Tag Archives: brand loyalty

Instagram – An Easy Tool for Building Brand Loyalty

Instagram_Icon_LargePoor Instagram; very few brands harness your power to build brand loyalty. Or should I say poor brands! Many of you are missing out! If your brand can produce plenty of visual content, which most can, using Instagram is an incredibly easy way to get it in front of your audience in order to build brand loyalty.

Sharing visual content is a great way to build brand loyalty for two main reasons:

“A picture’s worth a thousand words” – This phrase still rings true today; more than ever I’d say. Visuals can convey more to people than most text which makes this sort of content valuable and worth seeking out.

Pictures get more interaction – People interact with pictures far more than any other type of content on social media sites. They’re more willing to comment on and share pictures and other imagery than text content only. Visuals are just more fun and provide more talking points.

Essentially, because of the popularity of visual content these days, if a brand can post this sort of media on a consistent basis, its audience will continue to come back for more. As they come back for more, they begin to recognize the vast number of like-minded brand supporters that they’re a part of. As they recognize this, they become comfortable with the idea of commenting on the brands content and interacting with other brand followers. This interaction fosters a deepened support and love for the brand.

This like-minded, mutually supportive group is called a “brand community.” The brand community is where much of a brands strength and equity comes from. Just think of Apple Computers and their loyal community. Apple wouldn’t be what it is today without its loyal brand community.

Now back to Instagram. Why am I specifically pushing Instagram as a means to influence brand loyalty? Because not only is it the fastest growing social media site today but because it’s all about visual content, nothing more. Unlike Facebook or Twitter, Instagram only allows image posts with captions. There are no text-only posts.

Thus, the increasing throng of Instagram visitors, whether on their phones or online, are purposefully seeking visual content. They want to seek you out and see what you can show them. They want content they can comment on and share with friends.

So, how do you use Instagram to build brand loyalty? Five fundamental tactics are below.

Post pictures that show your brands human side – I know I’ve said this a lot but, the more human you can be, the more relatable your brand will be. People relate best to humans rather than logos and packaging alone.

Post pictures of employees at internal office events or of consumer’s and employees at tradeshows, conferences or promotional events.

Post pictures of your product or service – Show your community ways your product or service can be used. Essentially, you can inspire them to interact with your brand in ways they may not have realized, endearing them to your brand further.

Ask your community members to post pictures of your brand – It’s extremely common for people to define themselves based on the brands they buy (picture Apple customers again). You audience will indeed be willing to post pictures of themselves using your product or service because it means something to them personally.

Ask community members to tag their branded photos with your hashtag (# + whatever your brands Instagram screen name is).

Advertise additional content – Post the image you used on your other content to increase traffic to it. Almost all your content such as blog posts, white papers, case studies, etc. should have imagery associated with it. You have ready-made Instagram posts awaiting you.

Participate in Instagram weekly events – Every Thursday is #throwbackthursday and every Friday is #flashbackfriday. Use these events to post images from quality content from the past such as blog posts or white papers that could be helpful today.

Not every post needs to have a heavy marketing angle though. Maybe use these weekly posting events just for fun. If you’re an Ethernet cable company for example I can see you posting a picture of some telephone lines with a caption that reads, “Remember dial-up? Medieval huh? How long ago did you make the switch?”

So you can get an idea of the type of content that works on Instagram, here are a few brands that use Instagram extremely well. Fire up the Instagram app or website and type in the words in quotes to find them.

starbucks” (Starbucks brand coffee shops)

nhlbruins” (Boston Bruins hockey team)

puma” (Puma brand athletic shoes)

sharpie” (Sharpie brand permanent markers)

We’re all trying to build a loyal following for our company’s. Loyalty requires giving our audience members what they want. And these days, it takes more than just a quality product or service. They want visual content that’s sharable. Instagram is a great way to give them what they want.



Posted by on October 7, 2013 in New Media


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Facebook or Twitter for Building Brand Equity – Which Should I Use?

Twitter and Facebook logos

Every brand is valued in 2 ways: 1) by the tangible brand value it holds in the form of revenue (Coke Classic revenue vs. Diet Coke revenue vs. Coke Zero revenue etc.) and 2) the intangible brand value it holds in the mind of the consumer, also known as brand equity.  A brands equity depends on 2 things: 1) how aware the consumer is of the brand and 2) how positive the consumer is about what they know about the brand as perceived by its image.  The consumer’s level of awareness of the brand is evident by 1) how well the brand is recognized by the consumer and 2) how well the brand is recalled when the consumer needs what it does.   A consumer’s perception about the brands image is reflected in 1) the attitude they hold toward the brand and 2) how well the consumer perceives the brand to fulfill the purpose it intends to fulfill plus any other perceptions that can be scaled positive or negative.  These metrics indicate a brands equity can be high, low or anywhere in between.  It depends on the consumer.

A brands level of equity is what drives purchase, repurchase, brand loyalty etc.  A brand with high equity will have a high number of purchases, repurchases, loyalty etc.  Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are what help drive much of a brands equity these days in what marketers call “many to many” marketing.  Many people talking about brands to their many friends through social media.  The infographic below shows how Facebook and Twitter stack up against each other, which is helpful in deciphering how each can be used to build brand equity.

Branding and Social Media Statistics – How People Are Interacting With Brands Online
Source: AYTM Market Research

Based on the infographic, Facebook is the better platform for building a brands equity.  Seventy-four percent of Facebook’s 845 million active users use the site daily where only 35% of Twitter’s 100 million active users do.  Fifty-eight percent of Facebook’s users have “liked” a brand where only 29% of Twitter users are “following” a brand (for those who don’t know, “liking” and “following” are synonymous).  And though Facebook and Twitter are close in their number of users who mention brands in their posts (42% of Facebook users and 39% of Twitter users respectively), Facebook users are more likely to share someone else’s post about a brand than Twitter users are (41% vs. 29% respectively).

How does all this relate to building brand equity?  Facebook has more users who use the site more often, are posting more messages about the brands they like and recirculating messages about the brands their friends like more often.  Because of this, Facebook users are exposed more often to a brands messages, logos, positive press, customer success stories, promotions, discounts, events and of course what one’s friends feel about the brand which all influence the consumers knowledge of and perception of the brand.  This frequency and depth of brand engagement compounded with the persuasiveness of one’s social contacts is what creates brand recognition, stimulates brand recall, promotes a positive brand attitude and a positive perception of how the brand is fulfilling on its promises.

As a side note, according to the infographic, the majority of posts about brands on both Facebook and Twitter are positive rather than negative and positive information spread by friends is remembered better than negative information.  The sheer number of users Facebook has and their level of activity on the site mean that those positive posts cover more ground, making Facebook an essential tool for building brand equity.

If your company doesn’t have a Facebook account, consider getting one.

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Posted by on February 20, 2012 in New Media


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Which is an App and Which is a Widget?

Which does what?  Confused about the difference between a widget and an app?  Let’s break them down and discuss how they can benefit marketers.


A widget is a piece of downloadable software that can be used on a browser, desktop, social networking page, home page or mobile phone.  Widgets can as well be a bit of embeddable code that can be integrated into ones website at will.  The widget is a stand-alone application that engages the user and acts as a portal to content on a particular branded website.  A widget is not only meant to act as a utility that serves a purpose for the user that downloads or embeds it, but as an advertisement also.

One example of an effective widget is the DING! widget offered by Southwest Airlines.  Once downloaded the widget can be customized to notify the user when low fares to their common destinations are available through Southwest, eliminating the need to go to Southwest’s website and perform a search – the utility.  The commonly recognizable tail fin of the Southwest airliner sits in the user’s taskbar and the DING! sound it makes constantly reminds the user of Southwest – the advertisement.  When the user wants to book one of the low fare flights found through the DING! widget, the user is taken to the Southwest Airlines website.

Widgets can be incredibly beneficial for marketers because they are cheap to distribute; can have a high return on investment (ROI); can help acquire new customers; can help increase brand loyalty; are able to cut through ad clutter and can track user behavior and preferences.

Distribution of a widget can be cheap because of word-of mouth and social sharing.  The widget only needs to be made available for download in a few locations and word-of-mouth and social sharing will normally direct people to where the widget can be acquired.  Word-of-mouth and social sharing will also direct people to where the widget embed code can be found.  This virulence allows the marketer to save money by not having to place the widget in as many locations as would be required if placing a traditional banner or space ad online.  And because some widgets remain useful for a long while (think DING!), they keep advertising for as long as the user has it installed.

It is this social distribution of widgets that at times will make them so profitable for brands.  One study showed that the ROI from widgets will increase almost proportionately with the rate at which it spreads.  This sort of return depends on how shareable the widget is.  Ones that are made to be downloaded and used daily such as a weather widget or a stock quote widget are typically not as sharable because they aren’t as novel or interesting.

A widget can facilitate new customer acquisition by providing a medium for a first encounter.  If the widget is useful enough, even non customers may download it and the more they use it the more they are influenced by the brands message found on it which will increase the chance they will click through to the brands website and make a purchase.

Widgets can increase or create brand loyalty by giving the consumer another way to interact with and experience the brand.  The usefulness of the widget may have the consumer using it often and its usefulness will endear the consumer to the brand even further.  The DING! widget saves so much time and money, what would loyal Southwest customers do without it?  Can you imagine if Southwest got rid of it?

Widgets can cut through the ad clutter found online these days because of their semi to full permanence.  As was mentioned, some widgets will run their course quickly and be discarded such as games and entertainment widgets, but some will remain useful (again, think DING!).  Either way, if the widget is made correctly they will not only serve a purpose but be branded as well, conveying the brands message longer than a fleeting banner ad or space ad seen (or unseen) on the many websites surfed by the user.  In other words, the widget increases the frequency of exposure to the brand message without competition.

Lastly, widgets are useful to marketers because every download, every click through and every subsequent page viewed through the widget can be tracked.  This information can be used by marketers in numerous ways.


An app is a piece of downloadable software (not embeddable at will by website owners) that is used in 2 ways only; on a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet or online by means of a browser such as Google Chrome.  The term “app” is short for “application” and “application” is short for “software application.”

An app is different from a widget in that an app has more interactive features and at times can function as a full website contained in a small package with streamlined features.  Some apps include e-commerce and customer service capabilities as well.  A widget usually revolves around a single interactive function (think DING! again) and is meant to lead the user to a separate branded website where they will interact with the brand.  As a result widgets don’t usually include e-commerce or customer service capabilities.  An app, like a widget is not only a utility that serves a purpose for the user that downloads it, but is an advertisement also.

There are some similarities and differences in how apps and widgets can benefit marketers.  Because each have different strengths, both an app and a widget may be useful in a marketing plan.

Apps are similar to widgets in that they too are cheap to distribute.  Apps, like widgets are distributed from a limited number of locations (app stores) thus the marketer doesn’t have to pay for ad space as they would with a traditional space ad and because of word-of-mouth and social sharing about the apps, friends and family are willing seek them out and download them with little prodding.

Apps can also have a high ROI.  A mobile app made to run on iPhone, Android and BlackBerry will run about $90,000 and reach around 600 users per dollar spent which equals around 54 million people.

Apps, like widgets can also help acquire new customers for the same reasons a widget can.  If the app is useful enough, even a non-customer may find it worthy of downloading and their use of the app may influence them to buy the brands products.  The customer acquisition process can be quickened by incorporating an e-commerce function into the app which makes the app even more useful.

Apps can cut through ad clutter just as well as widgets or better.  Apps are usually even more permanent than widgets and like a widget, hold the consumers attention captive while in use.  The permanence of the app increases the frequency of exposure to the brand message without competition, just like a widget.

Just like widgets, apps can increase or create brand loyalty.  Once again, the usefulness of the app may have the consumer using it often and its usefulness will endear the consumer to the brand even further.  What’s more useful than a simplified version of your favorite website complete with e-commerce in the palm of your hand?  Or a simplified version of a service you use now in the palm of your hand (think of the DirecTV app where you can tap into your DirecTV subscription and watch TV in the palm of your hand and control your TV remotely.)

E-commerce was mentioned as one thing that an app can provide that a widget can’t.  On a similar note, the app provides an additional revenue stream as the consumer is used to paying for many of the apps available to them.  The way widgets are distributed (outside of an “App Store” or “Market”) and because the consumer isn’t used to paying for them, it wouldn’t be feasible to charge for a widget.  Thus, widgets are still typically free and not a viable revenue stream.  The marketer relies on using the widget as an advertisement hoping they will lead to click through’s and conversions.

Another way that apps are different than widgets is that apps tend to carry an integrated social function.  Many app makers incorporate a way to share a high score on Facebook or Twitter or a way to collaborate with those in your social circles.  Nike’s Nike + GPS app for example, allows you to share how far you have run with friends who can check up on your activity through Facebook while you run.  Friends can show their support by “Liking” your running status which produces an audible cheer in the headphones of the runner.

The last thing that is different between widgets and apps is that some apps can’t track user behaviors and preferences.  Only if the user allows the app to collect such data will the brand learn anything from them and this is only when the app is built with this capability.  Many apps such as branded games and entertainment are just that, games and entertainment, not a portal through which the user can eventually chose to click and go purchase something from the sponsoring brand.  These sorts of apps act more like widgets in that they hope the user connects with the brands message and seek their product out through their webpage or store.

Overall, widgets are not apps and vice versa as you can see here.  They do share many of the same benefits but their differences make them useful for different purposes.

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Posted by on February 1, 2012 in New Media


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