Terena Chetty, Author at Social Media 101
Social Media Rules of Engagement [Business Guide]

Social Media Rules of Engagement [Business Guide]

Forget rules of engagement, when it comes to social media, the rule IS engagement. In fact, engagement is a huge driving force behind most social media activities including business pages. It is often used to measure the success of a post or campaign, as well as gauge overall sentiment. Read on to find out how to make your social media presence more engaging.

 

Social Media Engagement

Social media engagement refers to different types of actions across the various platforms. These include: likes, shares, comments, retweets, clicks and other reactions to social media posts.

For businesses, the engagement need is twofold:

>> Firstly, you need to post content that your users find engaging. This helps you retain existing fans as well as attract new followers. But it’s not just about a great online presence. This positive sentiment extends to real-world benefits such as increased sales and new customers.

>> The other crucial factor is engaging with your audience. This includes acknowledging positive feedback, responding to messages and providing efficient service.

 

Social Media Rules of Engagement Bootcamp

In military terms, “Rules of Engagement” refers to rules soldiers need to follow when out in the field (for example: you are allowed to return fire if someone shoots at you). Well, social media has its own set of rules for interacting with users, and these apply to both the friendly and hostile users that visit your page. To help you navigate the online minefield, here’s our Social Media Rules of Engagement Bootcamp guide:

 

Social Media Rules of Engagement: Bootcamp Guide

>> Content is the Captain: For content to be engaging, it needs to be useful, interesting and high quality. Dip into your creative artillery and use different media types (such as video, animation and static content). Make sure there is value for the user while still promoting business objectives.

>> Game-plan: Start with a social media strategy. This should include content, scheduling, account management and related processes. Make sure your team members are well trained in their specific tasks, or bring in an expert to assist. For brands besieged with queries, there has to be a plan in place to deal with high message volumes (after all, you can’t go out into the social media field unarmed).

>> Going AWOL: Don’t let your social media visibility go AWOL (missing) due to not posting content for long periods. Posts need to be frequent enough to keep users engaged, but not so many that it becomes an annoyance in their newsfeeds.

>> Guerrilla Tactics: Using Guerrilla tactics like click-bait is risky. You may get the initial link-click engagement using this technique, but you are likely to lose the person altogether from this kind of method.

>> Patrolling: Patrol often by frequently checking your pages for comments or queries. People expect super-fast response times on social media, so make sure you have processes in place to provide it.

>> Battlefield: Don’t go into battle with users. Even if you are receiving hostile comments that are unjustified, stay on the high ground. Remain polite, professional and in line with brand tone at all times. Neither defensive nor offensive techniques work – there are no winners if you go into battle with customers.

When it comes to social media engagement, your primary missions are to drive user engagement and engage with users. And yes, sometimes it may seem like a battlefield when users start firing negative comments. But success lies in effective leadership, a strategic approach and professional responses at all time. Quality content and service should be your weapons of choice. And with the right team at your side, you will be on your way to winning on social media.

Need to call in the big guns? Get in touch with Social Media 101 – we can help lead your team to social media victory. CLICK HERE to contact us.

The Power of Customer Influence

The Power of Customer Influence

Online influence can take many forms, the most well-known being Celebrity Influencers, Employee Advocacy and Micro-Influencers (click here for more on influencers). In this article, though, we are going to look at one form of influence that is not talked about as often, namely, Customer Influence. More specifically, we discuss the power of customer influence for your brand.

The Power of Customer Influence

What makes something trend online? A high level of online engagement (likes, shares, comments) by people. What turns something into an online crisis? Widespread negative sentiment, again, by people online. This illustrates the power that customer influence has on a brand’s image online. This, in turn, effects business results such as sales and customer retention. Customer influence is closely linked to the Customer Experience (or CX) approach which is increasingly becoming the primary focus of business strategies across all industries.

| Quick Stat: 61% of consumers said they would be more likely to research a product or service recommended on social by a friend [Sprout]

 

Types of Customer Influence

Online activity can take the form of both unpaid and paid influence:

>> Unpaid influence is simply users voicing their feelings about a product, service or brand. This could be either positive or negative, based on their own experiences. Some users will comment on a brand’s business pages while others may post on their own pages either recommending or trashing a brand to their own network.

>> Paid influence is when a brand enlists the services of a micro influencer to post positive messages about the brand, usually via their social media pages. For example, a new mother raving about a baby product brand. Since the influencer is not an actual celebrity or brand ambassador, the messages appear to be their own personal opinions. Also, such messages are posted organically and don’t have the tell-tale “sponsored” tab that accompanies typical paid advertising.

 

Importance of Customer Influence

Quite frankly, customer influence could potentially make or break a business. People tend to react more strongly to posts from their contacts or trusted sources over brand-based messaging. Large scale negative sentiment on social media often leads to a crisis that could seriously harm a brand’s reputation. On the other hand, happy customers generate a brilliant form of word-of-mouth marketing on social media (aka marketing-on-steroids). This not only boosts business goals like sales, but ever-important positive brand affinity as well.

| Quick Stat: According to a study done by Forbes, 81% of consumers’ purchasing decisions are influenced by their friends’ social media posts [Social Media Today] 

 

How to Drive Positive Customer Influence

It’s a no-brainer: simply provide great service and products to your clients both online and offline. It’s all about creating an excellent experience throughout the client’s entire journey with the brand. From a social media perspective, here are some ways to boost positive customer sentiment:

User-centric content: Post good quality, engaging content that has high user value, like blog articles, tips and how-to guides. Such content is likely to delight users. User reaction to content will indicate what your audience likes best (or doesn’t care for).

Be adaptable: Take your cues from your customer, and adapt content and/or service based on their demands. This may mean adding or removing posts. Effectively manage online conversations for maximum client satisfaction.

Be responsive: Respond to client queries quickly and professionally. Remember, people often turn to social media after failing to get service via telephone or email. Even a complaint can be transformed to a positive experience for the customer if handled efficiently (click to read more). Engage with your clients when it comes to positive feedback, “likes”, etc.

Crisis Management: Have a process and plan in place to tackle negative commentary before it becomes a crisis. In the unfortunate event that it does, have an available network of experts at hand to mitigate risk. Read more…  

Use paid micro-influencers: Use carefully selected micro-influencers that are relevant to your brand and audience. Ensure that they are well vetted, and that all content is approved before publishing.

Employee Amplification: Assist your company employees to be active on social media on behalf of your brand. Provide them with digital tools and resources to share on their social media pages should they come across a relevant question or query. Also, support them to report and provide feedback on negative online commentary. Read more….

 

Basically, people will complain about poor service, and rave about excellence. Social media typically amplifies and extends these messages. The key to driving positive customer influence is to constantly and consistently exceed expectations. Ensure that your social media content and platforms are managed by experienced and skilled social media specialists to help you achieve this.

Need help driving business goals? Social Media 101 offers custom solutions to suit your brand. CLICK HERE to get in touch with us.

Do You Have a Social Media Strategy? [Business Focus]

Do You Have a Social Media Strategy? [Business Focus]

When you look at a high-rise building, what do you see? Sturdy walls, beautiful architecture, stunning finishes, and so forth. But what you don’t see is the groundwork or base, even though the building’ s stability and longevity weighs heavily (excuse the pun) on the strength of its foundation.

Similarly, for your social media activities to succeed, you need a strong foundation i.e. a social media strategy. A well researched; developed and executed strategy can make a huge, tangible impact to the business. This article delves into the reasons why a social media strategy is a must for all businesses.

 

Why you need a social media strategy.

The first step is to look at the way you view social media. It is not just an online billboard to market your products and services. Think of each of your social media pages as a dedicated channel to showcase your brand to your ideal target market of prospects and existing clients. This information can take the form of different content and media types based on your priorities. Your social media accounts act as valuable business platforms used to promote your key objectives. Content on these platforms should therefore be strategically planned for maximum business benefits.

Here are some points to consider when it comes to brand’s social media presence:

Business Objectives

All business functions should serve a purpose or achieve a goal. The same goes for social media activities. You need to define what business objectives you want to achieve via your social media platforms. Note that these are not limited to purely marketing goals, but rather, the core focus areas of the organisation as a whole. Bench-marking should be set by having expectations of the outcomes per objective.

 

Brand Goals

Planning needs to not only focus on short- and medium-term business goals. It needs to also lay the foundation for long term brand objectives. These could include the way the brand is perceived, increased brand affinity, brand market positioning, other growth-related factors. Remember that your social media posts form part of an ongoing timeline, and this should reflect long term brand goals.

 

Brand Corporate Identity

Your social media pages need to reflect brand corporate identity (CI) and ethos. This is done by ensuring all content is in line with pre-defined criteria in terms of communication tone, visual factors, design style and type of content. In addition, all content needs to have a standard of quality. Consumers make snap judgements based on their perceptions – make sure your brand is perceived as a quality brand both offline AND online.

 

Research

Unfortunately, many businesses put out content based on their needs and preferences. This tactic is not effective with online audiences. Instead, research into consumer wants and needs should form the basis of content planning. Social media platforms themselves provide insight into market, industry and customer behaviour. These reports and data metrics show the techniques that yield the best results. You are also able to set up your own A/B or marketing testing activities based on your required criteria or priorities.

 

Return on Investment – measurement

The success rates of most traditional business activities are assessed by analysing data and tangible outcomes. For some reason, the same approach is seldom used when it comes to social media. Whether your social media management is handled in-house or is outsourced, you need to know what you are getting out of it. As mentioned above, you first need to set objectives based on a defined timeframe. At the end of this period, you need to review the success of activities in order to ascertain your return value. Be sure to use reliable and useful engagement-based metrics that aid in decision-making (click here for more on social media metrics).

 

Many brands do not invest sufficient time and resources into their social media activities. Some companies assign the management of their accounts to junior staff members with limited experience on how the platforms work. Considering that a social media business page often has much more reach and impact than any other single business touchpoint, this is quite concerning.

Social media is a valuable business tool and should be viewed as such. Once you capitalise on the opportunities that social media has to offer for your brand, you will see the value of using your platforms in a strategy-based manner to drive your business goals.

Are you ready to take your social media to the next level? Contact Social Media 101 for everything from strategic planning to full scale social media content creation & management. CLICK HERE to get in touch with us.

Social & Digital Media Trends 2019

Social & Digital Media Trends 2019

As we kick off 2019, the energy and anticipation of what lies ahead in the social and digital media spheres is palpable. This includes both tech advancements and changes in the way that businesses incorporate these media functions into their operations. These are some of the social & digital media trends expected to make an impact on the business and marketing landscapes this year:

Business Strategy

>> Integration: Social and digital media will play a much more integrated role within organisations. As opposed to being treated as separate marketing elements, brands are embracing the business functions and value offered by these media types. For example, there will be an increase in the use of omnichannel (multiple channel – e.g. traditional plus social media) marketing, and the use of social media for different business objectives.

>> Risk & Reputation Management: With the ease, speed and reach of social media communication, the potential risk to brand reputation has never been higher. And therefore, the need for crisis and reputation management has never been more vital. Businesses will be partnering more with experts in this field in an attempt to best avoid and/or handle a possible negative public backlash, scandal or crisis linked to their brand.

>> Online & Asset Security: Companies have started to realise that online resources such as their audiences, content and databases are tangible, valuable assets. As such, the need for online security will increase exponentially to address the very real risks to such assets.

>> Budget Allocations: Let’s face it, not all business decision-makers were convinced that social media has a place in business. But now, the ROI and benefits are getting harder to ignore. Social media budget allocations are set to rise across all industries this year. SME’s in particular (even those with tight budgets) will be investing more in social media as the cost not to is too high in the current competitive market.

 

Brand Affinity & Customer Experience

>> Customer Experience & Service: There will be a notable shift towards a more Customer Experience (CX) approach by brands in line with consumer demand trends. Characteristics of this approach include customer-centric elements such as responsiveness, being “always-on”, interactive communication, quality content, targeted messaging & increased use of social media.

>> Brand awareness & affinity: In addition to price and quality, more emotion-based factors like customer sentiment and positive affinity will take centre stage. This is driven by CX-based factors such as ensuring excellent customer experiences throughout their journey with a brand. Positioning a brand as both client-focused and socially responsible is also a great way to drive awareness.

>> Social Listening: This year, egos will take a step back as social listening activities increase. It’s no longer about assuming what people think, but instead finding out how they really feel about a brand based on what is said online. This extends to comments on any platform, not just a business’s own pages.

 

Influencers

>> Micro-influencers: You don’t need to be a celebrity to become an influencer online. In fact, as consumers increasingly demand authenticity and transparency, brands are looking more to micro-influencers to help market their products and services. This could range from a food blogger to a stay-at-home-mom, and anyone between. It’s all about expertise in a field and/or an engaged, relevant audience.

>> Influencer Vetting: As more awareness is shed on factors such as bought or “fake” audiences, brands recognise that there is a need to vet any influencer before creating a partnership. This due diligence includes verifying their audiences, approving content and ensuring that there is no conflict of interest (with a competitor, for example).

>> Employee Advocacy: Also known as Employee Amplification, it refers to using key employees as online ambassadors for their company. Techniques such as positioning certain staff as thought leaders and trusted advisors will gain traction in both the B2B and B2C spheres this year. This is great for both personal and business branding.

 

Video Trends

>> 360 Video: Businesses have started using 360 video to provide users with a panoramic, immersive experience. Industries that are already making use of this include entertainment and tourism companies. With customer experience being at the forefront, more businesses are likely to experiment with this video style in the upcoming months.  

>> Vertical Video: As social and digital gains exponential market share over traditional marketing media, vertical video will be seen more and more. This is simply because such media is viewed predominantly on mobile devices. Instagram has even launched a dedicated vertical video platform, titled IGTV.

>> Native video: The use of native video (video uploaded on a brand’s own page or platform as opposed to a 3rd-party app like YouTube) will also increase. The launch of LinkedIn’s native video ad campaign options and Instagram’s long format video options further support this trend.

 

Tech

>> Automation, AI & Machine Learning: While the “social” side of social media is all about adding the human element to online activity, the tech side is all about reducing human contact points. More businesses will be incorporating automation into their service process, for example, social media bots. It’s all about streamlining processes, improving customer service and cutting costs.

>> Augmented Reality: Ok, so maybe this tech is not quite mainstream as yet, but it is definitely super cool. Augmented Reality or AR refers to digital, interactive technology delivered to the user in real-time. For example, apps that brings a child’s drawing to life when you position a smartphone or tablet above it. This video explains it much better – click to watch. From a marketing perspective, this technology can be used for anything from outdoor media (like a bus shelter) to wine bottle labels – click here to watch video. 

Well there you have it – some exciting stuff in store this year. Keep watch as they start to shake up the business and consumer markets over the upcoming months.

For more info on these or any other social and digital media topics, get in touch with Social Media 101. We would love to chat to you about the best options for your business. CLICK HERE to contact us.

Customer Service Versus Customer Experience

Customer Service Versus Customer Experience

Customer Service Versus Customer Experience: The term “Customer Experience” or CX is often mentioned in business – more so over the last couple of years. But what exactly does it mean? Is it just another way to describe customer service or is it something else altogether? In this article, we look at what Customer Experience is all about, what sets it apart from customer service and what significance it holds for business. We explain why your organisation should adopt a CX approach, and also provide practical solutions, like social media techniques, to help kick start this transition. Intrigued? Let’s get started.

CUSTOMER SERVICE VERSUS CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

Customer service, customer experience – Aren’t they the same thing? Not quite. Both concepts deal with the interaction between brands and consumers, but the way in which this takes place differs from one approach to the other.  Customer service generally refers to actual tasks and actions related to serving and servicing customers. Customer experience, on the other hand, focuses on public perception of the brand in its entirety. It is important to note that customer service remains a key component of customer experience. The difference is that with a CX approach, customer support activities form part of an integrated client-focused business strategy as opposed to being an independent department or set of tasks. Each term can be defined as follows:

> Customer service refers to support provided by a company to its clients. It generally includes services such as responding to queries (e.g. product price and stockists), sales support (e.g. sales consultants in-store) after-sales assistance (e.g. technical support) and complaint resolution.

> Customer Experience (CX) encompasses the entire journey or sum total of experiences that a client has with a brand. It includes everything from the first point of contact (such as seeing an advert on social media or a product in-store) to post-sales customer relationship. It not only includes physical factors such as the quality of a product, but also emotion-based elements such as customer perception and brand sentiment.

Customer Services versus Customer Experience – As a quick reference, here’s a comparison between customer service and customer experience, highlighting key characteristics of each approach: 

 

WHY CHANGE TO A CX-BASED BUSINESS APPROACH?

The answer to that lies in understanding why the CX approach emerged in the first place. The customer experience approach was developed as a response to changing consumer demands. Recent changes saw purchasing behaviour being influenced by client-centric elements at an increasing rate. This shift in consumer behaviour led to companies changing their business models to suit these demands. The result was a highly customer-centric approach that not only catered to these client needs, but also the changing business landscape in terms of digitisation and alternate media. This was termed the Customer Experience approach.  In the current market, convenience, user-value, personalised communication and brand image are slowly overtaking price as decision-making factors by buyers. In fact, according to statistics, 86% of buyers will pay more for a better brand experience (www.qualtrics.com).

So back to the question: Why change to CX? Well, it simply comes down to supply and demand. Customers demand a CX approach – and the better a brand supplies this demand, the higher their success potential. Studies show that this shift is not just a passing fad – they indicate that by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator (www.econsultancy.com). This is further backed up by Deloitte who state that a consumer’s decision to buy a product or service is impacted by their overall enjoyment of their experience. (www.econsultancy.com). In a consumer-driven business environment, failing to meet customer demands will not just lead to unrealised sales potential, but inevitably, losing market-share to competitors that satisfy said demands. 

 

HOW SOCIAL MEDIA CAN HELP YOU TRANSITION TO A CX-BASED APPROACH

By design, social media platforms are ideally suited to a CX-based approach. Below is a list of business characteristics for a strong customer centric approach and details on how social media supports each element:

> Convenience: Consumer research shows that the preferred brand platform for communication is social media. This communication includes sales & marketing content, as well as customer-service-based interactions such as queries, complaints and technical support. Most web-traffic being mobile-based, and as social media is highly mobile-optimised, this increases convenience for customers.

> User Value: Customers support brands that provide some sort of value for them. Social media supports value-rich content such as articles, blogs and surveys. The ability to upload different media types (e.g. images, videos and slideshows) also boosts entertainment and enjoyment levels for consumers.

> Responsiveness, adaptability & interactivity: Clients expect quick turn-around times, responsive service and personalised two-way communication. Social media promotes all this and more. Brands can interact on a one-on-one basis with clients, as well as provide personalised marketing messaging to different client segments. By nature, social media response times are much faster than most traditional customer service methods. Brands can even change their native content in minutes should there be a serious negative response by consumers.

> Positive Brand Image & Affinity: Social media allows brands to position themselves in a desirably manner to boost sentiment. This can be done by increasing user-value through content (as mentioned above), as well as by highlighting positive elements such as a business’s community work or social responsibility projects.

> Customer Journey & Relationships: Social media supports the entire customer journey – from the first point of contact to every other interaction thereafter. This includes brand awareness, sales, marketing, technical support and after-sales communication. It also allows for consistency of experience throughout this journey.

> Quality Service: The combination of the above factors, along with other related functions, means that social media helps improve the overall quality of service that a business offers. This ties in to the overall experience that a customer has with a brand, which is what CX is all about.

To summarise, the core goal of the customer experience approach is to promote positive brand perception that leads to long-term customer relationships. This in turn helps achieve brand objectives such as sales generation, customer retention and business growth. CX is rapidly becoming the primary factor influencing purchasing decisions and customer loyalty. For business success, it is imperative for companies to implement a CX-based approach as part of overall business strategy. Social media is excellently suited to support customer experience and business goals. It is also a cost-effective and non-disruptive way to transition businesses from a purely customer service approach to a customer experience approach. And in a relatively short period of time.

Need assistance with your CX-based activities? Social Media 101 can help with customised solutions to suit your unique business needs. CLICK HERE to get in touch with Social Media 101.

 

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