Finding new ways to engage with prospects and customers is what drives us. But are you sacrificing loyalty for short-term lures?

Loyalty has long been the ultimate aspiration of marketers and customer experience managers. But it remains ever elusive—difficult to get and even harder to keep.

In fact, when Accenture conducted its Global Consumer Survey earlier this year, polling more than 5,800 consumers in 17 countries about their experiences with 10 industries, it found that only 20 percent of those consumers feel loyal to the retailers they do business with.

Some experts say that social media is a major culprit in keeping loyalty at arm’s length, suggesting that it has increased consumers’ brand promiscuity. Others say that it also has sidetracked some marketers, who have been overly focused on acquiring Facebook “likes” and responding to every tweet in Twitter, instead of using social media as the loyalty-building tool it can be. Loyalty is all about getting to customer acquisition and that’s a set of goals that will never change. What will change is how you get there.

In the rush to capture fans and followers, some marketers may be forgetting the secret sauce to creating loyalty:, Customer intelligence. If done right, the social component of customer intelligence offers a chance to reboot, rethink, and engage customers in a way that is truly meaningful. Tracking and analyzing stated customer preferences, observed behavior, goods purchased, and promotions that customers respond to is as important in social as it is in any channel. Integrating that information with data from other touch points will help organisations develop a winning formula for loyalty by having a deeper understanding of their customers and taking action based on that insight.

The underpinning of social loyalty

Driving loyalty via social requires treating different customers differently. This means having the ability to track and analyze customer data, understand who the top influencers are, and then leverage that knowledge to build loyalty. The biggest mistakes marketers make are to treat customers alike and to fail to conduct the research to learn what matters most to their customers. Figuring out what’s most important to customers is the underpinning requirement to figuring out who is loyal or not.

One way to do this in social is to not just gain “likes” but to understand what a brand’s most engaged customers actually like. This can be as simple as learning whether a company’s most engaged customers who use Facebook enjoy the content, promotions, and interaction it provides there, and then incorporating those findings into how the organisation delivers its overall customer experience.