Social media is crowded. With six billion users combined on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter, brands are not only competing with each other, but with their target audience’s family and friends. It might sound strange, but think of the many photos of your niece’s first steps or best friend’s engagement crowding your timeline. How do brands develop content that stands out among the tremendous amount of traffic on social media? How can your brand stand out?

The answer lies in fostering a sense of brand loyalty among current and potential followers. The ultimate goal of social media is to ensure users aren’t simply auto-scrolling over a brand’s content on their feeds. It’s important for brands to develop a sense of excitement and to be actively seeking out engagement. Social media is a powerful tool that, when used correctly, has the ability to increase brand loyalty by turning everyday consumers into strong brand advocates. How do beverage manufacturers spark that sense of loyalty through social media?

Be Authentic, Build a Connection

Authenticity is a key differentiator for all levels of social media. Consumers can sense when a brand is either too polished or completely unrelatable. Life isn’t perfect, and consumers want a brand that shares a humble, honest message — while also understanding its core audience’s needs. 

According to a recent article by Salesforce, 66% of consumers say they’re, “likely to switch brands if they feel treated like a number, not an individual.” Think about the current photos sitting on any brand’s timeline and/or grid. Do they look they were taken in someone’s naturally lit kitchen, a popular restaurant, warm beach, hip bar or under the harsh lighting of a photo studio? Can the user truly relate to the message that brand is trying to convey? Can they see themselves purchasing and consuming that product at a comparable setting? 

Create a Sense of Community

Now more than ever, consumers tend to seek out communities on social media. With so many users on “the big four” social media networks, participation in niche platforms such as Nextdoor and Reddit continues to grow at a very high rate, and we expect that to increase even more in the next few years. These platforms are built for sub-communities and allow users to connect on a deeper level due to their vast network of commonalities for users to follow — think on a scoped level: same neighborhood, same favorite TV show, etc. 

For brands, creating this sense of community has the potential to build loyalty within the big four, and those emerging niche platforms. For example, brands can utilize Facebook Groups to gather real feedback from loyal customers, or provide an exclusive introduction about upcoming product launches. Nextdoor is the perfect place to create social content relevant to different locations. Brands should always be testing their messaging tactics in real time, among all of these platforms. 

Rely on Recommendations

There’s no discussing brand loyalty without influencer, advocate and peer-to-peer recommendations. Peer-to-peer recommendations have long been a strong driver of brand loyalty. Wharton School of Business found that referred customers are 16-24% more loyal, and that’s why today’s social media influencer marketing campaigns work so well. Influencers are essentially a more relatable, third-party advocate with a loyal, engaged following. While they are trusted peers at scale, that scale doesn’t mean that your influencer partners have to boast millions of followers to be 
effective. According to AdWeek, micro-influencers deliver approximately 60% more engagement because they’re more personally invested in their area of expertise. The other bonuses for brands? Micro-influencers are often more affordable. Of course, not all brands can afford the “self-made billionaire” social media stars.

Whether or not your brand or product has collected rave reviews, social media can be strategically deployed to increase recommendation volume by “story instigating.” Brands can create a safe, trusted place for users to share reviews (think of your community above), and reward loyal users who share often by posting their content — and stories — on the brand’s channels. Average social media users get a kick out of being featured on their favorite brand’s social media posts. Additionally, carefully selected, message-aligned influencers can be used for a complete social media takeover of a brand’s channels. In most cases, an influencer takeover allows the audience to see real-life examples of the best times to enjoy, serve or experience the product’s authenticity. 

Make Information Easy to Find

Finally, brand loyalty in the beverage industry is easy to gain and keep when consumers can easily find answers to questions about the product. Create community management guidelines to quickly answer frequently asked questions on social media. Consider aligning social media campaigns with other marketing campaigns, too. One major trend we’ve seen as of late is growing brand integration with voice marketing — such as Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant. 

Voice marketing is an experience, just like social media, where users can quickly and easily ask questions. Adding voice marketing as a congruent strategy helps to ensure the brand is prepared to address all questions in multiple social platforms. Maintaining transparency is one of the best ways to guarantee current and future customers avoid frustration and stay connected and loyal to a brand’s offering. 

Headquartered in Portland, Oregon, Sparkloft Media has specialized in social media from its inception, leading insight-driven and human-centric conversations and content for clients around the world. The company supports its clients with social media strategy, content marketing, community management, trend reporting, social media co-ops, training and education, social commerce, integrated campaigns and influencer programs. For more information, visit