Social media can multi-task. It canImage increase your reach and influence, facilitate customer service, track leads and conversions, and even help build an invested following of loyal fans. And loyalty is the golden ticket in social media engagement. And when you are aligning your social media strategy to build reputation and protect against a crisis, three loyalty strategies stand out: building conversations, crowdsouring, and adding value.

Last week I wrote about how to develop conversations in social media that help build loyalty. This week, we’ll look at crowdsourcing as a loyalty strategy.  Wikipedia defines crowdsourcing  as “a process that involves outsourcing tasks to a distributed group of people.” The power of the people to solve problems.

People have questions. Have you got answers?  Are you present to answer them in a timely manner? Many companies have built loyal followings because they are dedicated to meeting needs and solving problems in real-time, and have enabled communities to help. Think Zappos, Southwest Airlines, and Best Buy. Or thinking smaller, look at what specialty companies like Create Space, Amazon’s self-publishing arm, have done. Their popular users forum is a good example of how to crowdsource your own customers to build loyalty. Forum users can offer solutions to other customer’s problems. If their answers solve the problem, they receive reward points towards products. The system creates a horde of invested forum users standing by in real-time to solve problems in exchange for rewards.

This model requires an empowered network that can answer questions and provide solutions in real-time. The network can be external, such as Create Space, or it can be internal. A good illustration of an empowered internal network is the recent Enterprise Rent-A-Car “Fix It” campaign.  The premise? If you ever have a problem with Enterprise, all their employees are empowered to fix it. They don’t need to find a manager or make a phone call, they will fix it on the spot.

Crowdsourcing can provide a power boost to the engagement level of your followers and fans.