Strengthening brand loyalty is something businesses have been struggling with for years. It can be difficult to accomplish for those operating in a struggling economy where consumers are constantly chasing the array of promotions, sales, and coupons sellers put on the table. Fortunately for brands, social media appears to be changing the landscape for the better.

According to research, roughly half of Facebook and Twitter users are more likely to discuss, recommend, or purchase a company’s products after following them on one of the aforementioned social networks.

The emergence of social media has been a dream come true for brands and the people they exist to service. This channel is helping increase loyalty by:

Making brands more transparent and approachable. By creating a Facebook page or Twitter account, you instantly let your audience know that you are ready and willing to connect with them on a more personal level. This type of transparency helps grow existing relationships, which is key in building loyalty.

Providing convenient access to relevant and valuable content. Content is king no matter what area you specialize in, and social media gives you another viable channel to funnel it through. Whether it’s photos, videos, or just solid updates, good content makes sites like Facebook and Twitter go round. Feed ‘em the good stuff, and their loyalty becomes much easier to gain.

Promoting easy sharing. One thing to really admire about social media is that it gives everyone easy sharing capabilities. People love to share the things they find interesting, and this includes the products and services they find across the web. The more fans you get to share and make recommendations, the better you are doing in the brand loyalty department.

Social media continues to prove that it is great for enhancing loyalty, but how do you go about measuring that loyalty? It can be difficult when those interactions are not resulting in easy measurable actions such as clicks, visits, and sales. Fortunately, it is possible to measure brand loyalty in the social channel, and measure it effectively at that.

Roll Out the Analytics

No web analytics software will directly allow you to measure something as abstract and intangible as brand loyalty. However, you shouldn’t let that fact get in the way. Equipped with a simple tracking system like Facebook Insights, you can analyze key metrics such as reach, user engagement, discussions, and virality. Each of these metrics can help you determine where you stand with your followers in the loyalty department.

Watch Engagement Levels

Engagement is so powerful that it cannot be contained in analytical reports. Equipped with nothing but a watchful eye, you can tell who your most engaged fans are by simply observing how they interact with your posts. Here, it’s all about getting a better idea of the impact your content is making with your audience. This may not outright reveal your most loyal followers, but it will help you understand who you should be giving the most attention to.

Look for the Evangelists

More brands are learning that thanks to social media, they don’t have to do all the marketing on their own — they can get fans to help. This channel makes it incredibly easy for the everyday Joes and Janes to endorse the businesses, items, and content they support. Your social evangelists are out there, but how do you find them? Simple. Pay attention.

Whether it is through a Facebook update or a tweet from their Twitter account, people are demonstrating their loyalty to various brands on a regular basis. Give special attention to the content that is being liked, shared, and retweeted as it could put you on a straight path to your most loyal advocates.

Monitor Fan Retention

Are your fans in the social space sticking around, or do you sometimes find yourself losing them at an alarming rate? Retention may not be the holy grail to measuring brand loyalty, but monitoring it can be helpful in the grand scheme of things. Every fan you pick up is an additional member of your audience, and your ability to keep them around says a lot. The longer they stay onboard, the more they will be exposed to your message, which gives you more opportunities to build trust, relationships, and loyalty.

There are no hard and fast rules for measuring brand loyalty. It’s all subjective. What is deemed to be an act of loyalty will differ from one brand to the next. On that note, how are you measuring the loyalty of your social followers?

Author Bio: Chiko Noguchi is a best practices activist and advocate for a leading provider of email marketing services.