Building Brand Affinity on Social Media

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As marketers, we know that branding can make or break a business. What makes a Nike shoe different from a cheap shoe with an inverted swoosh is the immeasurable value that comes with the original. Great brands have lasting impacts on their customers—sometimes, the love and loyalty even permeate through generations—like McDonald’s. But what makes us fall and stay in love with a brand? We invited Christina Garnett, community and advocacy expert at Hubspot, to talk about brand loyalty. Here’s a summary of our chat.

Guest: Christina Garnett
Topic: Building brand affinity on social media
Format: Eight questions directed at the guest. Everyone’s welcome to share.

Q1: What is brand affinity?

Brand affinity is when someone consistently chooses a specific brand over the other. When a brand becomes the go-to for a person, that’s when that brand has achieved affinity. There are many reasons for someone to prefer a particular brand—the consistent quality of the product, customer service, proximity, shared values, etc.

Ron put it nicely: brand affinity is a combination of different emotions. When your customers like you, can relate to you and your offering, and have a personal connection with your brand, then you have brand affinity.

Q2: Why should brands invest in building affinity?

It’s important because brand affinity is organic. That’s why, if and when you run into a rough patch, your loyal fans will have your back. They’ll promote you through positive reviews and word of mouth, support you, and help you get back on your feet. You can’t buy that kind of loyalty—that’s why brands should invest time and resources to build that affinity.

As Christine pointed out, when you have brand affinity, your customers will actively refer you to their friends and family. They’ll be your cheerleaders during the good times and the bad. That’ll only happen when you have fans who care about you, know, like, and trust you.

Q3: What should brands do to develop customer loyalty and brand affinity?

Prioritize customer experience. That includes happy customers as well. Often, we talk about acknowledging customers who leave negative comments or reviews, but we don’t talk enough about the ones who shower praises. As a brand, you should take care of both types of customers. It only takes a simple acknowledgment and ‘thank you’ to show a loyal customer that you value their business.

Janet shared some more excellent advice for developing customer loyalty. Be who you are, and always be available to engage with your customers and audience on social media. Focus on having genuine conversations and building relationships with the people who engage with you. The more people-oriented you are, the more loyal those people will be to you.

Q4: What are some ways brands can build relationships with customers on Twitter?

Show up to support and help them—not to push a sales pitch. Be genuine in your conversations and people will notice. Show empathy when you’re speaking to an angry customer and gratitude when you’re receiving compliments from a satisfied customer.

A great way to be there for your audience is to actually be there, as Madalyn said. Participate in Twitter chats and Spaces conversations. Listen to you what your audience has to say and share your own knowledge. This engagement helps you understand them, and also gives them an opportunity to learn about you.

Q5: How can you turn an uninterested audience into an engaged community?

Focus on providing value and building connections. Build a brand voice that can make announcement-style posts (one-to-many) but also have individual conversations with people (one-to-one). This is an important characteristic for a brand, because it makes you both friendly and personable while also establishing your authority.

As our friends from GiveWP reiterated, engage actively with your audience. Even if you can’t reply to each person who engages with you, like and retweet their posts to show that you’re listening and that you care about your communication with them. It won’t happen overnight, but over time, your audience will become your community.

Q6: How can you regain brand affinity after a reputation damage?

Though what you do to mitigate the impacts will depend on the scale of the damage, there are some things you can always do. Firstly, communicate with your audience transparently. Acknowledge what went wrong, and explain to them, in simple language, what you’re doing to prevent the incident from happening again. Listen to how your audience feels about the incident and find ways to rectify the problem.

As our friends from Social Media Pulse added, after a damaging incident, don’t assume you know what your audience wants. Their perspective of your brand would’ve changed—talk to them and ask for feedback. Ask what you can do to regain their trust.

Q7: Should a brand change its values to appeal to all types of audiences?

It depends. If your values are outdated and derogatory—although considered acceptable in a different time and space—then it’s entirely valid to reframe your value statement. It’s even worth rethinking what the brand stands for and who it serves. That said, as our guest pointed out if you intend to change your values for short-term benefits like poaching a competitor’s customers or preventing a drop in revenue, doing so is not ideal for your brand’s growth.

As Jim succinctly put it, if you try to please everybody, you won’t please anybody.

Q8: Name some brands that have successfully built brand affinity.

Our guest voted for Chewy, Apple, and HubSpot for their long-lasting brand affinity.

Other favorites that our community members shared included, Lush, Elf, Coca-Cola, Amazon, Gary Vaynerchuk, The Chicago Dogs, The Lincoln Project, and many more. Go on and check them out!

Well folks, that’s all from me this week. Thanks for reading through and for more great insights from our chat with Christina have a look at this Twitter Moment that Joana put together for us. If you like this summary, you’ll love the real-time chat. Join us next Thursday at 1 pm ET for #TwitterSmarter. We also have an after-chat on Twitter Spaces at 5 pm ET. See you there!

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About me, Narmadhaa:

I write all the things—marketing stuff to pay the bills; haiku and short stories so I feel wholesome. A social media enthusiast, I hang out with the #TwitterSmarter chat crew, and am always happy to take on writing gigs.

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