Five years from now, social media will look much different than it does today. If your company is still using its social channels as nothing more than digital bulletin boards for company news, you will be left behind. Remember: it’s not about you—it’s about your customers. That’s always been true, but it should become even more apparent with each passing day.
So what do your customers want from social media? Mostly, they want better content. They get enough boring company spin as it is. And there’s no shortage of more compelling ways for them to spend their time. If you want more customer engagement, produce better content.
That starts with brevity. Remember the old adage: less is more? Content has already been sliced into bits and pieces on channels like Twitter, and we are going to see even smaller bites ahead. We’ll see more bullet points—here’s the one thing, or here’s three things—and short, just-in-time pieces of information.
Your customers also want relevant content, and the rise of artificial intelligence will enable much more personalized contacts with them. You’re going to see AI take a much bigger role in understanding consumer wants and needs—things that they like, things that they don’t like. The algorithms inside social media today are so good that, if you don’t use them to understand your customer, you will have lost the game.
Why pay for social ads that target broad groups of people in hopes that they will connect with your brand when we have insights and analysis that allow much sharper focus? For example, if I know that you went to see a Denver Broncos game this season, I’m already marketing to you the championship hats that become available just minutes after the Broncos win the big game.
Which brings us to the third thing your social media followers want: timeliness. Customers, influencers and people who follow brands and products get more tech savvy each day. Imagine someone who eats at your fast food restaurant and reports on Twitter: “I just had the best experience. These guys really understand customer service.” People who love your product that much expect someone to not only be listening to them, but responding back. It has to be an actual human – not a bot – and it has to happen within about 90 seconds.
So let’s put all three together – brief, relevant and timely – and respond by thanking the poster for the positive comments and rewarding them with a discount on their next visit. If it was a negative comment, acknowledge that, offer to help solve any problems, and provide answers to any questions. In short, you are forming digital relationships with customers and building loyalty. Online mentions are opportunities to reinforce your brand – not only as a purveyor of quality goods or services, but as a responsive organization that’s able to focus on one customer at a time.
Social media should be just that – social. As more companies come alive to the opportunities presented by being able to communicate directly with their customers via these burgeoning channels, they need to consider what a good ‘social’ interaction looks like – what they would share with them or how they would talk to them if they were interacting in person, in real-time.
FullContact helps companies deliver amazing customer experiences by creating a 360 degree view of their customers based on their behaviors and activities across social networks. This is a great way to build extensive knowledge about who your customers really are but, as Luke Wyckoff, CEO & Founder of Social Media Energy, explains so clearly, great experiences in the social media realm can start with some simple, personal steps.
— Scott Axcell, Vice President Marketing, FullContact
Your focus on timeliness will help prepare you for another transformational social media trend – live programming. In five years, your Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter will be nothing but live feeds of things that are going on around you, and from anyone you are following. We’re already seeing this in Facebook Live and NFL games on Twitter. Soon, you’ll see people on virtual teams working together in ways that weren’t possible before.
These changes are coming, so you’ll need to adapt. But think of it more as an opportunity than a challenge. New tools will allow better customer connections than ever before. Just remember: social media was meant to be fun and entertaining. People tune out stodgy, stubborn companies that use it to pump out corporate spin. A lot of people point to companies that succeed and say, “I want a social media following like that.” Well, they tweeted a picture of their CEO in a Superman outfit last week. Is your CEO going to do that?
In summary, effective social media starts with great content—customer focused, entertaining, and responsive content. Stop being boring. Keep that content brief and relevant and get it out quickly. Your speed, accuracy, and genuine empathy for your customer will get you noticed, and help you build the loyalty and brand you’ve always wanted.