Customer engagement has never been more important than it is right now. With so many stores having to temporarily close their doors, marketing efforts have had to move exclusively online.
Gone are the strategies focusing on traditional and print marketing—people aren’t going out enough to see them.
Social media has been a core content marketing platform for most businesses, regardless of their size. And in the current environment, these channels are becoming even more necessary.
From increasing website visits to building customer loyalty, social media offers a number of advantages when most marketing avenues are closed to businesses.
We share a few reasons why social media is the best customer engagement option for companies right now.
Increasing Social Media Users
Brands have known for a while that they need to be where their customers are—and those customers are increasingly on social media.
Because social media is free to use—aside from financial investments in advertising—it has become a lucrative form of communication for businesses across the board.
Large percentages of online users are utilizing social channels to keep in touch with the news, find entertainment to distract them, or to educate themselves.
But it isn’t enough to have a social channel—businesses also need to be active on as many platforms as possible.
Now is the time to revive dead accounts or create profiles on new channels like Snapchat and TikTok—which are popular among younger audiences.
And the kind of content companies create needs to be planned out—it is best to share updates about what is happening within its walls.
Position yourself as a thought leader by creating a timeline infographic about how and when your store can reopen, and under what conditions.
Talk about how the changing environment is impacting the way the business functions, and how customers will in turn be affected.
Communication needs to go both ways—find out what customers are looking for on these platforms. How can businesses solve their problems?
You can use fillable forms to collect information and analyze it.
Organizations need to examine how their target audience is now using these platforms so they can design content that will appeal to them and help them engage with the brand.
Build Bridges to Customers
While social media platforms are being used by individuals, professionals, and businesses, it is important to remember that these channels were created for personal communication.
Businesses have entered the space—and largely behaved themselves in it—but at the end of the day, there is a personal level to these channels that cannot be forgotten.
One doesn’t want to impinge on the customer experience on social media, especially during a crisis situation like the one we are facing now.
People are using social media to reach out to loved ones and friends whom they can no longer visit—they do not want businesses to intrude in this area.
While businesses are still trying to use social media to sell their products and services—because their stores are closed—they need to be mindful of how they achieve sales.
This is the time to build bridges to your customers—not only will they feel more comforted by knowing that a business they support is looking out for them, but it will generate more leads.
Instead of being sales-forward, businesses can post updated news on the global situation, share their experiences, and ask customers for their opinions and feedback.
The more engaged customers feel with businesses, the more likely they will be to honor commitments for buying items from the company.
Authenticity from companies will make lead generation on social channels a more effective strategy and will foster an environment of trust.
Encourage Customer Loyalty
Companies who haven’t had to rely solely on online methods of communication with their customers will find that encouraging customer loyalty can be challenging.
Social media is chock-a-block with content—if you don’t post regularly, you will likely be missed, and even forgotten.
On the other hand, posting too frequently can come across as spammy, leading to users unfollowing you.
There is a delicate balance to achieve in this regard, but if one can do it, the rewards are immense.
Post on social media when your customers are active—during the mornings before they start work, during lunch hours, and once the workday has ended.
These are the times when people can stop what they are doing and look through their social feeds—when they’re actively looking for distractions.
But while these are peak hours to reach customers, it can be challenging to post during what are essentially off-work times for social media teams.
Fortunately, there are a number of social media tools that can be used to schedule posts during these hours—the posts can be written in advance and uploaded to the tool with ease.
Encouraging brand loyalty goes beyond posting at the right times—one also needs to use the right tone of voice when ‘speaking’ to customers online.
Empathy and compassion should be at the heart of all communications—whether on social media or beyond.
Now is not the time for memes and GIFs—a more somber tone should be used to reflect the state of the world.
As customers become more accustomed to the situation, brands can relax the tone they use—but always examine how your customers are responding before continuing to post.
Social Media isn’t Expensive
One of the primary reasons why social media is so widely used by brands is because it is largely free to use.
Companies can post without payment, have employees join groups to network with professionals in the field, and reach their audiences organically.
But because of the proliferation of posts and accounts, most social channels have instituted algorithms that make it difficult to reach everyone that follows you.
With organic reach diminishing every year, to make the biggest impact on social platforms, paid promotions have become the best option for marketers.
For smaller companies, paying for posts may not seem feasible. However, when compared to print, television, or Google ads, social media is still far less expensive.
While Google Ads require an investment of anywhere between $5-$50 to sponsor ads, boosted posts on social media can bring in more views with just $1.
And boosting posts can have a cascading effect—social media is shareable, which means a post can be liked and shared by one person and seen by many more.
The same cannot be said of Google ads, or for content created for print and television.
Following on from expenses related to social media versus other media, even within the advertising sphere, social platforms are far more cost-effective.
During this period of crisis, when so many businesses are trying to cut down on costs, advertising can seem like a superfluous budgetary expenditure.
But social advertising still offers a number of advantages—you can target your audience with precision, improving the chances of your content being seen and acted upon.
For social media ads, you can choose demographics, interests, pages your audience visits, as well as the time and days they are most often online.
The customization afforded by social ads cannot be easily replicated on other platforms.
And the analytics on ads is unparalleled—one can learn so much about the audience and how to improve the next phase of the campaign.
This allows marketers to scale up their advertising to achieve better results in succeeding campaigns.
Plus, social media ads give marketers the option to retarget their customers—an important tool for converting one-time purchasers into loyal customers.
Marketers can use campaign analytics and examine website conversions to find customers who would be more open to purchasing from them again.
Not only does this improve brand recall, but it helps establish a loyal customer base that will aid in growing your business.
Customer service has always been a core element of brand building and relationship management for B2C companies. And social media has been a powerful tool in that regard.
Now, with more people spending time online, social media has become one of the primary ways to address customer issues.
Not only can customers reach out to brands via replies and comments on social channels, but brands can respond to queries instantaneously via messenger chats.
This mitigates the need for 24-hour customer service agents—an expense that small businesses would not be able to handle on a regular basis.
Social media chatbots can be programmed with stock replies but some of them are much more sophisticated, equipped to handle even the most complex of queries.
With advances in machine learning AI, chatbots can now learn from every customer interaction and even mimic real responses—humanizing the brand to boost customer satisfaction.
This technology still has some limitations, so customer service representatives will be required at a certain point.
But even in such circumstances, it is massively helpful for companies to stay engaged with their customers through social media chats.
Social media is an important customer engagement tool in a company’s arsenal.
More people are spending time on these platforms, making them an ideal mode of communication for brands.
Their cost-effectiveness and the variety of methods offered for reaching audiences makes social media the best option for boosting brand awareness and customer loyalty in 2020.