5 ways to cultivate loyal customers through social media
Develop deeper relationships with your customers and show them what your business is all about.
Published June 3, 2021
Last updated March 24, 2022
Social media isn’t just the tool of teens—over the past year, it has quickly become one of the fastest-growing channels for customer support, with tickets up 181 percent since the start of the pandemic. Now, more than ever, customers are looking to connect with brands on their favorite social media platforms.
In addition to meeting customers where they are, social media is a great method for customer outreach whether or not you pay to promote content. Social platforms have quickly risen above more traditional marketing avenues to become one of the best ways to make customers out of young consumers.
Here are some ways that businesses have found success in providing better support and showcasing their brand voice to help develop loyal customer bases along the way.
Table of contents
1. Respond to customers, faster
One of the key components for success on social media is being able to address customer concerns and needs.
Don’t worry if your small business may not be able to handle an influx of customer tickets from social media— businesses of all sizes can use social media to improve CX, and the depth of the approach can vary. Providing clear channels for support on your social media platforms, even if the information only serves to direct customers to your help centers and support pages, is a major part of providing social support.
Customers want fast responses
The Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2021 found that 60 percent of customers value a quick response from businesses—and social media can help teams respond faster on channels that their customers are already using.
Customer service software, like social media monitoring tools, can help you track ticket flow and keep your response times down, while an omnichannel solution like Zendesk can streamline this process and make it easier for you to move conversations with customers between platforms seamlessly.
PayJoy found success in using Zendesk to chat and email with customers. As business boomed and customers contacted them through social platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp, Zendesk tools allowed them to integrate these conversations into their existing customer support methods, dropping response times from 24 to 6 hours on average.
2. Humanize your brand
Young consumers often take a liking to authentic, irreverent brands. If your social media post sounds like it was written by eight people in a conference room, they will likely be able to tell.
The success of Wendy’s social media strategy over the last few years demonstrates the power that brand voice has in influencing customer loyalty. An infamous “Memer” commercial from 2015 ended up being widely parodied for missing the mark. But the company leaned into the attention, even becoming part of the joke with a snarky response to a customer tweet about the commercial in 2020.
The story your brand tells is unique to you, but social media can be a great way to showcase what you represent and who you are as a business.
These days, Wendy’s has truly found its stride on Twitter. The company’s nearly 4 million followers tune in for joking insults to competitors and customers alike, especially during its annual celebration of National Roast Day. Though unusual, Wendy’s social media strategy (which includes not pre-approving Tweets before they’re posted), has led to the development of a clear brand voice and the loyalty of millions of customers who like what it has to say.
The story your brand tells is unique to you, but social media can be a great way to showcase what you represent and who you are as a business. If what you have to say (or how you say it) resonates with customers, they will want to keep coming back.
3. Showcase brand values
Another draw for young consumers is when a brand’s value system aligns with theirs. 83 percent of millennials reported that they want the businesses they support to share their political and cultural views, and 76 percent stated that they want brand CEOs to speak out on social issues. Though young, Gen Z is also becoming more politically conscious and they already make up 40 percent of global consumers— that’s some serious buying power.
One brand to watch here is Ben & Jerry’s. The brand’s dedication to integrating its values into their business goes beyond simply issuing statements through various platforms; they use new ice cream flavors to reflect the company’s stance on current social issues.
Over the decades, the ice cream brand has gained notoriety for speaking out online in support of social justice movements—and they’re not afraid to put their money where their mouth is. In early 2020, the brand suspended all paid product advertising campaigns on social platforms Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Instead, that money went to promoting the brand’s campaigns and activism for social justice.
While that may seem like a counterintuitive social media advertising strategy, its profits certainly haven’t declined for lack of spending on product ads. In 2021, Ben & Jerry’s was the top-selling ice cream brand in the United States, no small feat. And that’s largely because they’ve been able to connect with customers on real issues. According to Harvard Business Review, Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Ben Cohen believes that, “The strongest bond you can create with customers is around a shared set of values.”
It’s not a guarantee, but like-minded customers are more likely to seek you out once they know you share mutual values. If your business has a strong set of moral stances and wants to speak out, social media is a great place to connect.
4. Engage your audience
It’s important to know exactly what kinds of customers that your business wants to reach on social media. This will influence what platform you find your audience on, how to make the most of paid advertising, and even the type of content you create.
Social listening tools like Sprout Social can help you discover this information by analyzing not only your brand’s social media interactions, but also those of competitors and the industry as a whole. Customer engagement is essential to driving business from social media, with followers of a brand’s social platforms being 67 percent more likely to spend more on purchases from that business. According to Sprout Social, “When customers feel connected to brands, more than half of consumers (57%) will increase their spending with that brand and 76% will buy from them over a competitor.”
“When customers feel connected to brands, more than half of consumers (57%) will increase their spending with that brand and 76% will buy from them over a competitor.”Sprout Social
Once you have a clear idea of who and where the customers you connect with are, you can create content specifically tailored to draw that audience in.
When meditation app Calm announced on Twitter that they had teamed up with musician and actor Harry Styles to narrate a sleep story, fans got so excited to download the app that the sheer volume of new users crashed it. Their collaboration with Styles helped Calm rank higher in the app store than ever before, demonstrating the power of knowing how to connect with your audience on social media.
Not only that, but the buzz the announcement created on social media led to tens of thousands of fans liking, retweeting, and discussing Styles and Calm’s team-up— additional free advertising from the sheer volume of word-of-internet mentions.
Social listening and creating targeted content go hand-in-hand to help increase your brand’s social media profile, and keep customers coming back once they know you’re creating experiences and products that appeal to them.
5. Bring customers into the loop
Who can resist peeking behind the curtain? Social media offers a unique opportunity to take customers behind the scenes and showcase aspects of your business that appeal to them.
Dessert chain Crumbl Cookies uses simple strategies to make customers feel like part of the team, tailored to their company’s strengths. To start, they only offer a few flavors every week and are constantly changing them to keep customers back. Unique flavors and ‘grammable packaging are the perfect recipe for viral posts and repeat customers.
These elements combined together are part of what makes Crumbl Cookies such a viral force on TikTok. People will drive an hour plus just to film themselves eating and reviewing each week’s new cookie flavors.
Social media offers a unique opportunity to take customers behind the scenes and showcase aspects of your business that appeal to them.
By developing a devoted customer base that connects with one another on social media over their shared love of the cookies, Crumbl has created a community—and some great free advertising. Not only does Crumbl benefit from that initial point of sale, but they also receive word-of-internet buzz that helps them reach more consumers.
Don’t fret if this model doesn’t apply to your brand—social content creators have found success by sharing anything from order making to packaging videos and staff bios, warehouse tours, and more. Kylie Jenner’s office tour video, for example, has over 18 million views on YouTube, but you don’t need to be a billionaire cosmetics mogul to find success with this kind of content.
The #smallbusiness hashtag on TikTok, for example, has over 26 billion video views and is a great opportunity for small companies to show themselves off and draw customers in. The goal is making customers feel like part of the process by taking them along on the journey with you.
Draw customers in—and keep ‘em coming back
Social media is a great way for businesses to provide better, faster support on platforms where your customers already are. Now’s the time to make it work for you and your business by building out your brand voice and deepening your relationships with customers. Building loyalty begins with customer connection—if you want them to love your brand as much as you do, show them what you care about and why they should care too.