It's about them, not you
Just over a decade ago, businesses made their first forays into the world of social media. After initially ignoring social media as perhaps a fad, brands gradually started to use it as a marketing channel to sell their products or services.
Yet even though social is maturing as a channel, many brands still approach it rather awkwardly, a sentiment echoed by our own Steve Nuttall in a recent interview he gave to InTheBlack.
“We haven’t learned how to use social media as a customer support mechanism,” says researcher Dr Steve Nuttall. “By the time customers complain on social media, they may have exhausted all other avenues, and they’re angry. Many brands react strongly and are defensive,” he says.
In recent years, social media has transformed from being simply a digital marketing channel into a Customer Experience (CX) one. So what are the features of social media that make it so conducive to CX?
Firstly, it's public. Social media gives customers the ability to ask questions, complain and advocate in a public forum, which in turn influences other customers.
Secondly, it has reach. Before the existence of social media, people might have shared a buying experience with a close friend or family member. In the age of the "digital word of mouth", consumer feedback can now expand to the national or even international level.
Thirdly, it's fast. Consumers are becoming used to receiving immediate answers, and an increasing number are opting for chat or social media in favour of phone calls or store visits. Ringing a contact centre may involve several steps, such as responding to an automated menu or even sitting on hold. Sending a message on social media is quick and is encouraged by large sites such as Facebook, which rates businesses according to their average response time.
Faced with the fact that many customers, especially millennials, are using social media as a CX channel to give feedback, brands now face a choice. They can either try to divert customers who have a problem or query to another channel, such as a contact centre, or have people trained to deal with feedback on social media. If we consider social media a CX channel, it should no longer be the marketing departments’ responsibility. It is its own distinct channel and needs to be treated as such. But aside from dealing with feedback, what are other good uses for it?
Content marketing platform Stackla provides an example of how capturing and repurposing content from social media can garner excellent results.
Essentially, Stackla analyses various social networks around the world and requests user-generated content (UGC) for use in brand messaging. In a conversation with Fifth Quadrant, Todd Revolt, VP of Business Development at Stackla, told us a little more about how it works.
Todd gave the example of the Manchester United football club, which is one of Stackla's customers. For Manchester United, Stackla geofences the stadium so that any content being posted to social networks such as Instagram, Facebook or Twitter can be pulled into their feed and then used by the club to promote its brand.
The premise behind Stackla's platform is that people are now sharing more than ever and looking to their peers, family and friends for validation and recognition. There is data to back up Stackla's claims too. According to 2012 research by Nielsen, 92% of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and UGC above all other forms of advertising.
Stackla also provides case studies of how customers have benefited from using earned media. In one case study, Stackla was used by an agency working with Toyota. Over a six week period, street musicians could capture their acts and post videos and images on social using the #feelingthestreet hashtag. Fans could then vote for their favourite artists. From the top 40, the community would vote to assemble the 2016 “Feeling The Street Band”, which would then go on to perform around Australia.
New Zealand-based Media Blanco, which ran the campaign for Toyota using Stackla, decided that UGC was the way to go. “We knew authenticity was the key. Slick product photography and cheesy montage videos weren’t going to resonate with our core audience of 18-24-year olds. Instead, we put a focus on authentic user-generated content, using it to power our social display advertising," Kirsten Matthew of Media Blanco said.
The results of the campaign were over 1.2 million engagements (likes, comments, shares), which represented a 440% increase in total engagement from the previous year’s campaign, which had used owned content.
Social media has become a CX channel because it is a place where customers can meet, interact, advocate, and troubleshoot. Rather than strictly using it as a place for marketing efforts, brands should be focusing on listening and using UGC to increase advocacy and brand trust. Remember, it’s about them, not you.
For more on our talk with Todd, check out the full podcast here.