Mastering Social Media for Customer Retention

Let’s discuss a few statistics on retention rates and social media.  Consider the following, courtesy of Joe Clark:

  • Acquiring a new customer is seven times more expensive than retaining an existing one.
  • 37% of marketers see social media as the most effective medium for customer retention.
  • A mere 5% increase in customer retention rate can increase profits by 25-95%.
  • The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%.
  • The average cost of a lost customer is $243.
  • Finally, existing customers are 50% more likely to try new products, and spend 31% more than a new customer.

Those numbers are, well, hard to ignore.  They’re especially so because they’re not industry-specific—they apply across markets, which means they apply to you.  Having established the value and financial ramifications of customer retention, Clark goes on to provide some suggestions on how you can leverage social media to improve your retention rates.

Building an Authentic Relationship

The first recommendation sounds straightforward: “social listening,” or paying attention to the messages your customers send regarding their preferences.  In other words, social media isn’t the sort of tool you wind up and forget about.  You want your customers to engage with your social media platforms—and when they do, they want you to engage with them.

Going hand in hand with this suggestion is rewarding active users.  “Identify customers that are promoting your brand, products and services and reward them with incentives to strengthen your bond with them,” encourages Clark. 

This is an acknowledgment of one of the most remarkable parts of social media in business: customers who talk to and about your brand are raising awareness of your offerings for free.  Make sure they have a reason to keep doing so with deals, social media-specific promotions, and more, and you’ll maintain a great relationship with the customers most likely to reward you back.

This relationship needn’t come purely through rewards—or, rather, a more robust understanding of rewarding customers through social media is valuable.  The first kind of reward you offer a visitor of your page is the content itself, which is both an attractor and a reason for visitors to stay.

Sprout Social’s social media manager Rachael Samuels explains that the relationship “…starts with creating authentic, genuine content that adds value for the audience.”  The statement on value addition is huge here, leaning into an approach closer content marketing than an “over promotional” tone.  After all, those who come to your social media pages aren’t likely in need of a heavy-handed value proposition; more of them already interested in your product or services, so provide something valuable instead of a hard sell.  Entertainment, education, tutorials—anything that’s relevant and worthwhile for your customers will promote a strong, positive relationship on social media.

Supportive, Responsive, and Competitive

John Boitnott also counsels focus on the role of social media as a provider for real-time support, and the customer retention it can provide.  Social media gives you a “…valuable chance to provide fast, responsive, and quality customer support,” and this support improves customer experience and their opinion of your brand.

Going hand-in-hand with a better opinion of your brand is increased brand loyalty—leading to customer retention and, as others see your effective support, driving more conversions. 

Boitnott also points out that paying attention to what your customers are saying on social media isn’t just about engagement: it’s about staying ahead of the competition.  Hearing customer interests and concerns can inform product development and make your next offerings even more successful, and again, this information is essentially free for your team to absorb.  Listening to social media can noticeably affect your bottom line.

Finally, Tamar Weinberg provides an imperative in any social media-related customer retention effort: make sure your business is easy to locate on social media.  As the author explains, while this might sound obvious, too often companies “…restrict their activities to one or two social networks and ignore the others, or simply don’t promote their social media profiles enough for anyone to notice.”

Luckily, Weinberg tells us the solution to this problem is straightforward.  “Identify the social media platforms where your customers are active and talking about you, and be sure to maintain active profiles on those platforms.”  The admonishment against a single-platform approach is not an argument that you must be on every available social network; it’s simply saying that you should have a presence everywhere your customers prefer to spend their time. 

Focusing on the Right Platform

If none of your customer base seems to be Twitter-focused, then that’s probably not a platform where you’ll need to maintain a major presence.  It’s important to acknowledge that your product will likely not be reason enough for customers to develop a totally new relationship with a social media platform—in other words, they won’t likely follow you to Twitter if you refuse to post anywhere else.  If, on the other hand, they seem to prefer Facebook and Instagram, you should be visible on both and participate actively.  Meet them where they are.

Mastering social media for customer retention isn’t really a difficult equation.  It involves listening to your customers, rewarding their promotion of your brand, leveraging the insights and types of promotions you see towards future products, and above all, making sure your social media presence is visible.

These aren’t really even insights that are social media-specific; they’re good practices in general.  Leverage social media, and keep your loyal customers coming back.  It’s often just a matter of paying attention, showing appreciation, and making sure you’re easy to find.  The results will speak for themselves. How do you approach your organization’s social media?  Are you careful to be on your customers’ preferred platforms?  What kinds of products or services have been inspired by social media?