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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.

 

Getting Your Social Media Budget Approved – Tips

Getting Your Social Media Budget Approved – Tips

At a recent roundtable discussion comprising marketing professionals from a range of industries (including hospitality, music and banking), we investigated the challenges faced regarding social media marketing. We asked marketing professionals what their single biggest problem was when it comes to marketing their brand on social media. We expected responses such as “understanding algorithms” or “measuring return on investment”. Instead, the leading answer was (surprisingly): getting approval for a social media budget. Some marketing managers had difficulty getting sufficient funds allocated towards social media activities, while others struggled to get a budget at all.

Most of the marketers surveyed attributed this problem to their organisation’s decision-makers’ lack of understanding regarding the business value offered by social media. The rest simply didn’t know where to start in terms of approaching their business’s CEO/Director/Owner/Financial Manager about investing in social media. Based on the insight provided by this focus group, we have put together some tips to help marketers when it comes to getting your social media budget approved.

Getting your social media budget approved –  tips for marketers

Before approaching your company’s decision-maker about social media budgets, make sure that you have the required information and insight at hand. These are some tips and techniques designed to help you motivate your case for social media investment:

Take an integrated approach: Instead of approaching social media as a separate marketing component, integrate it with your overall marketing plan. Social media has the capability to support virtually any other marketing activity. For example, driving foot traffic if you have an in-store sale or boosting awareness and ticket sales for an event. It should therefore form an integral part of your marketing mix. Presenting a well-designed marketing plan that includes social media may be more favourably received than a separate social media plan in isolation. 

 

Do the research: Social media is able to support your brand’s needs, wants and priorities. Shortlist your company’s business objectives and look at how social media can promote each of these goals. This includes tangible factors such as sales generation, as well as promoting goals such as increasing brand awareness or positive affinity. Both short- and long-term company goals should be taken into account when ascertaining how social media can be used to benefit the business.

 

Do the legwork: Consult with social media specialists to gain insight into solutions that would work best for your brand. Speak to more than one expert so that you can get a balanced idea of the options that you have. Thereafter, get quotes that are in line with an appropriate social media strategy for your brand. By doing this, you will be able to explain how the requested social media budget will be spent, as well as the underlying rationale of the plan. If hiring an in-house team is not a viable option, look at outsourcing this function. That way you can get the benefit of excellent social media management without the hassle of employing more people. This will save time, effort, money, company resources and other overhead considerations. Read more… 

 

Rands and Sense: Social media has the potential to provide high return on investment. Again, this is both in terms of bottom-line results as well as factors like brand positioning or customer satisfaction. It is an efficient, cost-effective marketing method. A well-executed social media strategy is one that is highly result-driven. This means that funds allocated towards social media should be viewed as an investment in the business, not as an unnecessary expense.

 

It’s all in the numbers: Most decision-makers are fans of reports and statistics. While traditional marketing does provide some data, social media does not shy away from the numbers and is rich in qualitative and quantitative metrics. Social media platforms are able to provide measurable results, accurate data, comprehensive reports and even information like insight into consumer behaviour and market trends. Emphasise the science behind social media, and how it can improve the business in general – not just marketing tasks. This alone may be the key to winning over the financial gatekeeper. 

 

Re-allocate Marketing Budgets: If your company has budget restrictions and simply cannot increase marketing spend, consider re-allocating existing budgets. Analyse the returns you are receiving from your current marketing platforms (e.g. billboards, television and print). Then look at re-allocating some of these funds to social media activities.

 

Additional points to support social media investment:

To substantiate your “pitch” for a social media budget, these are some of the additional benefits offered by social media:

> It offers custom audience targeting – meaning that there is little to no wastage on unsuitable consumer segments. This makes it a highly targeted and cost-efficient marketing method.

> It is versatile and supports different media types (image, video, slideshows etc). You can also provide value-rich content (such as tips, articles, insight) in addition to marketing content.

> You can interact directly with your clients as social media supports two-way communication, which is great for improved customer support services.

> In today’s digitally rich business environment, it is imperative that brands have a strong social media presence and are active and agile to respond to comments, queries and complaints which assist in reducing risk for the company.

 

Final thoughts:

The key to getting senior decision-makers to invest in social media lies in demonstrating the business value offered by social media. Also, social media is not a passing fad – it is here to stay. Therefore, not being on social media leaves a business at a disadvantage. This is both in terms of competitors, as well as business progression. Social media is no longer a “nice-to-have”, it is a “must have”.

We hope that the above points help with the challenge of getting social media investment – both in terms of finances and interest. For additional insight and advice, get in touch with the Social Media 101 team. We can also assist with effective social media strategy planning and execution, as well as platform management. CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101. 

Why Social Media 101 – What makes US a great consultancy?

Why Social Media 101 – What makes US a great consultancy?

The phrase “All social media agencies are not created equal” is not just an accurate statement, but an understatement – given the current state of affairs. This is due to the vast disparity among the many social media service providers in terms of quality level and expertise. But how do you know a great agency when you see one? Well, we at Social Media 101 are here to tell you a bit about ourselves and what makes US a leading social media consultancy. And we sincerely hope that by the end of this, you understand what makes Social Media 101 different, and why we would be a great agency to partner with. 

Why Social Media 101 – what makes US a great consultancy? Here are some of the things that sets us apart in this highly competitive industry:

 

OUR SOCIAL MEDIA & BUSINESS ACUMEN

 

Strategic, result-driven approach

We are a social media business consultancy and take a strategic approach to all services. We speak your language – we know that it all comes down to return on investment and positive business impact. Social Media 101 works with you to understand your business, industry, customers and competitors. We then look at what your primary business objectives are, and structure a social media strategy in line with these defined objectives. Our social media activities are result-driven and focus on your business goals: whether its driving sales, increasing brand awareness, boosting desired customer affinity or other objectives based on your needs. We also integrate social media activities with your existing marketing and business endeavours (e.g. by promoting live events or traditional marketing campaigns).

 

Client-centric Service

At Social Media 101, we pride ourselves on being agile, responsive and adaptable. We take a client-centric approach and craft a social media solution that works best for you. Our service offering is flexible as we understand that a “one size fits all” style just does not work when it comes to social media. We are also available outside of normal business hours and have an open and approachable management structure. This customer-centric approach also applies when we manage your clients on social media i.e., we are responsive and provide excellent customer support that further positions YOUR brand as client-focused.

Reporting

We provide in-depth reports so that you can keep track of our performance as well as your investment returns. These can be customised based on your priority measurables. We also explain what the data means so that you are empowered to drive informed business decision-making.

Full Service Offering

We can supply (or source) services to meet all your needs: from Search Engine Optimisation to animation to live event social media coverage. We also have a network of partners equipped to handle all social media and digital requirements including legal and business advice. This assists not only with service excellence, but risk mitigation and crisis management (should the need arise) as well.

 

 

OUR SOCIAL MEDIA EXPERTISE & KNOWLEDGE

 

Team of Experts

Each member of our team is a specialist in their field, as well as in social media. For example, our graphic designers are skilled at creating visual content for social media. Our copywriters know social media best practices for written content for each platform. Our strategists are experienced when it comes to the algorithms and rules that govern the social media sphere. And all of our social media experts have a high level of business acumen that ensures professional execution of tasks. The diverse backgrounds of our team members include experience and qualifications in: Business, Sales, Marketing, Law, Communication Science and Psychology (to name a few). From a social and digital media perspective, our team of specialists include data analysts, media booking specialists and content producers that are able to create high quality material to suit different media needs, including articles, videos, GIFs, animation clips, carousel-type content etc.

Advanced Social Media Knowledge

On the surface, social media platforms appear simple enough to use. However, behind the curtain (or in this case, the screen) are complicated systems driven by complex programs and algorithms. This affects the performance of all social media content – both paid and unpaid. At Social Media 101, we understand the inner workings of the different platforms, and take a scientific approach when planning activities. This includes content, media type, audience targeting and even the timing of uploads. By using best-practice methods, return on investment is maximised based on the strategy behind each message.

|Sidebar: Have you noticed that your personal Facebook feed now has more family & friend posts than marketing? This is a practical example of an algorithm change affecting content delivery. 

 

Constant Industry Upskilling & Tools

Social media platforms, as well as digital technology, are constantly evolving and advancing. Social Media 101 team members continually upskill themselves to keep up with technical changes and market trends. Not only does this help keep your online marketing content relevant, but feeds into your overall marketing and business activities as well.

| Quote:Social media is an ever-growing and changing platform, with algorithm adjustments happening constantly […] and without dedicated monitoring and adjustments, your business could be missing out.” (www.thumped.co.uk

 

We also invest in tools and partnerships to provide our clients with a superior service offering. These include reporting, tracking and insight applications. We stay in the loop with regard to emerging software and tools that can further boost the level of service we provide.

At Social Media 101, we have a proven track record across numerous industries, business types and regions. Since inception, our business has grown threefold year-on-year. Our clients base includes local, global and international brands, and continues to expand. Despite this growth, we take a personal and dedicated approach to every client and strive to exceed expectations always. We believe that this ethos, along with our expertise and experience, makes us a leader in the social media field. Put us to the test – we are confident that you will not be disappointed.

If you are looking for a great agency to partner with, or if your current agency simply does not match up, give Social Media 101 a call. We look forward to hearing from you. CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101.

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How to choose a social media agency

 

LinkedIn in the South African environment

LinkedIn in the South African environment

Bobby Darnell, business development consultant said: “Active participation on LinkedIn is the best way to say, ‘Look at me!’ without saying ‘Look at me!” During the LinkedIn Indaba, held earlier this year, we learned just how much of an impact LinkedIn has on the on our South African setting.

From 6 000 sign ups in 2003 to an estimated 575 million active users today, LinkedIn has surely come a long way, although, in some circles, it is still considered the black sheep of social networks.

LinkedIn is a social network with a very specific audience: it has the aim of connecting the world’s professionals to make them more productive, more successful and ultimately more in touch with content and people that can enable the growth they seek.

On a normal day, LinkedIn boasts 15 million jobs, 50 000 skills listed, and 109 billion updates viewed. This is no small impact, considering that LinkedIn is only one of several social media networks currently available.

The LinkedIn Indaba was held in Johannesburg in October, and apart from sharing some insights on the platform, our dot on the map was the main focus: how does LinkedIn fair in the South African environment?

As proudly South African as braaivleis, the Cape Wine Lands and the word “eish”, so are Sangomas, known as traditional healers in African cultures. Sangomas are also found on LinkedIn; 85 of them to be exact. Also, 644 Sommelier’s can be found on LinkedIn, in South Africa. A Sommelier is a trained and knowledgeable wine professional: and thus, amongst the magwenja’s, also truly South African.

In South Africa, LinkedIn boasts seven million users, 75 000 jobs and 30 000 companies. There is a world of possibilities, in a country where the unemployment rate has increased from a staggering 37.3% earlier in 2018 to a worse still 37.7%.

Most LinkedIn users in South Africa are based in Johannesburg, followed by Cape Town, Durban, Bloemfontein, Port Elizabeth and then Polokwane. This means that the major business centres in South Africa are all covered with LinkedIn users, which indicates that the platform is being used in all corners of the country.

In South Africa, the majority of LinkedIn users use the site for networking. It is indicated that 56% of South African users use LinkedIn to network with other professionals. While 60% use the platform to stay up to date on what their colleagues are doing.  61% of South African LinkedIn users use the platform to keep up to date on industry discussions, meaning that LinkedIn as a social media networking site for professionals, gives individuals the opportunity to not only connect with others but learn and update their skills and knowledge, staying on top of what the trends are in a specific industry. While 28% of users in South Africa use the platform to actively seek employment opportunities.

In South Africa access to social media is quite literally in the palm of our hands. Just over half of LinkedIn users (55%) access the platform from a desktop computer, with 15% accessing LinkedIn from a mobile phone. While the remaining 30% access the platform through a combination of devices. This points to the type of LinkedIn users in South Africa: most likely professionals, people for whom popping onto LinkedIn isn’t about a quick catching-the-latest-memes-on-the-move, they are active participants in their professional community with an engaging commitment to their job and profession, with the aim of bettering themselves and staying on top of movements happening in their industry.

The top job titles listed on LinkedIn in South Africa are as diverse as our country. These include teachers, sales representatives, IT consultants and software developers. Top skills listed on LinkedIn by South African users are Microsoft abilities, customer service, management, leadership, project management and strategic planning.

The leading industries in South Africa, according to LinkedIn are financial services ranking first, followed by information technology, mining and metals, retail, construction and higher education. This shows a clear indication of where most LinkedIn users are employed. Walking hand in hand with these industries, three of the five top employers in South Africa, based on South African LinkedIn users, are in the financial industry, with Sasol and Eskom Holdings completing the Top five.

 

Company sizes in South Africa differ quite extensively, according to LinkedIn with the majority of companies employing over 10 000 people, and the second largest range between 1001 and 5000 employees. The third largest company size comes from companies employing between 11 – 200 people. Although this shows big institutions as the majority employer, it also points to the small businesses that employ people, a welcomed sight and a sign of innovation and entrepreneurial skills in South Africa.

In the South African market, Operations and Business development are the largest job functions on the platform, followed by Sales, Information Technology, Engineering and Finance. This means that the largest amount of South African LinkedIn users identified their primary job functions as Operations, Business development and Sales.

LinkedIn offers a portal, an opportunity, a hope for businesses and individuals to connect, learn, enable themselves and ultimately find like-minded individuals to build futures with, more so in our sunny South Africa.

We have noted some welcomed updates to LinkedIn over the past 8 months, proving this professional platform to be innovative and striving forward in providing value to its users.

Social Media 101 can assist B2B businesses with winning strategies on LinkedIn as well as offer personal branding workshops to assist professionals with their LinkedIn profiles. Contact us to learn more. CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101. 

THE THEORY OF BUSINESS EVOLUTION: ADAPT OR DIE

THE THEORY OF BUSINESS EVOLUTION: ADAPT OR DIE

Despite varying opinions regarding the origins of our species, there are certain inalienable truths that dominate our existence. Certain human attributes contribute greatly to the way people make choices, as well as interact with each other and their environment. Our entire survival is based on these core rules. Businesses, since they operate within a (human) consumer-driven ecosystem are also governed by these “laws of nature”. One of the most fundamental of these “laws” is that for any entity to survive, it has to be well suited to its surroundings. And should this habitat or environment change, continued survival is dependent on the ability to adapt in line with these changes. In the wild, it’s adapt or die. In business, it’s no different. Read the article below to find out why. 

“When you don’t innovate, you die. When you don’t change, you die.”

– Gary Vaynerchuk

 

 

The Theory of Evolution – Human | Nature

Consider this: why is it that in the current age of mind-blowing technological advancement and unmatched levels of human intelligence, it is an undeniable fact that “sex sells”? I mean, we consider ourselves highly evolved, intellectual beings, right? So why do we remain under the power of such base instincts and primal forces? It’s because certain genetic traits still dominate human behaviour. Since the origin of the human species, there have been inherent characteristics that have been carried forward. These include innate survival instinct, a competitive nature, an impetus to grow and a constant drive to improve our surroundings and quality of life. When it comes to both ourselves and our environment, humans have always looked for ways to innovate (hey, we invented the wheel AND sliced bread). We have also consistently been attracted to those that make our lives better or more enjoyable in some way. Throughout time, chosen leaders were those that knew how to best thrive in a given environment and had the most to offer his (or her) followers.

Despite centuries of evolution, these basics have remained the same. Survival and success still come down to excelling in a certain setting. People are still loyal to those who offer them security, peace of mind and the best benefits. And not being able to adapt to a changing environment still means certain death.

“We all grow. We’re made to grow. You either evolve or you disappear.” 

– Tupac Shakur

 

 

Adapt or Die – A Guide To Business Survival 

Ok so this would all be very nice if we were studying human biology and psychology, but what does it have to do with business? Well, businesses are not exempt from these fundamentals of nature. For a business to succeed, it also has to adapt to changing environments and consumer demands. Failure to do so leads to poor performance and, ultimately, the death of a business. One key area where businesses fall short relates to digital transformation. Statistics, studies and even companies’ own research show that consumers are increasingly moving towards digital and social media channels. Yet many organisations have still not adapted their business model in line with this change. They still use predominantly traditional methods and are reluctant to invest in social and digital media. This is impeding their ability to thrive and compete in a tough consumer landscape. These are some of the reasons why:

  • Natural Selection: Consumers will naturally choose the brands that best meet their needs and desires. Customer experience is becoming the key factor impacting purchase decisions. Consumers want the convenience, interactivity, personalisation and responsiveness offered by social media. Not giving clients what they want is likely to eliminate you as a natural choice from a consumer point of view.

 

  • Evolution: Life and business are all about innovation and progress. Social and digital media not only offer the opportunity and tools to move your business forward, they also provide valuable benefits. These include more cost-effective options, better success rates and higher return on investments. And it’s not just about marketing and advertising. Using digital methods can help with the evolution of your business as a whole, assisting with both growth and longevity.

 

  • Survival of the fittest: When it comes to business, it’s a dog eat dog world. The market environment is highly competitive, and therefore only the best will survive. You may not be on social media, but your competitors sure are. This means that they have a huge advantage in terms of visibility, reach and customer satisfaction, amongst other things. If you want to be an alpha wolf within your industry, you not only have to be on social and digital media, but also make sure that your presence is superior to that of your competitors.

 

  • Extinction: Businesses that have not yet embraced this brave new world of digitisation and social media could face possible extinction. Besides the risk of being annihilated by your competitors, you will simply get left behind. You don’t need to suddenly mutate your business into some high-tech monster, you just have to make simple changes to your processes and tasks. For example, adopt a multi-point strategy that includes social and digital media, adapting your existing operations in line with market trends and so forth.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that  survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

– Charles Darwin

 

Not the end…

… but the start of a new era.

Business and nature share certain fundamental characteristics that relate to success, growth and survival. One of the most crucial survival mechanisms is the ability to adapt to changing environments. The current business environment is highly consumer-driven, competitive and increasingly digitised. For businesses to succeed they need to evolve their processes to be in line with the current landscape at any given time. Failure to do so is likely to result to the eventual death of a business. And that, unfortunately, is just the nature of the beast we call business.

 

Need an ally to help you take on the challenging business landscape? Contact Social Media 101 – we dive into the shark tank and surface triumphant. Why? Because when it comes to social and digital media, we are the leaders of the pack.

CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101

Business Marketing: Social Media Influencers

Business Marketing: Social Media Influencers

Social media influencers, as the term implies, are entities that have some sort of influence or persuasive power on online audiences. This is achieved through amplifying content via various social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. Accounts with large followings are paid to promote brands via their posts on these platforms.

While the concept of brand ambassadors or endorsers is not new, what makes social media amplifiers different is that you don’t have to be rich or famous to become one – you just need to have a substantial audience base. However, a big account is not all it takes. Here’s a short crash course on the world of social media amplification.

 

What is Social Media Influence?

Social Media influence or amplification takes place when content is shared online within (and across) social media platforms. This includes both paid and unpaid (organic) sharing by stakeholders like your employees, your customers and your online audience. It also includes sharing by influencers such celebrities who may not even use your product or service but are paid to promote your brand online.

 

Types of Social Media Influence or Amplification

There are many categories and sub-categories of influencers online, but we will look at the three main types of amplification, namely: Social Media Influencers, Employee Amplification and Customer Amplification.

 

Social Media Influencers

The most well-known type of social media influence is endorsement by celebrities or people who are in the public eye. These include actors, musicians, sports stars, politicians, prominent business people, well-known thought leaders and other public personalities. Notable celebrity influencers include former First Lady Michelle Obama and pop sensation Selena Gomez. But, unlike most traditional brand endorsement, fame alone is not enough to make you a social media influencer. Celebrity or not, you still need a large online audience to your name. Conversely, if you are not well-known but you have a substantial online following, you can earn yourself “celebrity” status on social media purely due to your audience size. Some social media users are even “anonymous” yet get paid to endorse products or services. How is this so? Because it’s all about leveraging off the existing relationship between the influencer and their (sizeable) audience.

Micro-influencers are another type of social media advocacy. These are accounts that may not be huge but have a significant following within a certain industry or niche market. For instance, consider a food blogger that has an audience of a few thousand people. While this may not seem much in comparison to the major players, such a person has the potential to make a tangible impact within a given market. For example, by posting about the quality of food and service at a specific restaurant.

 

Employee Amplification

Employee Amplification (also known as Employee Advocacy) is a powerful yet somewhat untapped form of social media influence. It refers to harnessing the endorsement value and online presence of key employees. It starts with positioning your expert staff members as thought-leaders and trusted advisors within their field. The employees then act as passionate and knowledgeable brand ambassadors through their posts on their personal accounts, positioning the business in a positive light.  Not only does this boost desired public sentiment for the brand and the employee, but it also promotes extensive organic (free) audience reach through the employee’s personal audience as users are more likely to share content received via their own network than a business page. In fact, statistics show that company-based messaging reach is 561% higher when shared by employees as opposed to the business itself! (www.falcon.io). Click to read more on Employee Amplification.

 

Customer Amplification

We all know the importance of customer service, but the growth of social media has now exponentially increased the impact it can have on businesses. Your customers also have the potential to be brand ambassadors and influencers when it comes to your products and services. Brands can make the most of this opportunity by ensuring that positive customer experience is at the core of all business activities. Excellent business offerings, engaging social media content and responsive client-centric service is likely to result in your brand receiving glowing recommendations online. Think about personal experiences – if a business impresses with its quality of service or products, the user is more likely to talk about the experience with friends and family. The same applies to their online community. Only when it comes to social media, its word-of-mouth marketing on steroids. Not only is it great for promoting positive brand affinity, it also acts as free advertising through authentic client endorsement.

 

Implementing an amplification strategy

Navigating the social media influencer landscape can be tricky. Here are some points to keep in mind for a successful campaign:

 

Customer Experience

Creating great customer experience at all touchpoints (through advertising, in-store and especially social media activities) can promote loyalty and affinity for the brand. This then drives customer endorsement online.

Social media posts should be highly customer-centric and hold some sort of value for the user, such as informative, intriguing, attractive and high-quality content. This promotes customer engagement and sharing of the content – resulting in increased organic reach. Content should also be optimised for each platform as well as for mobile viewing to increase engagement and share potential. Responsiveness and personable communication are crucial elements of good customer service as well.

 

Incentives

While both Employee Amplification and Customer Amplification are driven by the users’ loyalty and passion for the brand, a little incentive doesn’t hurt. Employees can be incentivised (financially or otherwise) to publish posts about the business on their personal networks. Customers can also be encouraged to engage and share through polls, giveaways and rewards (such as accessing online resources).

 

Type of Influencer

Choose the type of influencer based on their strengths and how well it meets your objectives. For example, social media advocates like celebrities have extensive reach as well as influence over their audience. Micro-influencers can be highly valuable due to their niche (and usually highly-engaged) audience. Employee advocacy is an excellent way to position the brand and its employees as industry thought-leaders. And your customers can act as (unpaid) brand ambassadors that promote your business through their genuine love for the products and service you offer. 

 

Influencer Vetting & Content

When using the services of an influencer, you need to partner with people that are credible and genuinely resonate with your brand. You also need to do thorough due diligence to ensure that their audience consists of real, engaging human beings (as opposed to a bought audiences or bots). You are, after all, paying them based on the number of people a post from them is estimated to reach.

Also, it’s not as simple as just telling the influencer the product or service to pitch – you need to craft the actual post content in terms of your objective or, at the least, review and approve content prior to publishing. The digital community is a discerning bunch, so make sure your content has a level of authenticity. It’s also imperative that the influencer does not post messaging from competitors or publish contradictory posts (for example, tweeting about how amazing your restaurant’s steak is, and then the very next day mentioning her vegan lifestyle).

 

Training

Brands can send their employees on courses such as Personal Branding and Employee Amplification training to aid in positioning staff and executives as thought-leaders. Business decision-makers can also be equipped with knowledge regarding online risk mitigation and understanding social media data metrics – both of which are valuable when it comes to social media amplification. Beyond training, there are software systems that can be implemented to assist employees with resources, such as pre-approved content, from the company they work for. This improves efficacy of the content and cuts down on time taken to create content.

While there are pros and cons to social media influencers, the one thing that’s undeniable is the sheer impact it has on the business and consumer landscapes. And whether you “like” it or “unlike” it, it is certainly here to stay 😊.

 


Social Media 101 assists businesses in driving online influence, whether that be improving customer sentiment or sourcing, vetting and managing macro and micro influencers. We also offer training for: employee amplification, creating content and implementing software tools for an employee advocacy programme. Get in touch if your business needs influence and amplification. CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101. 

 

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