Social media marketing can seem overwhelming. When you start out it can feel like no one is listening, then once it picks up there aren’t enough hours in the day to respond to everyone on every channel. Not only is it difficult to measure its metrics and ROI, but with all of the options out there it can be hard to know where to even begin. While most companies today have a presence on some form of social media, many channels are underutilized. Insites Consulting’s Van Belleghem and De Meester state 68% of companies have a Facebook page, 56% own a Twitter account and 47% are on LinkedIn (4). That may seem fairly high, but their findings go on to state that, “4 out of 10 companies are still in the early stages of integration of social media” (5). Just because you have a brand page does not mean that you are truly optimizing the space. Developing new brand pages can be time consuming, but if done correctly, “…You can create a dialogue with your customers to ensure the right messages are relayed,” and, “uncover what they want, need, and expect” (Rogers).
Why it’s important
We already know that customers will reach out using the channels best suiting their needs. Facebook has more than 600 million active users and other social sites are constantly gaining momentum as well. Conversations will occur through social media sites about your brand whether you like it or not. However, in order to increase CSAT rates you not only need to monitor that conversation, but also moderate and engage with customers. Clear messaging, education about products and services, and answers to complaints or questions will only make interactions with your brand that much easier for customers. Using social media management to respond quickly to fans and followers will help to create loyal customers and brand advocates. It’s also important to stay consistent. Your brand should have a specific image and set of core values to follow and every advertisement, brand page, and message from you should reflect that; providing seamless integration from channel to channel to avoid any confusion.
Social media can be used for purposes other than having a conversation and engaging with your customers. It can also be used as another means to promote and sell your products and services.
ShopIgniter’s most recent Playbook states, “…Promoting and selling products using social media can activate loyal fans, drive acquisition of new customers, generate and amplify brand momentum and refer purchase-ready social customers to retail—online and off” (3). The natural interaction that occurs in social spaces like Facebook offers a unique advantage in that, “…Facebook’s Share, Like and Reviews features allow users to comment on items and pass them along to friends, creating a shopping domino effect that leverages peer-to-peer influence to provoke additional product views and purchases” (Taylor).
Taylor goes on to state that you will find the most success when integrating product sales into your social media pages if you create, “…An easy and secure user experience … [that] … mirrors the traditional e-commerce experience”. Shopping should be contained within whatever social space you decide to use, with as few redirects as possible, using the preferred method of payment taken on your home domain.
1) The impact of marketing communication increases
2) More satisfied customers
3) Positive correlation between level of social media integration and financial results of companies
There are many companies running their social media pages the right way. Not only are they paying attention to their customers’ needs, wants, complaints, etc., but they are also taking advantage of the space to advertise new products and services and generate buzz. There are even a select few influencing how other retailers must perform in order to keep up.
What can you do?
1) Set Goals – Have a clear social strategy laid out. Know what you want to accomplish and the steps you will take to get there. Start out small on a few sites rather than spreading yourself too thin. It’s far better to have a few sites with great content than be present on EVERY single social site, but never interact with customers.
2) Know the space – Know what you are going to need to function slightly differently on each social site. What works great on Facebook for example might not be as effective on Twitter.
3) Be Prepared to Invest– There are many ways to operate completely free on social sites, but depending on what you want to achieve, you may have to fork over some money to achieve your goals. Although social media ROI is hard to track, you can use a variety of analytic tools to get a fairly good reading, especially if you are using your social space for e-commerce.
Know the importance of having the correct labor pool behind your tech. tools. While you may be able to monitor using tools, in order to engage, social/live chat agents will be needed to create meaningful customer interactions.
4) Integration and personality – Be consistent with your brands personality across all channels. Don’t be afraid to experiment and have some fun with it. Try to think what your customers would want to read, see, do, and just overall what would make their shopping experience more convenient and enjoyable.
5) Learn from your mistakes and try new things—What works for one company may not work for another. Run various social campaigns such as contests, discount offers, advertisements and announcements and keep track of what’s working. Don’t be afraid to try what works for other brands, but also know when it’s time to go back to the drawing board to drum up new ideas.
Every company has room to grow in social media sphere, including highly successful ones As a customer of the brand, I have often shopped in their online store and have wished, numerous times, to have the option to speak with someone in customer service via live chat. Live chat offers real-time engagement and a quick response rate to problems, in addition to 85-90% customer satisfaction rates. Businesses using live chat see their average order size increase by 25% compared to non-chatters and prevent shopping cart abandonment, as visitors who chat are three times more likely to buy. Shifting service requests from phone to chat can also reduce the average cost per interaction by 80%. Sephora may have already considered this, but from what I can tell is not currently deployed. Perhaps this could be a possible area of expansion for Sephora in the future.
So forget your bad social experiences of the past. Start small and maintain focused, clear objectives, and you will be a master in no time. Let your creativity lead the way to allow your brand to stand out and ensure that your employees are as excited and passionate as you are about the brand. Above all, concentrate on the customer experience. By using social media to first and foremost create a dialogue with your customers, you will gain valuable insight that can be used to improve your products, shopping experience, and customer service. Through the development of strong customer relations, sales will soon follow.
Byrne, Ciara. “Pretty in Pinterest: Beauty Giant Sephora Integrates Pin-Boards.” VentureBeat. 10 April 2012. Web. 10 July 2012.
Drell, Lauren. “How Sephora Used Facebook to ‘Thrill’ its Fan Base.” Mashable. 20 June 2012. Web. 5 July 2012.
Rogers, Jessica. “The Social Media MBA: Part 5: Application and Integration of Social Media.” Windmill Networking. 6 June 2012. Web. 5 July 2012.
Taylor, Jason. “4 Facebook E-Commerce Tips for Brands.” Mashable. 3 March 2011. Web. 14 July 2012.
“The Playbook: Promote and Sell Products Using Social Media.” ShopIgniter July 2012: 3. Web. 3 July 2012.
Van Belleghem, Steven and Thibaud De Meester. “Social Media Integration Survey.” InSites Consulting. Dec. 5, 2011. Slideshow. 12 July 2012.