Ten years ago, the idea of emotionally connecting to a brand was something we did, but never thought about. The idea of connecting to a bank or insurance company was unheard of! Today? I was so moved by Chase's commercial full of puppies that I had to tweet them immediately and tell them. Happy it was my bank and that like me, they loved puppies, I told them so through a tweet. Within seconds they tweeted back about Chase loving dogs. Immediate emotional connection. I was happy that they acknowledged my tweet to them and responded with a great response, and I was happy that I was with a bank that I had something in common with. While that still seems odd, even writing it, emotionally connecting with consumers is the key to brand loyalty.
Let's look at a hypothetical scenario: You have been purchasing a certain brand's hair color for the past 20 years since you began coloring your hair. You love the color, the price is reasonable and you are always able to find the product at your local store. Then you read a blog about this new company that's come out with what looks like the exact same color. Suddenly on social media, you see more and more people mentioning this new brand. You get in the car and go to a store looking for this product so you can at least check it out for yourself. It's a few dollars more, but you decide to pick it up to see what the buzz is about. You color your hair and while it's not exactly the shade you have always done, you like it. You tweet the new company to let them know you tried it but that it's too expensive when you've already got a product you like. Within minutes, they respond to your tweet in a positive way, and ask for your email to send you a coupon. If this were me, I would make the switch to the new company. I am a firm believer in "We vote with our dollars," and I support companies that I believe in. Having shown me that they are listening and willing to do something to gain my business is enough for me to make the switch. I'm immediately emotionally connected to a company I feel has my best interests at heart and wants to do better by me.
What drives us as people? My answer: emotions drive us. Have you ever gotten bad service at a restaurant that made you so upset that you immediately went to leave them a bad review? On the flip side, has someone in a store ever gone out of their way to help you and you filled out a comment card commending them? Those are both examples of being driven by our emotions.
We are all a brand. Some of us work solely for our personal brands while others of us have brands as clients or our own companies. The easiest way to create emotional connections with our audience and our community is through social media. It has broken down that "fourth wall" and made it easier for people to come to us, they don't have to jump through hoops and codes and pages to send us an email on a website. They don't have to wonder how long they'll be on hold if they call our help departments. Its real time, and we are (hopefully) always there to answer them.
In everything I do for marketing clients, I keep one sentence top of mind: People buy from people they trust. Social media gives us the opportunity to create trust with people on a daily basis. How do we do that? The same way you would build trust with a new friend. You are consistent. You show up. You respond when someone speaks (tweets) to you. You try to be helpful. I am a big believer that the online world is no different than the offline world. There are just different people you know there. Think about where your friends hang out. Aren't there some people you go to one specific restaurant or bar to meet some of them at, and another to meet another group of friends? I look at social networks like Facebook and Twitter the exact same way. Those are two additional places for me to see my friends.
Social media makes connection to people scalable. You aren't just throwing out words to the masses, hoping that something will stick in the 'right' person's mind. You are able to have 1:1 conversations with people to build brand trust and loyalty. You will get to know the people in your community and they will get to know you. The companies that are excelling and will continue to get this. They know the power of having a brand voice that people relate to. It's less of "new marketing" than it is a shift in focus to more personalized marketing.
How do you get started? The same way you would get started with a new friend. Ask questions. Be interested and interesting. Share parts of yourself, and be there when people share parts of themselves to you. Consistently show up. Follow through, do what you say you will do. Keep conversations relevant. Be helpful. What can you and your brand do to make peoples' lives better? Don't just talk about yourself. Today, it's more about the people behind the brand than it is about the actual product. Your stories add faces to the brand, and people connect with those faces and those stories.
What tips would you add? Tweet me @lucyrk78 and let me know!