So you’ve built your strategy and laid out your expectations for your brand’s social media presence. You’ve read and studied about the intricacies of how to win in social media, but you’re still a little foggy as to how you’ll be able to really succeed in this new and challenging endeavor. You recite the same sentence over and over in your meetings; “if you don’t ask, the answer is always no.” You realize that in order to win, you first have to play. It’s a risky wager, but quite possibly a very rewarding one; especially if you know how to interact and communicate with your online community to effectively represent your brand.
Recent studies have taken a whole new look at customer feedback and what your community is most likely to desire from their interactions with you and your brand via social media. Social media and digital marketers consistently find themselves in situations where they have to defend the value and opportunities that social media provides. Thankfully, these reports have gathered and presented the information necessary to be able to provide those of us in the industry – or those looking to establish themselves within the social media sphere of operations – the hard facts and supporting numbers to help us succeed in this battle against the naysayers!
1) It’s called Social Media for a reason.
It always blows me away when brands and community managers wonder why they haven’t seen the results that they want from social media, but they don’t make the effort to really interact with their community on multiple channels. According to a study conducted by Hubspot, online consumers and social media users expect their favorite brands to be actively participating with their communities on at least three different social networks. So wait, you mean to tell me that people actually want to communicate with us on more than just Facebook and Twitter? Yes, and not only that, but they want you to be actively engaging them! Don’t sit back and wait for everyone to come to you. Reach out and put your arm around your audience’s shoulder and talk to them. Stop agoraphobic behaviors and start communicating with your community!
In addition to Facebook and Twitter (the top vote getters for social networks in this category), consumers listed Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Google+ as the next five most-desired places for brands to have a social presence.
2)We’re here to listen and help, not just post memes.
Many new ventures in to social media lack the content plan that is necessary to succeed and meet company expectations. If you think sharing memes and posting photos of office antics will give you a mark in the win column, then you’d better reevaluate your plans and goals for social media. A large part of managing communities is listening to and working to resolve issues that are brought forth and voiced by you community members. Going back to the whole idea of being social in social media; people will expect your brand to provide added value by utilizing social media to manage customer service and relationships. An excellent study, recently released by Parature, provided solid insight and figures into how communities expect to interact with and receive customer service via social media. Here’s a few highlights from their findings:
- 35% of consumers have sought out customer service help through social media.
- 35% have used social media to complain about a brand or its customer service.
- 52% have used social media to praise or compliment a brand or its customer service.
- 59% said that the brand responded to their interaction and that by doing so, 51% of those said that the acknowledgement and interaction with the brand provided them either a somewhat more or much more favorable opinion of the company.
It’s easy to see the positive correlation in the figures above, but does the amount of time needed to respond impact a community’s view of a brand’s level of service? You bet it does. The same survey and study found the following to be true of users seeking out customer service help via social media:
- 38% of customers expect a response within one hour of posting their feedback. That 38% is further broken down like so: 8% within five minutes, 16% in less than 30 minutes, and 14% in less than an hour.
- 29% expect a response within 24 hours of their initial contact.
- 8% expect their feedback to be addressed within 48 hours.
- 24% don’t expect a response at all.
The most glaring figure, of those listed above, should be the last one listed. 24% of users do not expect their voice to be heard or acknowledged by the brand that they are trying to communicate with. Not only is that figure entirely too high, but it’s an easy one to improve upon. The power and importance of social customer service and social CRMs will only increase over time as the spread of digital services only continues to grow day by day.
3) Hey man, can you do be a favor? Umm, no.
We’ve all had someone like this in our lives. The friend that you’ve known for years and you get along with just fine, but they seem to always be asking for favors. It’s not that they’re difficult or make you feel as though you don’t want to be friends with them anymore, but it’s the constant asking without the possibility of returning the favor that bugs you. Whatever form it’s taken in your life, you know who we’re talking about, and as a word of caution and advice: don’t be that person with your brand on social media. Social media is a place where people go to interact with friends, talk about their lives with others and find entertainment in the forms of funny photos or amazing videos. The quickest way to get a bad reputation and lose members of your community is to go sales-heavy with your content. Constantly pitching products and services, bragging about your own achievements, and neglecting your community are sure-fire ways to fail at social media and alienate your consumers. People don’t use social media to buy products. That’s why search engines like Google and Bing have spent so much time and development on making it easier to find what you want when you want it.
The best way to establish and integrate a sales strategy through social media is to utilize the total social experience to engage your target customers. By providing value and useful knowledge to your community, you’re able to increase the position and power of your brand through a more natural and organic interaction. A 2014 Gallup study revealed that 35% of consumers stated that their interactions within social media had an influence on their purchasing decisions. This figure may not seem that impressive, but take into account the vast amount of personal opinion and feedback that is available to consumers via social media in the form of reviews and complaints, then it’s rather difficult to deny the far-reaching power a brand’s reputation can have over a consumer’s decision making process. Whether directly or indirectly, it’s safe to say that social media can make or break a sale for many companies and brands.
The most important things to take away from this, are that you manage your brand well on social media by being social and engaging, listening to and servicing your communities, and by being patient and strategic with your sales tactics. If you can do these well, then you’re on the right track to succeeding with social media.