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chiang mai thailand september 24 2014 social media brands printed on sticker and place SBI 301087646
chiang mai thailand september 24 2014 social media brands printed on sticker and place SBI 301087646

How to use social media to build a loyal customer base

By: Georgina Atwell-marketing expert and the founder of Toppsta

Love it or hate it, social media is an incredibly important tool for growing your business. It’s a brilliant way to build your brand’s identity, speak directly to customers and create a loyal customer base who are highly engaged with your brand.

Back in 2014, my business, Toppsta, was just an idea I’d been carrying around in my head, but seven years on, after a huge amount of work and a very steep learning curve, we are the UK’s leading children’s book review platform and have a reach of more than 44,000 across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

We’ve built this loyal customer base using a few simple techniques:

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  • Target your key customers. It’s worth writing down all the different customers that you have. Just write down 3-5 things you think you know about them – what they’re looking for, where they currently go to fulfil their needs, which social media platforms they are on etc. Then you need to think about which customers represent the biggest opportunity, and just to flag, this may not necessarily be the *biggest* group. Once you have them front and centre in your mind make sure that the social media channel and your tone are appropriate for each customer.
  • Be clear about what you stand for. In the early days I really didn’t have an ‘elevator pitch’, I’d waffle on about helping children to find good books and helping publishers find readers. That really didn’t differentiate us from bookshops, libraries or other initiatives. Now we’re clearly about #BooksLovedByKids so yes, you can see which books adult are enjoying in the Sunday papers but if you want recommendations from children, you need to come to
  • Be transparent about who you are. My relationship with our early followers on Facebook was very personal. They knew my name, they knew I had kids, they understood I was passionate about getting kids reading and I answered every query personally. This showed our customer base that I wasn’t a corporate entity following a script. I suddenly realised recently, that we had never shared anything about the team on Instagram. So we posted a picture of me and the various members of the team and overnight our engagement increased four-fold. Don’t assume people know your story.
  • Post daily. It’s unrealistic to expect people to remember which days you share content so if you can, post regularly. Every day we have a book giveaway and a review, so our fans know that we always have the most up to date book recommendations and news. If you go offline for any length of time, it’s very hard to get that loyalty back.
  • Be quick to respond to queries. This is a tough one because there are always a million and one things going on in a normal day and we all want a break from social media but in general it’s best to get back to a query within a couple of hours and certainly the same day.
  • It’s really important that you analyse and adapt your communication for each channel. In the early days we didn’t find Twitter very effective or at least, not as effective as Facebook to reach our customers. Now, it’s very different, its hugely popular with one of our most important customer groups (teachers and librarians) and is probably our most engaged channel. Twitter changed, so we needed to change with it. It’s so important to keep analysing the platforms that you’re using and varying your tone and content appropriately. One size definitely doesn’t fit all.
  • Make it a two way conversation. Followers are much more likely to engage if they feel that their opinion matters. Rather than just shouting our message we are constantly asking for feedback and ideas. Over time this has really helped us to refine our USP and our messaging.
  • Reward your most loyal customers. We have a small number of families who write INCREDIBLE book reviews and we reward them in a variety of ways. They win more giveaways than average, get access to exclusive goodies and we have an invitation-only Facebook Group where they can feedback on new features and win more books.

Georgina Atwell is a marketing expert and the founder of Toppsta, the UK’s leading children’s book review site, where kids, parents and teachers go to read book reviews and recommendations for the latest children’s books.

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