Is social media influence the new key to building brand loyalty?

Photo: RetailWire
Mar 23, 2017

Dan Alaimo

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the monthly e-zine, CPGmatters.

According to research from Inmar, 83 percent of shoppers are more likely to buy products recommended by friends or social network influencers.

“Influencer marketing presents a tremendous opportunity to bolster traditional marketing initiatives to drive activation and begin building a brand’s relationship with the shopper,” said Brooke Smith, senior director, brand solutions at Inmar, in a recent webinar.

According to Inmar’s findings:

  • Seventy-one percent of shoppers say they are more likely to purchase a product after a social media recommendation;
  • Seventy-four percent use social media to make purchase decisions;
  • Sixty-one percent have made a purchase based on a blog post.

One of the most essential aspects of influencer marketing is understanding the relationship between the influencer and the follower, notes Dave Momsen, SVP, business development, Collective Bias, an Inmar company. “These relationships are grounded in trust. In order to keep these relationships intact, content must be authentic and relevant.”

Beyond the customization of content, “the channels where you are delivering content have to cater to your target shopper,” Ms. Smith said. For example, Millennials come in contact with nearly twice as many media touch points as their older demographic groups.

One step in trying to reach them is to learn what media touch points they are intersecting with, she notes. Another step is to know what the net influence of those touch points really are, because messages are not created equal.

“Understanding the net influence becomes really key. Equipped with that data, we are empowered to make sound decisions, not only about what content to deploy, but where exactly to place it and how shoppers are likely to respond to it,” Ms. Smith said.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What advice would you have for driving brand loyalty through social media? How should social media complement traditional marketing?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
"Social is not just about content, it's about creating a forum for engagement and conversation with your brand."
"...nothing proves a negative review wrong like instant, well-publicized customer service."
"Social media is just the new forum for word of mouth. Maybe we could call it “word of text” or “word of Twitter” — but it’s still the same old thing."

Join the Discussion!

17 Comments on "Is social media influence the new key to building brand loyalty?"

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Jon Polin

Happy to see the Inmar gentleman mention trust, authenticity and relevance. These are key components of the relationship between brand and consumer regardless of the brand. Social media must be an extension of the trust, authenticity and relevance that brands should bake into all aspects of their brand — products, packaging, collateral, marketing, PR, voice, etc. The beauty of social media as a way to elevate and enhance the components of a brand is that a.) it can be a two-way conversation between brand and consumers and b.) it is a channel that can spread a message efficiently.

Anna Tolmach

Social is not just about content, it’s about creating a forum for engagement and conversation with your brand. Social is absolutely critical not only as a channel in and of itself but also to amplify other efforts. One great example was the Levi’s campaign in which they hosted a concert in Brooklyn and the ticket for admission was wearing your favorite Levi’s. This created an opportunity for organic social sharing in a way that was completely authentic and resonated with the customer and the brand. The critical piece is the exchange and the back and forth as a way to foster loyalty — sharing in and of itself is likely not enough.

Charles Dimov

Social is often used as a marketing magnifier. If a retailer has done its social work and built up a network of followers, then their messaging can propagate through social when it is engaging, interesting and valuable. However, it is always amazing to see some good marketing content that goes back to quote what customers have said about them, their product and their service experience on social. So smart marketers will use it both ways.

Chris Petersen, PhD.

The 4 Ps of Marketing were all about the “product.” The 4Ps have been replaced by the 4Cs:

  • Choice;
  • Convenience;
  • Customized;
  • Connected.

In order for brands to connect through social media, they need to address the 4Cs, when and where the customer wants to be engaged. The art of social media is not blasting out ads about products and the brand, but rather engaging customers in talking about the brand and how they use products.

Social media = consistent content with communication that connects customers.

Di Di Chan

Remove the distraction of the social media aspect and the research will likely still find similar results. Personal recommendation from people we know (assuming we like and trust that person’s recommendations) carries a lot more weight than a commercial advertisement (especially when people are paying to turn off ads nowadays). At the end of the day, it comes down to the core product — is it cool, good, neat enough for people to notice, for people to buy and also for people to share/recommend. A lot of the time a marketing campaign (social media or not) takes off because the product is really desirable. The exact same promotion on another less-attractive product can generate completely different results.

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)

Social media is most suited to amplifying a message. In its arm-waving and in-your-face approach, social media is always in telling and talking mode, so brands really benefit when they are in listening mode and at the ready to challenge wrong information, support brand champions and apply correction or improvement to their operations as needed.

Jasmine Glasheen

Quick response times via social outlets are imperative. Customers go to a brand’s Twitter, Facebook or Instagram to vent frustrations in a very public way, so it’s wise to have a customer service rep prepared to respond to negative reviews. Well-tended social media accounts increase engagement and customer satisfaction. Plus, nothing proves a negative review wrong like instant, well-publicized customer service.

Anne Howe

Well, this post sounds more like an ad for Inmar/CB services, but the fact remains that influencer marketing is real and important to every brand. I don’t think of influencer marketing as different from traditional marketing. “Traditional” as a descriptor of marketing is outdated. Customer-centricity and shopper-centricity is what every marketing touchpoint should be focused on. The intent can be to deliver brand promise, brand experience or brand offer/USP, as long as it is focused on delivering on an expectation, want, need or even unmet need. That’s where the rubber meets the road — building relationship and trust.

Good for Inmar for assembling the resources to make well-guided decisions that help clients deliver influence that creates behavior change.

Ben Ball

I didn’t even bother to read the article on this one, so my apologies to Mr. Alaimo. But I didn’t have to in order to answer the question posed. At least, the one posed by the headline.

No. Word of mouth from trusted influencers is still the key to building brand trial and, combined with delivering the brand promise, the key to brand loyalty as well. Social media is just the new forum for word of mouth. Maybe we could call it “word of text” or “word of Twitter” — but it’s still the same old thing.

Lesley Everett

Building brand loyalty is as much about creating a personality for the brand as it is about promoting the products. This will come from knowing more about how the company operates from an ethical standpoint, social responsibility commitments, personality of the key people running the business and how they project themselves internally and externally thus affecting employer brand. If a consumer has an impression of a nice company to do business with that treats people with trust and respect then this in turn builds brand loyalty. This is an area that social media can support brilliantly if managed well.

Ricardo Belmar
Social media is just that — social. It’s about the conversation, the dialogue between people, the engagement. I’s not about what the brand says about itself, it’s about what other people say about the brand that matters. People trust people, not necessarily brands. That’s how trust, authenticity and relevance are created in the minds of a consumer. Social media gives brands not the explicit ability to influence, but the ability to engage with people talking about their brand in a meaningful way. This is why Millennials tend to care more about brands that have a “face” that demonstrates they care about the world. That’s how they view authenticity. It’s why celebrity endorsements don’t have the effect they used to and why product reviews have become so important. Social media is now a critical part of any brands marketing effort. The key is creating an environment with their products that people want to talk about without being obviously prompted to do so. When brands overtly try to generate a conversation via social in a “sales-y” way… Read more »
Guy Mucklow
Guy Mucklow
President and Co-Founder, PCA Predict
3 years 6 months ago
Social media offers a strategic channel for retailers looking to build brand loyalty. Today’s everyday shopper is increasingly integrating social media into their personal retail experiences — following their favorite stores on Twitter to get coupons, trying new brands based on Facebook ads and contacting customer service via social media accounts. With social media becoming an integral part of the retail industry, it is time for businesses to better leverage their own social media channels. Creating a strong social media presence helps retailers get in front of more customers — both current and potential — and provides a way to connect and directly interact with them through product recommendations, coupons and creative campaigns. However, simply having a social media presence is not enough — in fact, having a social media presence but failing to effectively manage it can be seriously detrimental. Shoppers often air their frustrations with a company or brand on social media for all to see. Issues with a product and failed deliveries are strong drivers of this. Without an effective social media… Read more »
Brandon Rael
The key to an ongoing and sustainable relationship with your retail customers will now also include trust, confidence and a sense of community, which can be built and developed through authentic social media interactions. In a sense, the traditional industrial advertising and marketing complex is evolving and losing its significance, and the power of social media is driving connections between the retailers and consumers. Scott Galloway and the L3 team have articulated this concisely here. With unlimited shopping choices, channels to shop in, and the desire for meaningful, and friction-less shopping experiences, today’s consumers are literally engaged in social media all day long, and this has become an extremely relevant channel for relationship building. Social insights labs, and strategist are popping up all over the industry. If you are not in this game, you are literally losing out on significant revenue generating opportunities. The data that is acquired via social media is extremely valuable, and can help drive the personalized, customized, and satisfying experience, with a generation that are digital natives, and continuously engaged on… Read more »
Ralph Jacobson

Today, social content is “table stakes” for retailers and brands. Social influencers are critical to driving true loyalty. Manually defining key brand influencers is tedious and unproductive. There are great technologies that can capture the unstructured social sentiment data that can generate fantastic insights for retailers. Employing a dedicated staff for quick responses to influencer content is a great component to an effective marketing strategy.

Stefan Weitz

I couldn’t agree more with this study. As I work with retailers across the world, I’m constantly hearing that their buyers and assortment planners are struggling to keep up with rapidly changing consumer tastes.

Their former perch as curators and tastemakers is at risk as more consumers — especially younger ones — get more of their inspiration and purchase ideas from influencers or friends across a variety of channels (online and offline!).

Authentic engagement and listening (not just talking) on these channels can help retailers tap into what is happening in their segment that they might not otherwise know about. Combine that with quick twitch, even temporal partnerships with inspired and hot manufacturers and retailers suddenly can both listen and respond effectively to what people want.

Shep Hyken

Social media is marketing. Influencer marketing is powerful. Reviews are powerful. People trust their “neighbor.” Influential people using and endorsing product is working. Try to get customers to shoot pictures and videos of them using products. Post with reviews. Create images of customers (real customers) mixed with endorsements. People like to do business with the retailers they can relate to.

Doug Garnett
Doug Garnett
President, Protonik
3 years 5 months ago

Friends and authorities have always had tremendous impact on shopping. But the question isn’t whether that continues. The question is: Does an overt campaign to ratchet up intensity of what marketers deem to be “influencers” cause the natural shopping cycle to become more profitable?

I think we need to be very careful here.

The term “influencer” is misleading. What marketers can control is NOT the influence that friends and authorities that have always had on final decisions and on the naturally credible product recommendations.

What marketers DO control are an artifice that’s labelled “influencer.” In my experience, some are and some aren’t. And, in my experience, it’s not common that profits increase from today’s overt attempts to make them more productive.

Consider a significant fact: What drives word of mouth about your product most effectively and cost effectively? TV advertising. NOT paid attempts to get other people to advocate for your products.

"Social is not just about content, it's about creating a forum for engagement and conversation with your brand."
"...nothing proves a negative review wrong like instant, well-publicized customer service."
"Social media is just the new forum for word of mouth. Maybe we could call it “word of text” or “word of Twitter” — but it’s still the same old thing."

Take Our Instant Poll

Are most brands underestimating or overestimating the value of social media engagement?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...