Few brands enjoy the loyalty that social media sites do. Tell a member of the Twitterati that you don’t tweet and they look at you as if you’re dousing yourself with lighter fluid. I was such a Digg fanatic, it took not one but two catastrophes to send me over to their competition, Reddit. The rare time someone does quit a social media site, it sounds more like a eulogy than an opt-out.
Businesses can increase their own customer loyalty by using some of the methods intrinsic to social media.
Build relationships between customers: Social media loyalty is strong because it unites friends, and friendship is among the deepest bonds you can build. What can you do to grow the bond between customers? Hold an event that brings customers together, host an online forum where people can swap product experiences/tips, or develop an aggressive referral program that helps turns people that already know one another into customers.
Increase frequency of contact: Most social media users visit their sites a few times a day. Frequency breeds loyalty. Especially if your product purchase cycle is long, you’ll want to look for ways to stay top-of-mind with customers through constant contact. eNewsletters with new ways to better use the product, loyalty programs or reminders for product maintenance, or (non-intrusive) customer service check-ins could work.
User-contributed content: People love what they see themselves in. Social media content is all user-generated. How can your brand invite contributions from customers? Starbucks has a whole site devoted to customers sharing ideas. A restaurant I go to lets customers write on their walls. Another had a contest for naming a new menu item.
Of course, a great way of doing all three of these things is by being active in social media.