Trust is the top reason consumers feel connected with a brand (66%), followed by brand’s values aligning with their own (53%) and feeling a brand understands them and their desires (51%).
That’s according to a new report from SproutSocial.
A brand’s popularity is not that critical to connection. Metrics like audience size and page views matter, but they say little about consumer sentiment or why someone stays loyal to a particular company.
There are several key tactics that brands can use to increase their connectivity with consumers, according to the report.
Brands must embrace social media. More than nine in 10 (91%) believe that social has the power to unite people, and 78% actually want brands to facilitate that connection.
"This speaks to the ongoing shift in consumer expectations that has been playing out over the past few years," says Jaime Gilpin, CMO, Sprout Social. "It is no longer enough for brands to deliver a good product. Today, brands that succeed will do so because they’ve showcased they’re more than the functional products they make."
When customers feel connected to brands, more than half (57%) say they will increase their spending with that brand, and 76% will buy from them over a competitor.
However, one of the quickest ways to sever a connection with a customer is to participate in conversations they find irrelevant or boring. Instead, the report recommends capitalizing on timely topics, albeit with some caution. While consumers want brands to use their platforms, not all issues are treated equally, as many brands have learned the hard way.
Most consumers (56%) would like brands to highlight awareness days or months on social, similar to how Barbie’s #MoreRoleModels campaign showcased female role models for International Women’s Day. The safest topics are natural disasters (76%), education (74%), environmental issues (71%), and human rights (70%).
A little under half of consumers (49%) say brands should use social to raise donations and 47% want brands to start conversations with their followers to rally people around touchy subjects.
Connection breeds loyalty, the report concludes, and also directly impacts a brand’s bottom line. Investing in relationships with consumers directly impacts business revenue and strengthens customer loyalty.
While some brands turn to outside influencers to boost awareness, others may want to look inward.
Consumers think employees are a brand's best advocates and they report feeling more connected to brands whose employees act as spokespeople on social. Brands should consider implementing advocacy strategies to encourage participation and simplify the sharing of approved content on employees’ personal profiles, the report recommends.
When a CEO has an active social presence 70% of consumers feel more connected to that brand. Of those respondents, almost two thirds (65%) say a CEO feels like a regular person if he or she uses social regularly.
Lastly, consumers want brands to leverage their platforms to help people unite across diverse backgrounds and perspectives. In fact, half of all people across the political aisle — 51% of conservatives and 54% of liberals — would like to connect with people who are different from them.
More from the report can be accessed here.