There are three key drivers of member loyalty. You need to have a great product or service, you need to demonstrate value, and you need to provide a superior member experience. Do all three well and you will have loyal members who happily renew year after year, and who, even more importantly, tell their colleagues, employees and professional networks. Do one (or all) badly and you create members who never want to hear your association name again. Let alone give you their hard earned money.
Research by Walker tells us that by 2020 the majority of purchasing decisions will be based on the customer experience. This shouldn’t be surprising given people do business with people they know, like and trust. When brands engage positively with customers via social media they start to build a trusted relationship, making the customer feel valued. While this research looks at consumer products, it’s no different for member-based organisations.
Social media can help your brand STAND OUT. When social media is used to amplify your engagement with your members, it will enhance their member experience.
Six steps to using social media to increase loyalty:
- Get social – have an active presence on the social media platforms where your customers hang out. By active, I mean post content of value (not all advertising or self-promotion), follow your members so you can get to know them AND they can get to know you, and engage them in conversation. I always get a little thrill when an association I’m a member of shares my content and engages me in a conversation online.
- Invest in social listening tools to track when your association is mentioned. There are free as well as paid options.
- Respond whenever anyone mentions your brand (regardless of whether it’s positive or a negative). Not replying when people are talking to you on social is akin to ignoring a phone message, or pretending you don’t see someone standing in front of you who is talking to you. It’s rude and people notice. In his excellent book, Hug Your Haters, online customer service expert Jay Baer says “social media makes customer service a spectator sport”. This is because when a customer posts a comment online about a brand – good, bad or ugly – everyone can see it. It’s also obvious how (or if!) a brand replies.
- Be honest, show empathy and be authentic in your responses. Yes, you will probably need some guidelines on how to respond, but encourage your community managers to use their own voice when replying, so it doesn’t sound like a script.
- When you have complaints, show empathy in your response, but also make sure you offer a solution to the problem.
- Engage your members proactively – share valuable content that helps solve their problems, comment on their posts and build rapport.
Engaged members are committed members. I have been a member of Professional Speakers Australia for years, including the years when I wasn’t professionally speaking. I stayed a member because the leadership team made me feel valued. They regularly reached out to me to see how I was and how they could support me. That kindness means I frequently rave about them to anyone who will listen.
How are you using social media to increase member loyalty?