Under normal circumstances there are very few times in a person’s life when they’re open to changing brand loyalty: New parents transitioning from life without kids are typically the most open to changing their brand loyalty and shopping habits. But in recent months, demand for certain products (like hand sanitizer and toilet paper) surged, leaving some household name brands missing from the grocery shelves. Things aren’t exactly normal right now. And brands who have made even modest efforts to adapt and communicate during these unprecedented times have a unique opportunity to shift customer shopping habits—building brand loyalty that will likely pay off for years to come.
Forming New Attachments
Most people don't go into their wedding planning process thinking about brand loyalty—and I certainly didn't go into my wedding planning process anticipating a pandemic. But as I worked to adapt our May wedding for these unique times, I started to reflect on brand loyalty.
About two weeks before the wedding, I received a package of makeup products from Arch, a local beauty boutique. I had reached out to them (via their Instagram channel) after realizing all of my wedding day and pre-wedding hair and makeup appointments were cancelled, to see if they'd be willing to help me figure out what makeup I needed for my special day. They did me one (or two) better! They took the time to help me figure out what products would help me achieve the look I was going for; they sent some nice gifts including a handwritten note and "tissues for happy tears;" and they provided a video tutorial for me so that I was all set for my big day.
It should be noted that - prior to my wedding - I had never been to Arch before; but from now on, I'll be going to go to them for all of my makeup needs. And I've stopped considering my current salon for those types of services.
No E-commerce Site? Don’t Despair.
Businesses, large and small, that have made efforts to communicate and adapt to doing at least a small part of their business online are likely to gain new customers and build their loyalty. Small efforts can yield significant results.
Some businesses, like a local gift shop, don't have a full ecommerce site built out, but were able to do live videos or Instagram posts showcasing their products, and invited their customers to do "personal shopping" via Facetime, as well as contactless pickup.
In branding, feelings play a big role in the development of brand equity. Think about how television advertising works: When you're first getting to know a company or product, heart-strings and humor can play a big role in whether a certain product or company first grabs your attention. Positive feelings matter in the attachments that we form, and the loyalty we develop, to brands.
I'd walk through fire for our minster (and our faith community), who promised me we'd figure out a way to get married on time, even if we had to adapt what our ceremony looked like. We drove out of our way to do curbside pickup from a wine shop that helped us, via a quick email exchange, pick out budget-friendly sparkling wine from France, where our honeymoon was supposed to take place.
Communicate, Even When Things Aren’t Perfect
My husband's already-purchased-wedding-day suit is still stuck in a locked down men's suit chain, and communication never happened. Despite the fact that many retail shops have re-opened, we still (in mid-June) don’t know when we’ll see that suit.
And while some customers are always going to be unhappy about external factors that are beyond a business’s control, for many others a sincere apology and basic explanation of the circumstances goes a long way. That suit shop has lost our business for good, and likely the business of our friends and family as well.
My husband's wedding ring, which we found out also wasn't going to be done on time, was another matter. The small business making the ring communicated at each step in the process about what was happening—what stage of production the ring was in, whether there was a chance they could get it to us, and then, as stay-at-home orders were extended, a kind offer to send an in-stock replacement ring in case they couldn’t get it to us on time. (The original ring magically appeared in our mailbox on our way out the door to the church).
For our clients, we invite them to consider the opportunities presented at this unique moment in time to foster relationships with customers that will pay off for many years to come. It's not about being perfect, it's about being present.
A well-crafted annual report can be a powerful vehicle for sharing your message and accomplishments. Once finished, organizations often step back and strategize how to convert the full-breath of the report into engaging social posts. But what if you approach the annual report from a social media-first perspective at the very outset?
It's common knowledge that attention spans are getting shorter. We're bombarded by news, videos, and images every day, every where. It's estimated that Generation Z's attention span clocks in at roughly eight seconds, with 98 percent of them owning a smartphone. A report from Deloitte, the average American consumer now checks their phone 52 times per day.
That means your audiences are likely interacting with your annual report in ways you never planned for. Taking a social media-first perspective will do more than make your social media manager happy, it'll bring in more readers and drive fresh traffic to last year's content, keeping key stakeholders engaged throughout the year.
As you approach the year's end, take an inventory of all your blog posts, stories, photos, press releases and other materials over the past year. As you sort through it all, think about which stories qualify as the most compelling and keep in mind where you can utilize dynamic visuals. As you keep a social-first focus, consider using the following strategies to highlight the necessary facts, figures and images while opening the door to greater interest (and engagement):
Less Text, More Context
With many annual reports, there's a tendency to create drafty long stories and standard letters from the leaders. With a social media-first perspective, consider where you can use visuals instead of text--and gather together facts, figures, images and examples that can demonstrate your work and vision in a more succinct way.
Nonprofit Annual Report Example - Taking a Social Media-First Approach
For example, in developing last year's annual report for Food 4 Farmers, we spread a conventional story arc across three pieces:
The Pieces of a Story
When you build your story with different elements rather than a self-contained narrative, you'll make it easier to break your annual report down into posts that you can share over weeks and months as you roll it out.
In any of the narratives we used for Food 4 Farmers, we gathered common elements that easily convert into social media posts:
Extra Credit Considerations
For those of you eager to go above and beyond this year, we've got two more tips to share:
For ideas on boosting your content planning strategy, check out our Same-Page Content Planning Case Study. And if you're looking for help promoting your Annual Report or other accomplishments on social, we offer Social Media Management for nonprofits of any size.
There's a simple, powerful action you can take in the next five minutes to strengthen your social media brand.
This tip, which comes out of our social media audit work, is quick and easy to implement but will make a big impact.
Cornerstones of social branding
The cornerstones of social branding are consistency and repetition. You want to state the same key messages about your company, product, or service over and over again over a long period of time.
Are your social media bios consistent?
One quick action you can take to improve your social media branding is to look at your social media bios, or your “About” copy, on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.
Are you describing your company the same way every time? If not, take the best, most concise statement and use it as your bio across channels.
Example of consistent social branding: Starbucks
In each of the five examples below, you will see that Starbucks uses an identical bio on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. "Inspiring and nuturing the human spirit--one person, one cup, one neighborhood at a time."
Are your social bios searchable?
Bios are searchable, so if you are providing professional services, for example, you might want to mention what you do in your bio to make it easier for people to find you.
If the messaging is consistent, it's okay to tweak your bio slightly to fit the channel. In the example above, you can note that Starbucks' Instagram bio includes an emoji of a coffee cup.
Your Twitter bios may include some tagged accounts and hashtags. Executives, public information officers, and social media managers might want to tag their company accounts in their bios.
The Starbucks Partners Twitter account links back to the main Starbucks Twitter account and includes a branded hashtag for employee engagement.