Have you ever noticed that brands are like people? In order to attract—and keep—loyal customers, your brand should resemble someone you’d like to grab a beer or coffee with on the weekend, or someone you know you can call anytime just to talk about life. Basically, your brand should be trustworthy. But much like the art of developing lasting friendships, it takes time for customers to feel comfortable enough to refer your brand to their friends. And while referrals are the most effective way to communicate a company’s trustworthiness to potential customers, you still need to build a foundation of trust with your first brand ambassador. Here are three key steps to doing that:
1. Be Authentic
If there’s one golden rule to friendship, it’s this: Be yourself! This same rule applies to building a brand on social media. In our increasingly transparent world, it’s easy for customers to spot the difference between when they’re being marketed to and when a brand is sincerely looking to engage with its customers. And we all know it’s easier to interact with a person who is warm and inviting. So the first step to becoming a warm and inviting brand is to stay true to who you are. Show some personality! Make your customers laugh with creative social media posts or interesting content. If your brand is geared toward a more professional B2B audience, then be helpful with your posts and show them you know what you’re talking about.
Along those same lines, it’s a good idea to get to know your followers. Start conversations, ask questions, and personalize your interactions with them. Doing this will show that your company is more than just some monolithic institution—it’s made up of real people who can relate to them.
2. Be a Brand They Can Believe In
Friendships aren’t built overnight and neither are brands. Earning your customers’ trust and praise requires that you continually post messages and produce experiences that communicate the strengths of your company. You’re showing people what you bring to the table and reassuring them that they can believe in your brand. Over time this growing credibility with your customers will develop loyalty, which will eventually lead to new referrals. And once customers are familiar with your brand and comfortable with its message, it’s only a small step from there to building lasting, loyal advocates. Think of it this way: your company is like that friend who knows all the cool spots in town. It may take a couple of trial runs before you trust that he or she knows how to show you a good time, but eventually it’s just a given that this is your go-to person for an unforgettable night of fun.
3. Be Consistent
Earning a customer’s trust requires time and work. Just like you wouldn’t invite a stranger to your house after one meeting, you also wouldn’t trust a brand simply because it has a fancy website. Your brand will develop as people learn that you deliver on your promises and meet customer expectations time and time again. This means not only providing a good customer experience, but also delivering a consistent message online. Through Facebook posts, emails, tweets, or any other customer acquisition channel, your brand should attract both new and current customers with helpful content and a strong voice. Consider it an upfront investment in the relationship: the more effort you put into building a friendship, the more value you’ll get out of it!
In today’s social world, customers are looking for social brands or, to say it a different way, brands they can really care about and engage with. As the saying goes, you need to be a friend to have a friend. And it’s no different online.
Which of your favorite brands feel like old friends?