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Is customer loyalty a thing of the past? Hardly – though achieving it is a trickier proposition, requiring skill, and the help of Social Media Analytics.

The key differentiator back in the day was product quality, but modern manufacturing methods have leveled that playing field. Brands now must compete based on other merits:

  • Ease of shopping experience
  • Customer service
  • Price
  • Availability of stock
  • What a brand stands for
  • Brand personality on social media

And more. In short, the availability of information online means literally anything can become the reason customers stay or go – and it can happen in an instant.

The challenge for brands, then, is to wrangle customers into loyal communities – where there’s safety in numbers, and the ability to create something special.

This next section of our Complete How-To Guide: Social Analytics explains how to use Social Media Analytics to guide your efforts in retaining customers by building and managing online communities.

Connect and Keep Them Coming Back

The first few posts in our How-To Guide deal with how to connect to consumers initially – by understanding their deepest desires and entering social conversations on their terms. This is also the key to keeping them. As attorney/author Maurice Franks has said:

“Loyalty cannot be blueprinted. It cannot be produced on an assembly line. In fact, it cannot be manufactured at all, for its origin is the human heart – the center of self-respect and human dignity. It is a force which leaps into being only when conditions are exactly right for it-and it is a force very sensitive to betrayal.”

Brands must relate to consumers human-to-human and monitor the delicate balance of connection at all times.

You’ve got to be more than a brand – you’ve got to be a friend. Your store – whether brick and mortar or ecommerce site – has to be a destination. You’ve got to use Social Media Analytics to provide an unparalleled customer experience, because that’s what breeds loyalty.

And there are several ways to do that.

Encourage and Recognize Participation

When consumers love a brand, their investment manifests in a desire to interact and share about that brand.

Your job is to recognize such interactions and encourage them. Use tools like Social Listening, Sentiment Analysis, and Image Analytics to spot the most passionate members of your audience, and their posts.

One thing to look for is user generated content (UGC) in the form of fan art, video testimonials, blogs, etc. Anything that puts your audience in the role of a brand ambassador.

It takes serious love to inspire such a time-consuming artistic effort.


Shout-out such posts! They’re a big deal – both because you didn’t ask for them, and they’re free advertising. Responding and sharing is the least you can do – and it costs far less than any traditional marketing efforts.

By thanking and retweeting, you give back to fans by making them feel like celebrities and showing the rest of your audience how they can earn a little love as well.

You’ll notice this post wasn’t shared thousands of times – but Dove still responded. That’s smart – because it’s the regular people buying your products and talking about your brand who most want the recognition.

This is why it’s important to be aware of brand mentions and hashtags. Don’t forget to use image analytics as well – in case fans forget to tag you. It’s particularly important to leave no stone unturned when posts go negative.

If you’re not seeing a lot of organic sharing, give your fans a directive – and an incentive. It doesn’t have to be much. A $100 gift card randomly awarded to one fan who shares a selfie wearing your brand’s apparel can be enough to send engagement soaring.

Create a Space for Your Fans to Communicate

Or give them a place to interact by creating an online community. Sephora is one example of a brilliant and thriving online community. As Marketing Insider Group notes, there is a bunch of benefits to enjoy from such a community:

  • Customer support cost savings between 10-25% annually, according to 49% of brands with online communities
  • Boosted brand exposure and credibility, making it easier to sell without “selling”
  • An always-on focus group for gathering insights on new products, services, and features (67% of businesses)
  • Improved engagement and customer retention
  • An exclusive channel for pre-launches of products and services before they go public

And influencers naturally occur out of such brand-consumer bonding – which we’ll talk about more momentarily.

For now, since they called out Sephora as an example of a “brilliant brand community,” let’s jump to NetBase Pro and see how that looks:

Sentiment for Sephora overall is 65% – with a large spike to 94% on 8/30/18, thanks to the orange heart emoji:


As an aside, for general Social Listening purposes, you’d want to look at the other conversations marked by the orange star and see what additional common ground you might find to tap into new audience segments. There’s one mention of candy corn – which could certainly inspire a shade of lipstick or an eye palette, etc.

But let’s take a look at the Sentiment Attributes:

These are the topics getting the most attention – with positive in green, and negative in red. The most positive attribute is “call Bold Beauty,” referencing posts about Sephora’s Bold Beauty initiative – offering free in-store makeup classes for transgender women.

And there’s that orange emoji again, which signifies “care, comfort, and serenity.” Wonderful emotions to have associated with your brand.

This is great information – and we can click on Attributes to understand more about them. This is something that can be done in the Beauty Insider community as well, by clicking on Trending Tags:

Screencap from https://www.sephora.com/profile/BeautyInsider 

Clicking on “help,” for example, brings us to posts asking for guidance in solving key beauty issues. Because this is a community forum, other Sephora users chime in to offer advice:

What’s great about this is the organic conversation happening. Sephora fans can share advice and recommend products, and it never comes off like a sales pitch, as it might coming from the brand itself.

The Good, The Bad, and The Influencers

There’s also the opportunity to invite anyone who offers a lot of help to be an influencer. They’re already invested in speaking for you – imagine what they’d do with a little incentive.

Online communities offer excellent opportunities to involve fans of your brand in your process. When they feel like part of the inner circle, they can’t help but brag about it on social media – which in turn inspires others to want in.

Influencers comes in many shapes and sizes. Which is better – a single celebrity influencer with their own legions of fans, or many influencers and their collective fan bases, big or small?

Both are wonderful! Choosing which to engage at a given moment comes down to what you’re trying to achieve, and who will best serve that goal.

For instance, Kobe Bryant is a top influencer – as well as investor – in the Coca-Cola/BodyArmor partnership.

Even if Kobe were simply a fan of the beverage – versus a stakeholder – he’d be a great choice. He’s an athlete who loves the product, with a ton of fans who want to emulate his life.

But you don’t need celebrities to get your brand out there – just fan passion. This has been proven numerous times by brands, including iHeartRadio, who uses influencers to drive engagement for the iHeartRadio Awards.

By pitting fans against each other to vie for the Best Fan Army award, iHeartRadio has created the perfect environment for fans to share about their favorite artists obsessively.

And everybody wins. The artists gain exposure, the iHeartRadio Awards get all the engagement they were looking for, and the fans feel like an important part of things – which they are.

And it can be that simple. Empower and appreciate your fans as much as you can, and they’ll stick with you.

Conversely, ignore them, and you’ll likely reap either apathy or viral complaining. Neither of which is desirable.

And that’s important to remember. Because just because you “have” them now, doesn’t mean you’ll keep them.

We see brands fall from grace on our Love Lists every year – and see just as many brands catapult up the ranks as consumer preferences change.

These changes happen quickly, so be sure to use social sentiment to triage your data, and keep you informed on all that’s happening within your online communities. You want them working with you – not your competitors.

Be sure to check out the rest of The Complete How-To Guide: Social Media Analytics as well as its companion The Complete Guide to Social Media Analytics. Additional topics include:
Additional topics include:

And reach out when you’re ready to get started with our comprehensive suite of social analytics tools!



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