There once was a time, long, long ago in the distant past of social media – last year - when brands used social media to spread their message: Post, analyse likes and shares, and post again.
Their target audience read their post, and if they felt connected, they’d leave a comment, not expecting, nor receiving a response.
Fast-track to the present, and consumer expectations have changed due to new social tools and platforms, the overwhelming stream of consumable data being offered up, and the consumers’ evolving consumption habits.
Consumption has evolved and the consumer is now not solely relying on social media as an information channel, but a forum to engage back to the brand.
As a result, social media marketing must mature and evolve with it.
We are seeing some major shifts in many organisations, realising that a customer-centric mentality across every touch point is becoming the standard. Unfortunately, in many other organisations, we’re not seeing that realisation.
Many brands still use social media to ‘talk’ to their customers, but don’t ‘engage’ them by listening to what they have to say. This represents a monstrous missed opportunity for the majority of brands as social media is the perfect platform for a two-way conversation.
I remember back in 2013 when I was working with a US Business Intelligence company, and we were using really powerful listening tools (Radian6 and Visible Technologies) to disseminate target audience digital intelligence. We then analysed this trove of digital and social conversation and used it to build actionable insights for marketing teams to ‘talk’ to their audience in the language that that they themselves were talking.
Listening should be two-way; a conversation. Using the big platforms uncovers an audience generated conversation: audience talks, marketer listens, analyses, and responds in the audience language. That’s high level strategic engagement.
These days, racing up the exponential curve of marketing technology, the everyday marketer doesn’t necessarily need the big powerful listening platforms to converse with their audience. They have instant access to social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snap, Google+, plus Groups and Forums, and probably a few more in the next year or two.
The differentiator is that the conversation really now is a conversation.
Brand talks, audience reacts, brand responds. Whether it’s in response to a potential customer reaching out with a question, a brand loyalist giving you a positive shout-out or an upset customer screaming from the rooftops about a bad experience, it needs a response. Now!
Social media engagement can no longer be reactive, it must be proactive. Brands must be at attention at all times. If someone engages with your brand they want to be heard and it’s the brands’ responsibility to make that person’s voice heard.
Social is personal, and the customers’ experience must be personalised. A brand can do that by engaging prospects, customers, influencers, and even competitors in conversation; positive conversation. At any point, a customer can become a competitor, or an influencer, or… so a brand needs to build trust and a relationship with their engaged audience, individually and personally where possible.
Engage, engage, engage! Engaging across every channel is hard and time consuming. Fortunately for today’s marketer there are tools and technologies to do the heavy lifting.
It takes tools and it takes teams for brands to listen and respond to their customers in a meaningful engaging and insightful way.
Long ago, before the advent of social media, marketers had limitations. Traditional advertising was traditionally paid advertising. Now social marketers can reach their target audience without those limitations. Whilst more complex, marketers have the option of paid, earned, owned and shared content.
The goal of the modern marketer is to serve current customers, acquire new customers and, to turn them all into a more loyal customer base. Social plays an integral and crucial role in nurturing this audience. Those that unlock the key, will grow and win.
Of course, its rudiment to think that the combination of listening and engagement alone is enough to win your customers. Everything is interconnected. The brands that understand the synchronous importance of people, processes and technology within their organisation, are the brands that will most successfully meet the expectations along the customer journey.
The marketing masterminds behind your customer journey need to know the stages and processes to connect and engage, so they can communicate this journey, analyse and come back around to the start, re-establish and re-target. It’s new, it’s developing, it’s continuum.
It’s no longer reactive, it’s now proactive.
Need help? Contact Rogan Carroll at www.typiphy.com
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Typiphy Digital Marketing are small business specialists and digital marketing experts based in Sydney. www.TypiphyDigitalMarketing.com