Many businesses are afraid to engage appropriately on social media, for fear of sounding unprofessional, making a public mistake, or worse yet, going against the bible, aka. your brand guidelines. (The horror!)
While some of the best corporate Twitter accounts are filled with quippy, sarcastic comebacks (hello, Burger King & Wendy’s,) there are plenty of other ways to engage on social media that don’t involve sass but take a helpful, service-based approach. In light of the current COVID-19 crisis — and also the fact that every brand and its mother just wants to be Wendy’s now — brands should take note.
You’re probably reading this because you already know social media marketing is one of the most versatile and cost-effective methods of marketing, which small businesses can use to reach their target audience and boost sales over time.
If your boss is stuck in the dark ages, we’ve got a few convincing points to bring them into the light.
Connect with your customers on a human level
We’ve said it before, but people like to feel connected. The business impact of investing in an emotional connection with your customers is significant. A study run by HBR showed “fully-connected” customers accounted for 37% of revenue and spent, on average, twice as much annually ($400) as “satisfied customers.”
After 50 years in business, Starbucks has amassed an almost cult following. The brand is a pioneer of turning coffee shops into social environments, always putting an emphasis on the human connections formed in its stores. Its social media accounts reflect this emphasis by not only directly responding to customer complaints and suggestions but also engaging in light-hearted banter on Twitter.
On Instagram, Starbucks posts a mix of branded content, and user-generated content (UGC) shared by its customers using the hashtag #MyStarbucks. This is a win-win situation because consumers love seeing their snaps shared by their favorite brands, and for businesses – it’s free content! The result is a well-rounded brand experience, where customers receive the same sunny treatment both in-store and online.
It helps customers make buying decisions
But, social can be used beyond responding to customer complaints or posting sassy comments or replies in an attempt to go viral. You can actually help customers make buying decisions by encouraging them to bring their consumer conundrums to the internet!
Popular eyewear brand, Warby Parker, has mastered the art of accelerating the buying process by encouraging its customers to post their top eyewear selections online using the hashtag #HomeTryOn on Twitter. The brand’s experts assist them in choosing the pair that suits them best.
This is not only an incredibly personalized experience but done over social media, it’s in plain sight for all to see. Imagine the impact on brand awareness and loyalty this has, with Warby Parker’s 86k followers on Twitter exposed to these exchanges daily.
It encourages referrals and word of mouth marketing
Picking up on the point above, a satisfied customer that trusts a brand completely wants to spread the word. Word of mouth marketing remains one of the most powerful marketing tactics out there. But, word of mouth marketing doesn’t just occur offline. 75% of people will likely post something positive about your brand if you make meaningful social media connections.
And while it might seem harder to control and analyze, word spreads fast, especially on social media. If you play your cards right, you’re likely to see a huge uptick in brand awareness without having to drop a single penny!
Be a part of ongoing conversations in real-time
If you’re not actively talking to your customers on social media, you’re losing the opportunity to connect with them in real-time. Studies show that brands using social media to engage their customer service have 47% higher customer satisfaction than brands using email, or worse, phone service. You might as well use that phone service to pick up a call from 1994; who wants its marketing tactic back.
Why have an unhappy customer sat there, waiting for an email reply when you could communicate with them and help to resolve their issues online at the speed of tweet? Understandably, you might still have to send them through a customer service email line, but the impact of receiving a response in real-time will help diffuse their anxiety and make them feel like their issues are a priority.
Having an active online presence also gives you the opportunity to comment on trending topics and stay relevant online.
It increases brand loyalty
People form relationships with brands in the same way they do elsewhere. Brands that understand them, their deepest desires, their pet peeves, and also sounds like them and values the same things they do. These are the brands with the most loyal customers. Your best friend is the one you go to for advice and to share great experiences, you’ll likely engage with your favorite brand the same way. This is how brand loyalty develops.
Brands that use social media as a way of developing two-way communication with their customers will maintain a sense of loyalty from them that other businesses refraining from using social media will not. In fact, 65% of people feel stronger brand loyalty when a brand reaches out or replies to them on social media.
Brand guidelines are a great tool for forming and maintaining a consistent brand experience. But they are also only guidelines. And while some stingy, old-world bosses may argue the need to stick rigidly to these guidelines, going off track might enhance a customer’s experience with your brand.
As you can see above, using social media to connect with customers, and potential customers has massive benefits, when done properly. Your brand doesn’t have to have the emotional DNA of Disney, Starbucks, or Wendy’s to succeed. Even a cleaning service or meal delivery box can create powerful human connections with people through social media. Remember to stay engaged, respond in a timely fashion, and connect on a human level. Now, go talk to that boss!