Social media has forever changed how businesses and consumers interact.
Every business in today’s market is trying to figure out how to best leverage it to attract loyal customers and keep their current customers for life.
However, despite the hundreds of resources readily available, social media is still of the major aspects of digital marketing that businesses struggle to understand.
In his follow-up to his first bestseller, Crush It!, Gary Vaynerchuk (affectionately known as Gary Vee) sets out to outline the different methods that brands are using to successfully build their social media following and earn customers for life with The Thank You Economy.
Consumers today want more than just a product or service, they want a relationship with the brands they do business with -- and if you plan on earning their loyalty, you better give it to them.
As always, in The Thank You Economy, Vaynerchuk delivers a message that’s passionate, but full of actionable advice.
Gary is the founder of VaynerMedia, a successful digital consulting agency, and a highly respected thought-leader when it comes to social media, so his books are undoubtedly must-reads on the subject.
Although I suggest reading the book for yourself to see all of the great examples he cites, I understand that you might not have time.
In this summary, I’m going to cover the major takeaway points from The Thank You Economy that you can use as the foundation for your brand’s social media strategy.
Why You Need to Build a Relationship With Your Persona
“People want to have close relationships with their brands. It still sounds a little weird today, but one day it won’t. The right time to start building those relationships is right now.” - Gary Vaynerchuk
It’s very rare for a company to exist as the only option in their industry.
Consumers have so many choices today it’s overwhelming. That’s one of the reasons why they want to form a relationship with your brand. An existing bond eliminates the hassle of having to make future decisions about where to get that product or service from.
People also like to think of the brands they do business with as a part of their identity; an extension of their personalities and beliefs.
For example, think about how people identify themselves as a Mac or PC person. It's not just a purchase decision, it's a sense of community and culture.
In the past, it would be hard to imagine such a level intimacy between people and brands, but Thanks to the internet, the world is a much smaller place.
Online, we can communicate with each other in real-time from anywhere in the world. Whenever we like a brand’s page on Facebook, their posts show up in our newsfeed alongside pictures and updates from our closest friends and family members.
Never before have brands had the level of access to their customers and their networks that they have today. However, the brands that don’t truly appreciate this concept are the ones who don’t get the full benefit of social media.
Building a relationship with your persona takes more work and presents challenges that you could completely avoid if you “don’t feel like messing with social media” like older, stubborn marketers.
When your customers feel appreciated and see their purchases from you as a part of a more profound relationship (instead of just a transaction), they are more loyal and likely to be lifetime customers.
Considering the value of a lifetime customer, it’s well worth the extra effort required to build a relationship with your customers.
How to Bond with Your Persona Through Social Media
This is a process and it’s not as simple as do X and get Y in return.
One of the common criticisms of social media is that you can’t measure the ROI, but as Vaynerchuk argues, not being able to accurately measure the ROI isn’t a good enough reason to avoid social media.
"In the end, no matter what obstacles a company faces in the Thank You Economy, the solution will always be the same. Competitors are bigger? Out-care them. They’re cheaper? Out-care them. They’ve got celebrity status and you don’t? Out-care them. Social media gives you the tools to touch your consumer and create an emotion where before there might not have been one." - Gary Vaynerchuk
Relationship-building through social media is a long-term strategy that requires persistence and dedication. However, you’ll see results quicker when you do it right.
Here are some suggestions from Vaynerchuk:
- Don’t be afraid of change
- Speak your persona’s language
- Allow your customers to shape your brand, but not its direction
- Build a sense of community around your brand
- Send your followers back and forth between different social media platforms
- Create marketing messages that target emotions and creative extremes
- Social media should always be approached with good intentions -- quality over quantity
- Use shock and awe to blow your personas’ minds and get them talking about your brand
- If you’re small, act like you’re big, and if you’re big, act like you’re small
In addition to those tips, Vaynerchuk also provides common mistakes that you should avoid, such as:
- Using random tactics without a clear strategy
- Only using social media to put out fires
- Using social media to brag or only talk about yourself
- Using social media as a press release platform
- Only publishing the material of others and never producing your own
- Using social media exclusively to promote products
- Expecting overnight results
Adding Transparency to Your Message
"If your organization’s intentions transcend the mere act of selling a product or service, and it is brave enough to expose its heart and soul, people will respond. They will connect. They will like you. They will talk. They will buy." - Gary Vaynerchuk
It only makes sense for businesses to become more personable. People crave human connection and regardless of their industry, behind every brand lies a group of people looking for the same thing.
Transparency is one of the aspects of social media that scares businesses.
They’re afraid of letting customers see their faults and they’re afraid that it makes it easier for competitors to steal their secrets. However, consumers have shown that they are more forgiving of companies that are transparent about their mistakes and flaws than they are of those who try to sweep their mistakes under the rug.
In fact, so many businesses are taking a transparent approach to marketing now that consumers are being trained to be suspicious of companies that aren’t transparent.
Consumers have different demands today than in the past and the brands that are open to changing their philosophy to meet those demands are the ones that pull away from the competition.
Take Your Time
"If people mentioned that they were drinking Merlot, I gave them my Merlot recommendation, but I didn’t mention that they could buy Merlot on my website. I didn’t try to close too early, like a nineteen-year-old guy; I made sure to invest in the relationship first." - Gary Vaynerchuk
Marketers always want to know how long it takes to see a positive ROI and that’s completely understandable. Building a relationship with your persona, however, is not an easily predictable process. There is no clear, linear path to success with it.
Some people take more time than others to win over. You can’t expect immediate results.
The point that Vaynerchuk makes repeatedly throughout the book is that brands have to consistently add value and out-care their competition to see results from social media. The goal isn’t a quick boost in sales, it’s a sustained boost in trust and lifetime customers.
Too many marketers view social media as a new form of PPC advertising, but that’s the exact opposite of what The Thank You Economy preaches.
Fortunately, so many brands take the wrong approach to social media and try to close the sale too soon, it’s that much easier for you to stand out.
As a business, isn’t that what you want anyways? Loyal customers are the ones that provide testimonials, leave positive reviews, and recommend you to their friends and family.
Customers that make instant purchases from brands they’ve never heard of aren’t going to stick around very long. Sure you might get one or two sales from them, but they’ll be off purchasing from other companies before you know it.
Loyalty requires commitment and commitment from consumers in today’s market requires brands to actually care. The more you care, the more they buy. It’s a win-win for everyone.