Social media gives marketers the opportunity to converse with their clients in a one to one basis. Unfortunately, most brands don’t recognize that this is how social media should be used. According to Curtis Hougland, chief executive of Attention, a social media marketing agency, brands “remained self-centered.”
In fact, many brands still have control over when and how they want to communicate with their social media audience. In addition, everyone sees the same content from the company, and the content is just about what the company is about. Hougland says that social media becomes a “largely unsatisfying” relationship between the customers and the company.
Brands should identify the individual intents of their social media viewers
In fact, a consumer’s individual voice matters a lot in social media. In particular, brands should aim to know how what a consumer’s sentiment is towards their company, products or services at any given time. Exchanges between a consumer and the brand through social media are very important, especially when it comes to customer service. This is especially true when that particular customer is an influential one.
While all conversations in social media are significant, there are conversations that are more important than others. These are the ones that reflect that the consumer is ready to purchase a product or service. That type of conversation is important because at the end of the day, a social media campaign is deemed effective if it has a positive return on investment. Some conversations do not necessarily reflect that the customer is already willing to purchase; e.g. some are just making inquiries and doing some research on products or services they may buy.
Different consumers, different social experiences
Ideally, a consumer should have a social experience that depends on where he or she currently sits in terms of his intents of going into a brand’s social media channel. As mentioned previously, some consumers go to the social media page just to do research, some to browse through the products or services, and some are in fact, ready to purchase.
For example, when consumers are just starting to learn more about your company or the products and services you are trying to sell, you can help them become more at ease with your social media page first, by sharing important, interesting, creative and entertaining information to them. In fact, a funny cat image might even be helpful.
However, consumers who are ready to purchase are interested in other kinds of content, such as coupon giveaways. When your business can provide different individuals with social experiences that mean a lot to them, they become engaged at an emotional level.
Social is a behavior
Humans need to be able to socialize and share. These needs are not only seen in social media, but also manifest in emails and search engines, etc. In fact, according to Hougland, the social behavior is “interconnected across social, search and email, the holy trinity of purchasing decisions.”
Moreover, Hougland said that social media “included a promise – the promise of the user controlling the media.”
The consumer is in charge
There are several reasons to believe that the consumer is now in charge. First, consumers are now more and more lenient when it comes to knowing that they are being tracked by advertising companies for actions they do online. They know that their privacy is being compromised but as long as they receive value and usefulness in every engagement, that’s what matters.
This kind of social marketing is intent-based; a campaign for a product or service that aims at consumers who have shown purchase intent for that particular product or service through their behaviors. For example, when a particular individual looks up a pair of shoes, he or she may then see ads, special offers or promotions related to shoes. The ability to target customers through this form of social media marketing is provided at a more specific context, and is thus very effective.
Second, Hougland points out that “approximately 30% to 40% of intent-based conversations include geography.” This means that the intent-based marketing effort often leads to consumers wanting to have experiences near their locality. For example, when they find a product that is interesting online and they have the intent of purchasing it, they can be led to the nearest brick and mortar store selling that product.
Third, consumers don’t trust brands as much as they trust their friends, or even strangers. As such, brands must put emphasis not on compelling consumers to go to their channels. Rather, brands should find ways to reach their consumers wherever they may be.
When consumers use social media, they feel that they are the focal point of this online experience. If companies truly understand this, the number of misdirected social media efforts will be reduced significantly.