deaf self-promotion are just a few of many sins marketers can commit on social media.

If brands want to foster loyalty among their existing customers, they should adopt a focused approach. Below are four stories of how brands built loyalty by choosing a social network suited to their audience.

Facebook: Enabling Lightning Fast Customer Support

KLM is known for high response rates on Facebook, at 3 hours faster than any other competitor, in over 14 languages. The brand is also the first airline to use Messenger’s support bots. “Applying AI, KLM can handle a greater volume of questions while still maintaining its personal approach and speed,” said KLM vice president for digital Tjalling Smit in a post on the company’s website.

Sending a message on Facebook has become the 1-800 number for digitally savvy customers. Research by marketing agency Accent Marketing shows that more than 80% of consumers prefer customer service through Facebook. Brands who can satisfy the demand see a 7.5% year-on-year increase in retention, as compared to 2.9% for brands who don’t provide support their customers through social channels.

Instagram: Topping Facebook for Mobile Marketing

Ice cream brand Ben and Jerry’s quickly found a home on Instagram for its quirky personality and content. Its marketing campaign #CaptureEuphoria increased followers 22% in just three months, and got 18,000 tagged photos on Instagram, for instance. The goal was to give fans a way to express euphoria—“from sunsets to smiles to ice cream sundaes”—and in doing so increase positive sentiment for the brand.

The secret is that Instagram users have become more likely to engage with a brand’s content than on either Facebook or Twitter. Instagram is simply faster and easier to navigate for visual content: the platform sees a staggering 20 billion photos posted and 1.6 billion likes daily.

Pinterest: Using Aesthetic to Sell

Fashion brands have the most visible successes on Pinterest. But spray paint brand Krylon proved that Pinterest isn’t just for clothing by launching the platform’s first ever “virtual yard sale.” The campaign started with the team traveling across six states and restoring antiques found in yard sales, keeping users updated in real-time. Afterwards, Krylon sold the 127 items using Pinterest’s buyable pins feature, donating a part of the profits to charity. The campaign caused a 400% increase in traffic to Krylon’s Pinterest page.

Unlike Instagram or Twitter, Pinterest is both a marketplace and a social media platform: the majority of users visit Pinterest with an intent to shop. Like Krylon, brands can take advantage of new features like an aesthetically pleasing product board to drive sales and native video for engaging with customers.

Snapchat: a Hub for the Young

Sour Patch Kids knew that their audience — teens — was on Snapchat, and accepted the challenge of making content that fit the notoriously confusing platform. “Our goal ultimately was to connect with teens and millennials in a way that is meaningful to them,” said Farrah Bezner of Mondelez International in an interview with AMA. So the brand hired YouTube star Logan Paul to spend five days pranking for its campaign, “Real-life Sour Patch Kid.” The campaign earned Sour Patch Kids 120,000 Snapchat followers and close to 7 million impressions on the stories at the end of the run.

Sour Patch Kids continues to captivate Snapchat users by incorporating important hallmarks of teen culture like pranks, social media celebrities, and custom emoji. Although the latest news shows Instagram may be out-competing Snapchat, it’s still a great platform for reaching teens, with 160 million users.

Twitter: the Power of Fast Responses and Active Listening

When Jon Stewart used Arby’s as a stand-in for his fast-food jokes, the brand had two options: issue a cease and desist or become heroes on Twitter by jumping in on the fun. What followed was a year-long back and forth between the host and the brand — with Arby’s replies getting thousands of retweets and respect from Twitter users — and an 800% increase in followers. Now the brand uses the platform as a direct line to thousands of its younger customers, staying top of mind with relevant content on pop culture and gaming.

Arby’s learned that on Twitter, authenticity and relevance is key. “The only cost is for us to be ready. The only cost is for us to listen. The key to connecting with guests is to be part of the conversation…and not to take yourself too seriously,” says Rob Lynch, Arby’s Brand President and CMO on the company’s homepage.

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Matt McAllister

Matt McAllister is the CEO of Fluid PR, Inc. and twenty-year marketing veteran. Matt most recently ran marketing for Tapjoy, a mobile ad-tech platform. Matt also served as VP of marketing and content for High Voltage Interactive, an online ad network that was acquired by Aptimus, Inc. He started his career as an account executive for the PR agency Niehaus Ryan Wong.

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