Not to be too dramatic, but for businesses, your customers are your lifeblood. The reason you run, the way you stay afloat. Consider your business like this:Strong, lasting business= solid relationship with customersIn order to survive in today’s difficult and competitive world, you have to create relationships with customers. This leads to loyalty, the holy grail of rewards. Customer loyalty will keep you going during hard times, provide you with new customers via recommendations and keep customers returning even when cheaper or newer businesses pop up. Let’s take a quick tangent. Have you ever heard of the 80-20 rule? 80% of your business (and profits) comes from a loyal 20%. Whereas 20% of your business comes from a fleeting 80%. Maybe they’re trying you once and moving on. Or maybe they no longer need that good or service. Either way, instead of spending so much time and advertising money chasing the fleeting 80%, focus your efforts on fostering relationships with your loyal 20%. Now back to the main point. How does this lead to developing a fan base? Glad you asked.Capitalize on your 20%, your potential customers and the industry as a whole by fostering relationships online via social media platforms. Since it’s difficult to create relationships and build an audience in person, resort to the internet to communicate with, listen to and interact with your audience. It’s more simple than you would think. Take a look at these 6 steps:First, you need to begin with a platform. Otherwise, your audience is all dressed up with nowhere to go! Consider various social media platforms, or create brand-owned profiles on each. This decision will depend on your business type and audience preference. Steer away from the email newsletter route (and similar methods) as there isn’t much two-way conversation. Facebook is always a good bet, with their large audience and variety of user ages, behaviors, likes and dislikes. Something to keep in mind: 51% of Facebook users say they are more likely to purchase from brands they follow. Second, grab a notepad and define your fan base. This step should be easy, as it’s a copy of your target audience. Get as specific as possible: age range, ethnicity, geographical location, behaviors, yearly income, etc. Understanding everything about your target will help you create content based on their likes and dislikes, which you can use to your advantage. As you create a profile, keep in mind that there will be times when you have to tolerate the customers on your platform. Yes, you read that right: tolerate. Oftentimes, customers get in the way, voice their objection, misunderstand, and in general, cause frustration. During these times, look back at your target audience description to learn the best ways to answer complaints and solve problems. It’s better to prepare for this now than to be surprised! Third, take the time to draft content. Start with your brand’s tone. Will you lean towards long sentences and elevated language or shorter sentences and modern references? Base your business’ tone and mood off of your audience and how they speak. Projecting a similar tone will help familiarize them with the brand and gain their trust. A great idea when building content is to answer frequently-occurring questions and offer information relative to your page and brand.
Forth, using your tone, schedule a few engagement posts. The first few posts will likely contain heavy amounts of CTA: tag 3 friends, vote in our poll, share this post, etc. as your platform gains momentum, and ultimately, an audience. Experiment with different engagement tactics and analyze which work best for your brand. If you have time, go deeper and look at posting times and dates. You don’t have to be a digital strategist to understand that users are more likely to be on Facebook during the evening than 11 o’clock in the afternoon on a work day. Building off of this, make meeting customer expectations a high priority. Customers walk in (or click on) with preconceived notions of what to expect, how they will be treated and what will be offered. A happy customer is a good customer, as they’re less likely to complain to others and damage your business’ reputation. But find a balance; offering too much or catering to their every whim will drive you crazy. Fifth, realize building an audience and forming relationships with each member is going to take time. Creating an intricate community cannot be done in a weekend! Your audience is a long-term investment, so treat it like one. Don’t over-analyze and fret, but instead, relax and stay relevant. Enjoy connecting with the loyal ones. Try not to over post, but keep a consistency. In no time, you’ll have built a solid foundation to build off of for years. Simple ways to engage with customers are through conversations. Ask questions, respond to user’s answers, offer an opinion, share important articles and business-relevant content. Make your page a one-stop-shop for everything they need.Sixth, and most importantly, constantly monitor and measure the results of each post. Most social platforms offer analytics to help you analyze percentages of user interaction, new followers and more. These numbers are s very, very important, yet many forget to check them! Log in and spend time looking at the numbers to see which posts did well and what you can improve on. There you have it! Building a loyal audience takes time in the beginning, as you research to understand your specific target audience and create posts to match their behaviors. As you gain momentum, your membership will grow and your relationship with your audience progresses.