Connection is a biiiiig deal. Connection is what helps people to know you, love you and buy from you. Connection means that you have a loyal tribe of people around you. You wouldn’t want to spend time with your friends if you didn’t have a connection with them would you? I’ve had friendships drift apart because we had less and less in common, and other friendships grow tighter as we’ve gained more connection. People who don’t feel a connection with your business don’t want to know about it.
Of course some connections can be negative, but I’m talking about connection in a knowing well, getting on, wanting to be part of your life sort of way.
You can’t build a good product if you don’t genuinely like the people who’ll be using it. You don’t have to be like them, but you have to like them.Cindy Alvarez
Most of the time the brands that you choose to spend with will be brands that appeal to you for some reason of other. Maybe your parents always shopped there and you’ve continued because of that, or maybe they have values which resonate with yours or the social posts are related to something you care about. You may have met the people who you’ve bought from or been following them for a while. For me, I’ve recently bought items from companies who care about the environment and don’t just create products which help with that, but they’ve spoken about it and made more of a deal out of it. I’ve also bought from businesses where I’ve met the people who run them and because I really like those people I want to support their business – and because of recommendation from a trusted person. Why do you buy from the places that you buy? Stop and think about it. It will probably be combination of convenience, price and connection.
Connection could be:
- similar values
- how people feel/ appealing to their desires
- meeting in real life (and liking that person!)
- family association
- taking part in conversations
- resonating with content
- shared interests
- caring about others
- a strong online community
- a response
- sharing your brand personality
- raising awareness of issues
“Fully connected customers are 52% more valuable, on average, than those who are just highly satisfied”.Harvard Business Review
Last year, Sprout Social released data all about connection and social media. 91% of people believed that brands and social can power connection. I have to agree – there’s so much opportunity in social isn’t there? You can easily connect with people once you know what your connection points are and on social you can do that 121 or one to many and also find those areas for connection. It’s a whole virtual world of possibility. 78% of consumers want brands to use social to people connect with each other. Now this survey was last year. Before covid, before lockdown. How different is the world NOW? How much have our real life social circles decreased due to this? I am gonna guess that this statistic will have increased now – because as humans we crave connection don’t we? And not always with those we love and live with. Connection with others is pretty essential to how we live isn’t it?
“Social media can have a big impact on emotional connection.”Harvard Business Review
When customers feel connected to brands, 57% will increase their spend and 76% choose them over a competitor. 64% of people increase their brand loyalty when they feel connected.
Wow. That’s powerful isn’t it?
So forget about brand connection and you can see that your sales will drop. If you’re not already doing it, then imagine how much more your sales could increase?
So get those connection points working for you. Spread your net. Find your people. Get connected.
Not forgetting that connection will likely bring you closer to people you actually LIKE so there could be more benefits beside an increased income. One of the things I love most about my business is meeting and having conversations with lovely people.
The Sprout Social survey went further than percentages and discovered how people feel connected to brands AND what they want from brands. So useful for us.
Here’s how people feel connected to brands.
- They trust the brand.
- The brand aligns with their values.
- The brand understands them and their needs.
- They depend on their product and services.
The article says that brands are the new “Relationship Experts” (if you’ve seen Frozen this might make you giggle too) and connections are built through:
- Helping people keep in touch with others
- Uniting people with different beliefs
- Introducing people to new people
- Teaching people something new
- Helping people understand a different point of view
The survey was carried out in advance of #BlackLivesMatter. I don’t know about you, but I feel this is hugely about uniting people, teaching people and helping people understand a different point of view. Even if you knew a fair bit about racism I bet you learned something. That’s the kind of connection we can build on – and it affects far more than just us in our businesses.
“Given the enormous opportunity to create new value, companies should pursue emotional connections as a science—and a strategy. But for most, building these connections is more guesswork than science. At the end of the day they have little idea what really works and whether their efforts have produced the desired results.”Harvard Business Review.
Connection should definitely have an emotional focus. How your audience want to feel is a magic factor in how connected they will be to your brand. According to Harvard Business Review the top 10 emotional motivators are:
- Standing out from the crowd.
- Having confidence in the future.
- Enjoying a sense of well-being.
- Feeling a sense of freedom.
- Feeling a sense of thrill.
- Feeling a sense of belonging.
- Protecting the environment.
- Being the person I want to be.
- Feeling secure.
- Succeeding in life.
Do any of these apply to your brand? What other emotional motivators can you use to help your audience connect with your brand? It might help to think about the things others have said about your brand, especially after they’ve worked with you.
Here’ s what people want.
This is ALL about trust. How can you create these things in your business?
- A positive contribution to society.
- Connection with customers.
- Use power to help people.
- Bring people together for a common goal.
- Raise the moral standard.
- Unite people from different backgrounds.
- Act as leaders in society.
Talking about social and political issues might feel a bit scary – but it’s so useful for connection that if it’s something that you really care about (don’t bother if it means nothing to you) then it could be worth starting a conversation, raising awareness or sharing a post when you feel appropriate. The top issues according to the survey are natural disasters or crises, education, environmental issues, human rights, poverty or homelessness and military/veteran issues. I’m sure you can see examples of these which have been relevant and easily sharable over the past several months. Covid of course, fires in Australia, free meals for children, #blacklivesmatter, refugees, vaccinations … there’s so many more examples and talking about these is only gonna help people connect with you isn’t it? You can stand in solidarity, you can share resources, you can share ways to donate or petition, update people or simply ask people what they think or how they’re feeling in relation to these things. Huge ways not only to connect with others but also to do some good.
In fact – Customer Thermometer shares that consumers would pay more for your products or services if they believed that your business was making a positive impact on the world or protecting the environment. Politics is a more complicated beast and you’d need to consider that one carefully before sharing an opinion. This one is more divisive and can cause people to boycott your brand (see Customer Thermometer again) but if it also means that the right people will buy from you maybe it doesn’t need to be an issue. Only you can make this decision.
Now here’s a big statistic for you. 70% of people feel more connected to a brand whose CEO is active on social media. They feel this gives them a better insight into the brand, they like learning about the brand leadership and they feel like there are real people behind the brand (which of course there are!)
Being active on social media means creating content. The top six topics that brands discuss on social media that make consumers feel more connected to them might be a good place to start if you get stuck. This is for posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn.. wherever you hang out with those ideal clients. Here they are:
- Your products and services
- Social good initiatives.
- Consumers or fans.
- Business performance.
- Issues facing society.
- Employee features.
Creating connection content.
Consumer Thermometer suggests that more important than trust is interest. This is about creating connections, being interesting to your audience. Trust will follow.
Some ideas for creating connection content are:
Interactive social content. Polls, questions, encourage people to tag others, encourage discussion, get people involved. Quizzes, games – have some fun and see what works best. Then do more of that.
Highlight common interests among customers. This is about the connection points you uncovered in Reflect and Reconnect. You know what those interests are – what are you gonna do with them?
Create groups. You could create a Facebook group, a messenger group, a whatsapp group… how would this work best for your audience and what could you put in there to help people more or to find out more about them?
Ask for feedback. Find out what works. Ask. Do surveys. Pop questions on your social media. Ask in real life. Ask on the phone. Ask as part of your process. Gather thoughts and suggestions and act on this information. Asking and doing will show that you care about the interactions your customers have with your business.
“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.”Elon Musk
Promote offline events. This is a bit harder right now – but that’s changing. Offline events do exist – can you show that your connection with your audience extends off-screen?
Highlight different points of view. This is about giving space to people to share their opinions. This could be a discussion topic or maybe something you’ve observed, or being open to different thoughts and watching the discussion carefully so that it stays amicable. Sometimes conversations can get heated but if you are mindful and careful then you can allow debates to take place and not fall out with anyone – which is better for you in the long run as you’ll be known for being fair.
Send emails. Email is a great way to connect with your audience. To share extra information. To give more to those who’ve been prepared to ask for more. Make those emails worth opening.
Highlight user-generated content. If you sell a thing you can ask for photographs of it in use. You can use testimonials. You can share emails and conversations (you can do this anonymously if required) – user generated content is powerful because it’s content that you didn’t create. It shows the perception that others have of you – which is what your brand IS after all. It’s far more compelling to say “Susan said this about… ” than to tell people something in your own opinion.
Use and encourage use of specific hashtags. This can work so well if done properly. Recently for Brand Makery we introduced the #BrandMakeryMarket hashtag for our market and it worked so well that people caught on to it and used it even though they hadn’t signed up to the market. The power of a hashtag is in it being searchable and traceable back to you. #Wearemint is a wonderful example of this if you’re a member of the club – and a great way to gather user generated content too!
So once you’ve looked through all of this you’ll find that connection goes beyond just you. It’s bigger than your business, connection has the power to increase your sales and improve your life – but you can also use it to do so much GOOD. Connection is really far more powerful than I think most people will realise, and even though this survey only involved a relatively small number of people the questions and possibilities that it opens up for you – for your brand – and for society – are HUGE.
This article was first published in the August edition of “The Explorer”. The newspaper that goes out to members of The Brand Success Club.
All stats in this article are from Sprout Social http://bit.ly/brandsgetreal unless stated. Other sources: Customer Thermometer: http://bit.ly/customerthermometer and Harvard Business Review: http://bit.ly/HBR-emotions