"Thank you." It's a simple enough term of endearment and one that companies have long sought to incorporate into their branding strategies. Thanking customers for their patronage is nothing new, but as more companies include social media into their business plans, they're looking for smart ways to leverage the medium to keep customers happy and coming back for more.
Happy customers may be the hallmark of a well-executed brand, but reaching this goal isn't done with just a fancy-schmancy logo or that oh so witty slogan. Branding takes work. These days everyone is buzzing about building a community online of loyal, engaged customers. In the new age of cross-channel marketing strategies and word-of-mouse campaigning (you read that right) it's more important than ever for companies to identify their brand evangelists. You may market your brand, but it's your customers that proliferate your message.
Let's face it: everyone likes to feel special. When customers feel they are valued, they're more likely to remain loyal to your brand. Loyalty-based programs do a great job of giving customers the warm fuzzies and keeping them as repeat customers, but rewarding them for their assistance in getting your message out into the world makes them feel like they're part of the VIP group. So why not take that loyalty program one step further and make those thank-yous work for you?
Creating a loyal customer base is just half the battle. The key is to target your top customers, those who generate the most buzz about your brand, and leverage their influence on others to reach more customers. In order to do this you have to show some gratitude. It's not enough just to send your repeat customers a token of gratitude for their patronage. Make your customers work for you.
Social media is a great platform for taking your loyalty marketing to the next level. Targeting your most influential customers with a share incentive promotion that rewards those with the highest influence over their networks can allow you reach new potential customers that your marketing efforts may not have otherwise touched.
The golden rule may be "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," but branding strategies should take that one step further. Have customers AND their social media networks do unto you. What do you have to lose? By utilizing the tools of social media and marketing technology platforms, companies can identify, target, and leverage their top evangelists, making social media more than just a place to engage with customers. With the right campaign it can become a place to gain new ones.
*This article originally appeared on Talent Zoo's Digital Pivot blog.