Trend 6: Social Media as Highest-Value Consumer Engagement Channel
By Simon Hunter, Business Development Director, HGS Europe
Earlier this year, HGS presented our trends forecast, comprising customer experience (CX) disrupter predictions, supported by practical strategies clients can use to succeed in the changing marketplace. This HGS ebook covers 11 trends, from those in self-service, mobile service, messaging, and social media, to artificial intelligence, robotic process automation and analytics. This year we frame change with the perspectives of an elite group of industry thought leaders. Here, we describe how HGS supports CX Trend No.4, from Mirinal Rai, Assistant Manager and Principal Analyst, ISG and Rahul Basu, Analyst, ISG on the rising value of social media as an engagement channel.
Here’s the recap of Trend 6 of the ebook:
CHANNEL: Social media is the highest-value consumer engagement channel.
Mirinal Rai, Assistant Manager and Principal Analyst, ISG and Rahul Basu, Analyst, ISG
Influencers will increasingly become the fastest-growing marketing channel, as audiences rely on peer consumer recommendations to drive upsurges in conversion rates for brands. Brands can leverage social media influencers to tell a story and drive brand awareness and recall. Influencers can also help brands to reach core demographics and drive strong brand perception shifts. Influencers can enhance the customer experience while driving engagement, consideration, and purchase intent. Influencers are using ephemeral content on social platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook to increase user engagement and content volume to reach wider audiences. Stories and live streaming videos are some examples of ephemeral content. The short-term nature of engaging ephemeral content produced by influencers forms a sense of urgency among the audience that is driven by the fear of missing out (FOMO). Ephemeral content can help a brand in introducing a new service or product in a way that captures the imagination of a larger audience.
Social listening enables brands to know their audiences better and find the right influencers for them. Social media monitoring can assist brands in identifying and targeting social media influencers who advocate for specific genres. Specific tools have influencer and outreach features that are made specifically for finding bloggers, vloggers, and publications in the related field using similar keywords that the brands are trying to reach. These tools also give the brands an option to sort via influencers, bloggers, companies, and regular users who might or might not have the status of an influencer. Metrics like total number of followers, shares per article, retweet ratio, site domain, and page authority are taken into consideration to find the right influencer for the right brand. Twitter analytics tools can be used to find trending topics and hashtags related to a brand. Once that step is complete, it becomes easy to search for influencers with the key topics. For these reasons, we will see more brands leaning on social media influencer content to enhance the customer experience while driving engagement.
In the distant past, brands exerted significant influence on consumers and their purchase behavior almost exclusively through advertisements and other forms of branded promotions. Today the rising number of channels—many comprising fellow consumers—has fine-tuned the way consumers think and their purchase preferences. One among such consumer forums is social media. Social media influencers have a lot of clout when it comes to the effect they can have on their contemporaries.
As you consider your social media strategy, consider this:
- Social media changes fast. You might feel that you are all over social because you are offering customer service on Facebook and Twitter, but the growth is actually in other platforms, such as Snapchat. Don’t put all your eggs in one network and be prepared to change direction if social trends change.
- Social interactions are transparent. This CX tool is the opposite of a voice call, where only the customer and agent can hear the call. Interactions on social channels are generally transparent and visible to every other user, which provides great opportunities for people to share examples of great service. On the flip side, if you make a mistake, then that negative experience will also be shared.
- Customers drive today’s CX channels. It used to be that brands defined the phone number and email address. Now customers are deciding where and how they want to interact with brands, and all you can do it monitor what’s going on and then be there.
- Omnichannel is not multichannel. You might offer support across chat, social networks, and voice, but that’s really just multichannel support. If you want to offer a real omnichannel level of support, then you need to be comfortable connecting these channels together. With this support, a chat customer can hop to voice and an agent picking up a call will see that the customer recently emailed or sent a message on another channel.
Today’s brand experience transcends mere customer service. You are designing the customer experience, not just a customer service channel. Social interactions can be focused on sales or marketing or service interactions - to the customer they are all the same thing. A customer commenting on your Instagram post doesn’t care which of your internal departments responds, just so long as there is a response and it is meaningful.