Think BR: Shrink your audience and grow loyalty
With Facebook fatigue on the rise could niche social networks be the best way for brands to get their message across, asks Mike Spicer, chief executive, Pulse Group.
Mike Spicer, CEO, Pulse Group
Loyalty is the holy grail of marketing. End of. Loyal customers provide a stable revenue flow, as well as acting as brand ambassadors.
With these business basics in place, brands can then move upwards, attracting more customers, broadening and diversifying their appeal and growing in size.
Because of this, it is imperative never to forget or take for granted your core customer base - it is this group, however small, that must be marketed to first and foremost.
In the past, techniques with high levels of personalisation were the main approach for marketing.
Direct mail, still a firm favourite in a number of circles, provided a personal touch along with a physicality that allowed brand collateral to linger long in the memory. These two attributes have allowed it to fill the aforementioned marketing role required to maintain loyal customers.
But as technology has moved on, consumers have embraced a wide range of digital platforms for all aspects of their lives, from media consumption to socialising.
Brands have followed them, and now social networks are used as one of the major platforms for direct brand to consumer interactions.
Following brands on Twitter or Liking them on Facebook allows loyal fans to keep up to date, and interact with those who share the same interest.
But to build followings on such platforms requires a substantial cash outlay and, due to the huge array of people on these networks, it is often hard to truly connect with brands on a personal level - customers are, after all, just a number, whether they are a follower, a fan or a circle member.
This has caused many customers to grow overwhelmed by brand interaction - a recent study by Content & Motion revealed a growing sense of tiredness with brand content on Facebook and Twitter.
There is too much focus on retweet numbers or the amount of status likes. Loyalty is failing on the large scale social network platform.
Users just aren’t as interactive, in any meaningful way, across Facebook - liking something doesn’t mean anything, and loyalty only comes through meaningful engagement. So what’s the solution?
Cue niche social networks.
The sudden explosion of Pinterest has highlighted the growing trend for social networks focused around a single theme or hobby - Pinterest allows users to express themselves through imagery alone.
A plethora of niche networks have been plugging a hole which the likes (excuse the pun) of Facebook have failed to accommodate, namely experiences tailored to your personal interests.
While still a fledgling network in the UK, it has amassed a large following in the US, and it is easy to see why - it caters perfectly for the needs of the casual (and more than casual) drinker.
It allows users to check-in to a beer at specific locations, and then rate it. Simple.
But this provides location tailored beer ratings for everyone on the network, allowing users to see what’s available at their local, and if it’s any good.
Such an app provides a wide range of possibilities for promotions and localised engagement as well as incentivising brands to improve quality and customer satisfaction.
The responses stay up on the site and can be used almost as an encyclopaedia of personal knowledge and experiences from across the globe.
A brand could easily take advantage of this highly personal involvement by sharing equally personal details about their brand and company, and responding directly to queries - a major reason for consumers to communicate with brands on social networks.
All in all, this rise of the niche social network removes any excuses for brands not to interact with their customers.
They are a far more effective method of online communication than scrapping for likes or retweets from tens of thousands of users who, in all likelihood, won’t become loyal customers.
All that is required is to identify your core target audience, target them across the medium that best suits the interests of them and the brand, and watch as engagement blossoms into loyalty.
Mike Spicer, chief executive, Pulse Group
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