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With virtually every brand setting up shop on social media platforms these days, customers have become immune to seeing “just more marketing” come at them through their screens. But this isn't to  say that social platforms don't have their place in omni-channel marketing. It simply means that maximising your online reach requires a little more than the odd tweet or like.  Online communities are an ideal medium for brands to provide customers with a common base to share experiences, discuss news and trends and also discover new value in their brands in the process. South African online kitchenware store – and community - Yuppiechef is a primary example of a business that hit the community management nail on the head, and as a result, has grown into one of the most loved brands in South Africa.

Yuppiechef stratifies its presence to cover all customer touch points  

Yuppiechef's customer-centric website is complemented by an online presence that covers all the major social platforms – as well as less popular ones - that maintain their familiar voice, style and tone loyal patrons have come to know and love. With almost 100 000 Facebook likes,  the propensity to draw new customers in or up-sell to current customers is massive in such a relatively niche market space. Founders Paul Galatsis, Andrew Smith and Shane Dryden think of their business as a customer service business that happens to sell kitchen tools  and it is this understanding of the value of presence in the mind of the consumer that makes the Best eCommerce Retailer for five consecutive years such a prime example of well-executed customer and loyalty management in the online sphere. With only one physical store at its headquarters, it is through smart community engineering that Yuppiechef products are finding homes in thousands of kitchens across the country.

Free offers don't get you the customers you want

One crucial aspect of a successful online presence is knowing how to engage with your intended audience. Yuppiechef took this lesson to heart by communicating to customers in a friendly, but not too familiar tone that draws audiences in with useful and relevant content around their purchases. But why stick to discussing cooking utensils alone when the kitchen has so many talking points? The site has since evolved to become the go-to place for home chefs to polish their culinary skills, foodies to discuss the latest trends, customers to discuss the best products and visitors to download free online magazines. These channels all serve to boost brand awareness and value perception in the mind of the customer. Yuppiechef's view on customer engagement is centred on providing audiences with truly useful information in lieu of flogging them with offers for free items. This underscores the company's commitment to building a community based on a real understanding of who the people are that are buying their products.

Read our blog on going back to the basics for customer onboarding

What lessons in customer loyalty management can we take from Yuppiechef?

I guess the chief take-away from the Yuppiechef experience is that you get the customers you deserve.  And there are few excuses for any business to remain inert in a time when marketing your products – and announcing your brand to the world – is more do-able than ever. As Galatis, Marketing Director for Yuppiechef aptly states, “In today’s connected world the market is a community. Being trusted and favoured by, and engaged with this community is as important as it was in 19th century physical market places where everyone knew everyone.” And while some companies still struggle to find their place in the new digital realm and others simply fade into background noise, the opportunities to initiate, nurture, maintain and build customer relationships that eventually mature into a loyal brand community are there for the taking.

Image credit:http://www.yuppiechef.com/