Building customer loyalty through online customer appreciation is essential in nurturing long-time relationships. Connecting with your following both online and off will keep your brand top-of-mind when customers are looking for something specific.

Why would someone check off their grocery list at a chain store when your market provides better service and quality? And to top it off, they can communicate directly with you through your social channels! You can’t get any more personal than that. Your independent business will thrive once you see the value in addressing online comments and questions the same as you do so attentively in your store. We welcome you to follow this two part post in order to learn the best way to appreciate your customers online.

Tip #1: Leave no message behind

Welcome and answer all direct Facebook messages. There are some comments customers do not wish to address publicly so they flock to private messages as a way to connect directly with their favorite store. Whether it’s a question about size, stock, color or just a comment on their experience, be sure to address each message in a timely manner, signing off with your name to make it more personal. Be sure to set up an email notification when your business page receives a message. You can do so in Manage Notifications under your Edit Page settings.

Respond to any comments on your page. Whether it’s feedback or an inquiry, be sure to show your customer that you care about what they have to say. You can even tag and address them personally by adding the “@” symbol before their name.

Tip #2: Tweet when tweeted to

Thank your followers for sharing what you have to say with a simple reply. You can respond to multiple followers at once if the comment or question is general. You may even spark a conversation around your store on Twitter for potential customers to see.

You can participate in Follow Friday by tweeting a few followers at once while including the “ff” hashtag (#ff). It’s a great way to appreciate your customers and build trust with those who interact with you regularly.