3 Tips to Increase Brand Love on Social Media
What’s the one thing better than a paying customer? A devoted customer. A customer that repeatedly purchases your goods or services: that holds your company above similar ones, even if others are better or cheaper or more convenient: that brings you referrals. And the key to earning that kind of devotion is what researchers call “brand love.”
A 2020 study by Bazi et al. found that brand love is one of the key factors in determining how people purchase luxury goods. However, several other studies have been done on the phenomenon which have found that it extends far outside the luxury industry, such as one conducted in 2012 by Batra et al. And everyone agrees: it’s practically always in your business’s best interests to aim for brand love in your consumers, as opposed to less potent alternatives like brand passion. Which is why in this post, we have aggregated and summarized the top methods studies have found to promote brand love in consumers.
Make the brand feel “tailored” to the consumer
Self-congruency is one of the key ways to foster brand love among consumers.
In a post by the Harvard Business Review, Tim Halloran identifies customers being able to say “X is a brand for me” as a strong indicator of whether or not they love your brand. Bazi et al.’s findings support this claim, as they found that many customers engage with brands on social media precisely because the personality of the brand is congruent with their own perceptions of themselves.
One way to create this feeling is by letting consumers literally tailor the product to themselves. Batra et al. cite Toyota’s now defunct Scion marque, which gave buyers dozens of customization options to choose from. But even if the product itself is customizable, what’s most important is that the brand itself is what consumers find their values and self-perceptions reflected in (for another example, see the famously successful Wendy’s Twitter account). That way, their affinity for your brand and all its products will rise—even if they’re products the consumer previously may not have cared about.
Appeal to Intrinsic Rewards
Here’s a question. You’re going out for ice cream with your family and you have two options. You can either go to Ice Cream Shop A, where the personnel ask what you want, serve you, and move onto the next customer. Or you can go to Ice Cream Shop B, where the personnel remember your name, ask how you’re doing, and are always smiling. Assuming the ice cream itself is more or less the same between the two, which do you choose?
Of course you choose the second one. Even though the product is essentially the same, the intrinsic rewards provided by Ice Cream Shop B—happiness, feeling welcome, a livelier atmosphere—generally make it the preferable option of the two.
And even if you chose Ice Cream Shop A, it’s because to you, the lack of conversation is its own intrinsic reward. Maybe because you’re more introverted and prefer minimal interaction. Maybe because you were just having a bad day, and weren’t in the mood for conversation.
It’s understandable, then, why intrinsic reward is such a crucial aspect of brand love. As Batra et al. write, “when brands provided only extrinsic rewards, respondents often felt they did not really love the brand but rather were just using it to get something else that they did love.” If you can provide intrinsic rewards to your consumers in addition to the extrinsic rewards, then they’ll associate those rewards and feelings with your brand. And the love they develop for your brand as a result can be all the difference between whether they bring their business to your company or the competition.
Make the consumer feel they can trust the brand
Consumer trust is an increasingly rare commodity.
Halloran writes that a consumer being able to say “X is a brand I can trust” is a strong measure of their brand love, and it isn’t difficult to see why. Whether it’s reports of Facebook secretly sharing users’ data with third parties or yet another tale of how some major hack has compromised millions of customers’ personal information, people are becoming increasingly wary of extending their trust or information to brands—never mind their money.
And yet, as anyone who has ever been in a relationship can tell you, trust is a foundational part of love. Including brand love.
It can be daunting to try to earn consumers’ trust. For one thing trust isn’t easily quantifiable, like money or employees. For another thing, even if you do try to quantify it—such as through a survey or online poll—there’s no way of knowing if consumers are telling the truth. Still, the benefits a brand can reap from succeeding in earning (and, more importantly, maintaining) a consumer’s trust make the risk worth the reward.
The ways you attempt to make consumers feel they can trust your brand can vary wildly depending on what exactly it is your brand does. However, one near-universal way to earn consumer’s trust is through corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives. Showing consumers that your brand genuinely cares about the environment and society by performing philanthropic actions is a strong way of improving consumer reputation, as many studies have shown that CSR is one of the top considerations consumers take in deciding where they bring their business. Just make sure you actually follow through on those initiatives, as lying about CSR is also a great way to lose consumer trust—permanently.
In sum, creating brand love in your consumers should always be on your to-do list. As Tony Robbins famously said, “People buy feelings, not things.” And besides, if your business isn’t the kind of place you yourself would want to spend your money, why would you want others to?