Are You Really Connecting With Your Customers?
Using social media to encourage purchases—especially the use of social ecommerce—is important, but without the initial customer relationship, your efforts may be overlooked.
Often, brands and retailers push out social content for the digital presence and to communicate bottom-funnel offers such as sales and promotions. Customers lose interest in and ignore companies that don’t find a way to dig deeper into the relationship besides making a sale.
You can use social media to build strong and loyal customer relationships during the beginning and post-purchase stages of the customer journey, which will in turn increase the success of bottom-funnel marketing and repeat purchases. Here’s how you can start using social media to its full potential across the full customer journey.
Talk to Your Customers
Rather than having a one-way conversation, start a dialogue with your customer. 80% of customers expect brand interaction over social and prefer it over in-store connection. This type of engagement on social media makes the customer feel important and shows you care about more than a sale.
- Like and comment on customer brand content. When a customer posts on social media and tags your brand, mentions you in the comments, or uses a brand hashtag, recognize those customers. Throw a tagline or a thank you in the comment section or even a simple like to show your appreciation.
- Reply to customers in your comment section. Customers often use comment sections as a way to show support or reach a customer service rep. Whether a customer is expressing their loyalty or bringing up an issue they’ve had, use this as an opportunity to open up a conversation. Other customers or potential customers will see this interaction, which will positively influence their impression of your business.
- DM customers about their experience with your brand. If your brand is using social ecommerce, this can be as simple as reaching out with a quick question to a few customers who purchased on Instagram. Recent customers may also comment on a post about their purchase, which allows you to reach out directly to them via their social media handles.
- Risky: Reply to unhappy customers in competitors’ comment sections. For bolder businesses, this could be just the trick. When using social listening, you may come across some unhappy customers of your competitors. If that competitor isn’t engaging with their customers, it could be a chance for you to try to win them over. This has to be done carefully—your product or service must guarantee satisfaction, and you can’t come across as if you’re putting down your competitor.
Those are just a few ways you can leverage social media to dig deeper than the purchase. Creating these positive interactions can result in customers who are:
- 78% more willing to buy
- 77% more likely to choose you over competitors
- 76% more likely to recommend you to others
Social Listening Skills
Another layer of engaging with your customers includes actually understanding them—how they interact, their social media habits, how they talk about your brand, and more. Social listening analyzes customer conversations happening online about you and the problems your products and services solve. This analysis can inform your social media customer engagement strategy, so you can create the most positive interactions.
Social listening also provides a more organic way to measure customer affinity than asking for customer feedback directly: “96% of unhappy customers won’t tell you directly but will tell 15 friends about their disappointment with you.” This provides opportunities to solve problems and fix customer service issues you may not have known were impeding your overall sales and marketing efforts.
Here are some valuable metrics your company may want to start measuring to inform your marketing strategies:
- Conversation volume. This is the total of how often you’re mentioned on social media.
- Engagement rate. This rate measures how often your consumers are connecting with you on social media by liking, commenting, or resharing your posts, etc.
- Sentiment. In this metric, positive vs. negative engagement and conversations are compared to measure the overall attitudes toward your company.
- Competitor mentions. This metric shows how often and why your competitors are being brought up in conversations online to help identify new areas of opportunity.
UGC Knows Best
User-generated content (UGC) is not a new concept, but brands and retailers are still not taking full advantage. UGC is content that comes from one of your consumers and can reach other consumers in a way that influencers and other marketing tactics can’t. Customers see UGC as an authentic representation of a company, because it shows the good, the bad, and the ugly. Today, consumers are 2.4 times more likely to view UGC as authentic compared to content created by brands. Best practices include:
- Request permission to use a customer’s content. This will ensure their privacy isn’t violated.
- Credit the creator wherever you use their content. Crediting your customers makes them feel important—as if they’re receiving something from your brand.
- Offer rewards for customers who send in or post UGC on social media. If you’re not receiving a ton of UGC, this can be a great way to encourage it while still receiving authentic content.
- Use UGC across your entire digital presence (like your website) rather than solely on social media. This continuity increases trust throughout all stages of the customer journey.
Using UGC is a cost-effective tactic that builds a sense of community, trust, and loyalty across your consumer base. If building customer trust and relationships isn’t convincing enough, UGC can also aid conversion during bottom-funnel marketing efforts and increase your brand’s bottom line: sales. When a consumer is in the final stages of their purchasing journey, they want to see real results and uses of your product. Having authentic reviews and content for your products and services could be the last little push your consumer needs to hit submit order.
There are seemingly endless ways a brand can connect with a consumer digitally these days, and social media will continue to be the hub of this communication. As new technology and updates arise, check back to Icon’s blog to stay up to date on the best digital practices that will inform all stages of your customer journey.
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Written by Emma Stidd
Emma is currently interning with Icon’s strategy department and is excited to gain a strong background to support her future endeavors. She’s a junior at the University of Cincinnati studying Marketing and Business Analytics with a minor in Film and Media Studies. Outside of work, she’s recently become an avid reader and an aspiring top chef.