By quantifying consumer perceptions and sentiments about brands in real-time, marketers now have the power to see how they stack up against their competition, understand where they are excelling, and identify where they can improve. These insights can empower marketers to continuously fine-tune their campaigns to strengthen relationships with existing customers and increase brand visibility in the marketplace.
To reach this level of maturity and marketing agility, brands need to step back to gain a deeper understanding of what drives customer decisions today, how to measure brand love, and how marketing professionals can help brands achieve and sustain understanding with their consumers.
Achieving and Sustaining Brand Love
Consumers now make purchase decisions based on considerations both personal and societal. Everything from considerations like “my health” and “my lifestyle” to bigger issues like inflation, social injustice, or the climate crisis can influence consumer decisions. In light of these influences, the consumer carries conflicting expectations and complex demands.
When we say “brand love,” we’re really talking about how brands rank with consumers in terms of passion, trust, and customer satisfaction. While the ways brand love is measured can be difficult to quantify, creating and sustaining brand love starts with establishing a connection with consumers that goes beyond the products and services they offer. It means creating brand associations that are larger than the brand itself.
But creating a meaningful connection with consumers doesn’t happen overnight. In order to understand their own level of brand love, marketers must go beyond static surveys and actually listen to what consumers are saying at the moment. This can be accomplished by benchmarking where you stand with consumers and against competitors, distilling customer conversation data to understand high level-themes and issues better, and then identifying areas for improvement. Once marketers understand how their brand stacks up, they can put actionable plans in place to increase and maintain brand love.
To improve your marketing strategy and develop a connection with consumers that results in passion, satisfaction, and trust, follow these three tenets of brand love:
1. Love is built on trust: In order for brands to build trust, they need to actively engage their consumers in a two-way conversation. One way to do this is to loosen the reins on brand image control for channels like social media and embrace user-generated content (UGC). Letting go of being perfectly “on brand” allows marketers to put more trust in digital creators who deliver content that gets high engagement. Incorporating UGC into your social strategy can help you save time creating new content and lets you build relevance with target audiences.
2. Listening influences action: Use social listening to monitor for both positive and negative sentiments. It has become increasingly critical to address and mitigate negative sentiment as a crucial part of being a loved brand. A good social listening program can help marketers spot an emerging issue before it becomes a crisis. Monitoring brand mentions can provide advanced warning of surging social activity. But if you really want to keep an eye out for a potential crisis, you should also be monitoring social sentiment and making time to develop a comprehensive crisis management strategy that involves turning those consumer sentiments to brand action. Understanding where consumers stand is a good start, but brands must also show they are acting in alignment with their consumers’ interests.
3. Choose social channels with purpose: Now more than ever it’s critical that marketers identify and utilize the most appropriate social channels for their objectives. According to Talkwalker’s recent Brand Love report, 7 in 10 Facebook users say that they use the platform to communicate with friends and family, making this the main function of activity on Facebook. Meanwhile, 77 percent of TikTok users say they use TikTok to look for funny and entertaining content. Marketers should be strategic in aligning their content with what’s motivating people to use each social network and continue to listen to users as platforms and their functions evolve.
Organizations that learn to listen deeply and create adaptive marketing plans in light of what they hear will be recognized by consumers as brands that are in tune with their customers and loved in return.
The author, David Low, is VP of Marketing in the Americas for Talkwalker, a leading social data intelligence company.