Social media marketing

How important is the presence of a brand on social networks for the customer experience?

How much automation is too much?

PHOTO: Adobe

Social media is a preferred channel for many consumers, as it is a place where they can feel free to express themselves, research a brand’s products and services informally, and even reach out to a brand. and its leaders. For brands, social media is a place where they can learn what their customers really think about their products and services, reach customers more personally, and even learn what customers think of their competitors. This article will examine the importance of a brand’s presence on social media for the customer experience.

Why social media?

Search by SmartInsights reported that in October 2021, 57.6% of the world’s population (4.55 billion people) used social media. The main social media are Facebook, with 2.8 billion users, YouTube, with 2.2 billion users, WhatsApp, with 2 billion users, Instagram, with 1.3 billion users, TikTok, with 732 million users, Pinterest, with 478 million users, and finally Twitter, with 397 million users.

A GlobalWebIndex report found that up to 50% of social media members use social media to research a brand’s products and services. More importantly, a Statista report showed that 33% of respondents in the United States said they had used social media to complain about a brand or its customer service.

Brand culture and social networks

According to Morgan Canfield, who manages social media accounts for ITUC, a provider of fintech, regtech and cybersecurity services, social media is the first place many consumers look to get a better understanding of how a brand positions itself and what exactly it offers. “While some may downplay the importance of social media for B2B marketing, people are still the decision makers in these companies. And it’s important that they have a seamless experience in every interaction with your brand, including social media. “said Canfield.

Conversely, social media offers brands the opportunity to build two-way relationships with their customers while continuing to build trust and loyalty. “Brands need to consider customer experience when developing their social media strategies, striving to show customers a complete view of the organization and what it does,” Canfield said. . “Many consumers want more than just information about products and services; they want to know about a brand’s values ​​and its involvement in the community, as well as non-commercial informational content. Social media offers a unique opportunity to provide this, and brands should make this information easily accessible with a steady cadence of posting, consistent messaging and responsive customer service.

The culture a brand espouses can take the form of useful or entertaining content for customers, often provided by the leaders themselves. “For CSI, improving the customer experience through social media involves sharing helpful content and thought leadership articles from industry publications,” Canfield said. “We also share photos of employees giving back to the community, which helps showcase our service culture to both customers and potential employees.”

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Leadership must also be social

Social media is a two-way channel that facilitates direct communication with customers, making it a key aspect of the customer experience, said Gerard LaFond, SVP, head of digital practice at LEWIS TEAM, a communications and public relations agency. Beyond that, when CEOs have a strong social media presence, companies rank higher in overall brand performance. “Despite this, the TEAM LEWIS 2021 Marketing Engagement Tracker (MET) of the Top 300 Global Brands found that CEOs are still largely absent from social media,” LaFond said. “Only 6% of Global 300 CEOs have social media accounts and actively post company-related information there. CEOs who engage on social media and have an active voice on current social issues are important for the recruitment and retention of their younger workers Recent work by TEAM LEWIS for the United Nations organization HeForShe has shown that 66% of Gen Z cohorts believe it is “extremely/very valuable” to the CEO to commit to a societal cause, and 47% of Gen Z follow CEOs on their social channels.

A brand’s social media presence has become one of its main points of contact with its customers. As such, it’s more vital than ever that customers have positive experiences when visiting a brand’s social media channels. “A TELUS International survey found that when a business interacts with its customers online (such as liking or commenting on their posts), it has a significant positive effect on their relationship, with more than half (53%) of US consumers saying it would make them more likely to buy from the company again,” said Jim Radzicki, chief technology officer at TELUS International. “Given that 44% of Americans surveyed said they have posted on a brand’s social media sites, investing in content moderation is an important part of any social media strategy.”

Contrary to popular belief, negative experiences have a greater impact on customer buying habits than positive experiences because customers tend to remember negative experiences longer. “A negative experience on a brand’s social media sites can seriously damage the customer-brand relationship,” Radzicki explained. “This is especially true when consumers are exposed to fake or harmful user-generated content (UGC). According to the aforementioned survey results, 40% of consumers will disengage from a brand after just one exposure to fake UGC and 45% will lose all trust in a brand For brands, the increased proliferation of toxic UGC since the start of the pandemic has created additional pressure to quickly deploy content moderation strategies that protect their customers.

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Social networks facilitate the community

Maria Pergolino, Marketing Director of ActiveCampaign, a customer experience automation platform provider, said a brand’s social media presence or social media advertising can be the initial point of contact customers have with the brand. . “Which means what you post on your social media can be the difference between connecting with your best customer or never meeting them at all. They will make instant judgment based on the design and content that will determine whether they’re looking further into what your business offers or if they just keep scrolling, which is why having a strong brand presence on social media is essential for the success of any business, regardless of size.

Pergolino said social media makes it easy to create a community of people who will rally behind a brand, whether for good or ill, which in itself is an incredibly useful mechanism. “Social media is a great place to cultivate and nurture such a community. Not only can you do this with fun and creative content on your main social media channels, but you can also create Facebook groups to engage more intimately with consumers and answer questions,” Pergolino said. “At ActiveCampaign, our Facebook community group is full of customers discussing the product with each other and with our team. It’s great to see all the creative ideas and feedback we get from them. Part of a good customer experience is being where your customers are and not forcing them into the silos created by your brand. »

Also, have no doubt that when customers aren’t happy with a brand’s products, services, or representatives, they’ll rally together to let everyone know on social media. As long as a brand has a customer support team that can respond to and resolve these issues, social media remains a positive connection to a soon-to-be-satisfied customer. “Another important reason for having a strong social media presence is the fact that you will never make everyone happy. Often, if consumers are unhappy with a product or service, they instantly come back on social media to complain, making it essential to have a dedicated support team to provide instant customer support, answer questions and provide the best possible experience.Not only does this help the unhappy consumer, but it shows others that you take customer feedback seriously and are ready to help when needed,” Pergolino said.

According to Michael Osborne, President of prodigy, a provider of one-to-one performance marketing engines, social media has become a place where consumers discover new products, and then it becomes the channel that leads them to purchase those products. “It’s important for brands to see how each touchpoint in a consumer’s shopping experience can drive revenue. By providing consumers with a personalized message through modern communication channels such as email, text and DMs that evokes an experience consistent with the retailer’s brand itself,” Osborne said. “The real trend today is to adapt to the consumer and their way of communicating with a brand, while always keeping their interests and needs in mind. Becoming a brand a consumer can rely on and trust is more than just having great products or active social channels. »

Final Thoughts

Social media has become the de facto channel where consumers are comfortable hanging out, sharing their thoughts and opinions, and now researching a brand’s products and services. By giving customers a place where they can interact with leadership while continuing to be themselves, brands are able to reinforce a positive culture while encouraging more social and relaxed conversations with their customers, which leads to a more positive emotional customer experience.