How social media can reveal the mystery of brand loyalty

05 Mar,2013

 

G.K Suresh – General Manager, ITC Foods

 

Let’s face it. Customers are no longer loyal or rather they are loyal but to brands that understand and engage with them in the new world. The messages carried by the advertisements are no longer compelling. For years, brands were able to suppress the consumers’ voice. But now, all it takes is a Tweet or a Facebook update from an irate customer and the world knows about it. Honesty has become most brands’ top priority.

 

Maintaining brand loyalty has suddenly become the biggest challenge. Moreover, the entire concept of loyalty is vague. All thanks to Facebook, where one person is interacting with several competing brands, all at once. In such a scenario, traditional branding exercises are no longer effective in getting the attention of customers. This is further complicated by the variety of devices where such micro eco-systems exist.

 

This is the result of the digital convergence of culture, business and economy into bits and bytes. So, this is where lie not only the challenges but also huge opportunities for brands to understand their customers. Digging into the wealth of social media data, brands can today discover consumer insights like never before.

 

 

By A Correspondent

 

Having taken the corporate world by storm, social media today is today spreading its wings far and wide and is no longer just a casual hangout for users. The possibilities that it offers are endless, and it’s been proven beyond doubt that social media is no longer a fad. It means serious business for brands. But with this realization there is also the truth – about enterprises not being equipped with right tools and human resources to leverage social media.Simplify360, a firm that enables organizations to effectively implement social media concepts into core business functions, has released an e-book titled ‘Predictive Analytics 2013: The future of social media.’ The study saw the firm connect with different professionals active in the field of social analytics and learn from them about the future of social media. The book is an attempt by Simplify360 to reach out to the experts in the social media field in order to learn the meaning of what predictive analytics meant in social media and its role in the future of social media.

 

Predictive analytics has been around for a long time and slowly these analytic tools are finding their way into the marketing and social media arenas. What predictive analytics does is use behavioural data from past to predict how individuals will behave in the future. Some of the experts who have contributed in the book include Ajay Kelkar of Hansa Cequity, GK Suresh of ITC Foods, Ankita Gaba of Social Samosa, Bhupendra Khanal of Simplify360 and the others. MxMIndia presents extracts of the article by GK Suresh who has written on ‘How Social Media can reveal the mystery of brand loyalty’.

 

There are 4 steps to understanding customer insights through social media:

# Find out what people are talking about and why

# Find out who is talking and influencing the crowd

# Use this intelligence to optimize your brand’s message to impact in real-time.

# Measure your interaction and influence of the messages and optimize them.

 

One brand that has successfully utilized the above steps is Bingo! with the launch of Bingo! Tangles on Facebook. With over 3 million fans, Facebook offered Bingo! a great window into understanding consumers conversations. Consumers use these forums to talk about their likes & dislikes and welcome new information on product as they find it appetizing, tempting &satisfies their need for variety. Consequently we decided to launch the new Bingo Tangles first on Facebook and give a chance to loyal Bingo! fans to discover the product and also taste it before it hit the market. A teaser contest was created for Facebook fans which encouraged them to decipher the brand name and the winners could taste the product before it was made available in the market. Thousands of fans participated in the contest and packs of Bingo Tangles were sent to the winners. This campaign helped us connect with the brand advocates and also use Facebook as a launch platform for various other brands.

 

Data is a vital raw material for building the business infrastructure in the information age. Brands that can put systems in place to access, process and utilize the data will be the most successful in connecting with the customers and influence their decisions.

 

The key idea behind customer loyalty is customer retention. There are already different programs, which   businesses employ like reward programs, referral programs and 1-to-1 marketing campaigns to ensure that customers stay with the brand. But social networks are taking over these programs in terms of gaining a deeper relationship with the brand.

 

There are 3 ways to use social media data to improve and make social programs much more effective:

 

1. The Brand should genuinely care

When you embark on the social media journey, be prepared to respond to negative as well as positive feedback and genuinely do something about consumer problems. On the Aashirvaad Multigrains Facebook page one of the fan brought to our notice unavailability of Aashirvaad Multigrains atta in her area. We used this info to investigate the issue with our sales team and figured out that there was an issue with the sales person operational in that area. Action was taken immediately and we called back the consumer to validate that her problem had been addressed.we figured out that this was an issue due to the sales person operational in that area. Thus listening to a single fan, who was representing a cluster of consumers in that region, we were able to resolve issues faced by many such consumers in that region.

 

2. Engage without losing focus on your brands

Many times the focus on the content posted on Social Media platform goes to extremes. Either it is too generic or it is too brand centric. There should be a proper balance.

 

3. Brands have to learn to converse with consumers as equals

Brands are too used to speaking to consumers from a position of authority & knowledge and not as a friend. But today brands need to learn to converse with the consumers on equal terms & be seen as an enabler.

 

The key thing is to do it without compromising on the brand “personality”. Hence the voice of Bingo! is more youthful & contemporary; the voice for Aashirvaad is always joyful & optimistic while that of Kitchens of India is authentic & welcoming.

 

So we now know why and how social media can help decipher the mystery of brand loyalty. But the last portion and the most vital one, is to understand how to measure this in social media. There are 4 factors, which one must consider while looking into brand loyalty in social media:

 

1. First of all, what are customers talking about your brand and how? What are their attitudes and sentiments towards your brand? What is their feeling towards your brand? Are they neutral, friendly, hostile or ignorant? This helps brand not only understand the emotion but also map them along the brand attributes and identify the missing bits.

 

2. Secondly, to understand the emotional connection between a customer and your brand and measuring the strength of the bond. Most often an out-burst by a customer is temporary, and can be mitigated easily. Hence, identifying such customers is vital. Many a times the reverse is true as well. There was once a complaint on Facebook by a consumer on the quality of Atta. Before we could begin to address the problem, 3 other consumers had responded asking the fan to check the storage conditions at the outlet of purchase as well as her kitchen.

 

3. Thirdly understand that the customer is likely to buy more than one segment of products from the brand. This sends much a stronger signal of loyalty.

 

4. And finally, know which platforms are more effective in communicating with the customer. Email, Social Networks, Mobile, TV, Tablets and the list goes on. The avenues where customers are present are wide. Hence identifying the top engaging platforms and optimizing them is vital.

 

Mining social data and building your decision systems on top of it is the secret of successful customer retention. The main goal is to make an emotional connection with the customer in each interaction to increase referrals, retention and acquisition.

 

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