Building a Social Media Bridge to the Consumer – Social Media, Audience Engagement, and Long-Term Sustainability

Long-term sustainability, meet short-term sales.  Audience engagement on Social Media merges the goals of customer retention and customer acquisition.


Social Media – the diverse spectrum of user sites including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest – has evolved into a powerful business tool for cementing sustainable and personal relationships with customers.  Used by businesses as a promotional medium to drive sales, Social Media has a big impact.  The bigger impact, though, may be achieved by businesses which use Social Media as a platform to develop a long-term relationship with their customers and all their stakeholders.  The focus is on building sustainability based on audience engagement and customer loyalty.  The ROI has a longer payback time-line, but the result is a more defensible business model with higher-value customers, higher customer retention rates, and higher long-term profitability.

More than two billion people have active Social Media accounts[1], and every day the internet lights ups with 500 million Tweets[2], 4.5 billion likes on Facebook[3], and 95 million photos and videos uploaded onto Instagram[4]. Every. Day.  Following are eight ways to leverage this prodigious activity to benefit your business.

  • Obtain customer insights: With every use of Social Media, customers are disclosing who they are, what they like, and, if invited to, how they value your product, service, or brand. These data points provide insights and direction for determining product preferences, buying/shopping habits, brand allegiances, and how to earn the loyalty and ongoing patronage of your customers.
  • Enhance brand awareness and loyalty: Social Media enables your customers to connect with you on their terms.  A study by The Social Habit concluded that 53 percent of consumers who follow brands on Social Media demonstrate more loyalty to those brands[5].

The value of Social Media as a tool to reinforce customer engagement, retention, and loyalty is the main driver.  But consider the role that Social media plays in how consumers discover, research, and share information about brands and products.  The Nielsen/McKinsey company reports that 60 percent of consumers researching products through multiple online sources learned about a specific brand or retailer through social networking sites. Active social media users are more likely to read product reviews online, and 3 out of 5 create their own reviews of products and services. 81% of women and 72% of men tell others about products that they like[6]. Consumer-generated reviews and product ratings are the most preferred sources of product information among social media users. These are statistics which point at the power of Social Media as a customer acquisition tool.

  • Provide customer service: More than two-thirds of consumers report using social media for customer service activities. They expect fast response times and 24/7/365 support. A study by Aberdeen Group revealed that companies providing customer service on Social Media sites experienced annual financial increases at a rate more than double those without a customer service option provided on Social Media.
  • Funnel customers to your website: One of the most significant benefits of maintaining a robust presence on Social Media is to direct people to your website. The more social media shares you receive, the higher your search ranking will be… a positive feedback loop that serves as a kind of organic search engine optimizer (SEO).
  • Target content and ads: Geo-targeting is a powerful mechanism to distribute brand and product messages to a specific audience based on location (including countries or demographic parameters). On Facebook, for instance, you can target location, demographics, interests, behaviors, and connections. And importantly, these platforms facilitate the tracking and measuring of the performance of ads in real time so learnings can be applied in a rapid-response fashion.
  • Build relationships: Social Media is not a one-way channel of communications. Social Media represent an opportunity to foster and sustain high levels of audience engagement in ways that traditional advertising and promotion never could. Marketers’ mindsets should be about dialogue, give-and-take interaction, and continuous experimentation. The unilateral broadcasting paradigms associated with traditional media do not transfer well to Social Media.
  • Sell softly: The Social Media audience does not want to be constantly on the receiving end of advertising and promotion. They are seeking connection, conversation, affiliation – even with the commercial relationships that define their consumer personas. The Social Media Examiner, a worldwide digital marketing organization, advocates the 70-20-10 rule: 70% of your content should be information that is relevant to your customers with little or no commercial agenda, 20% should be content from other providers, and 10% can be sales and promotion oriented. When selling, be certain to include discounts, coupons, limited-time opportunities, and new releases. Some things never change!
  • Act as an industry resource:  Consistently providing the type of information (tips, advice, recommendations) your audience has an interest in produces a reputation as a trusted industry resource.  The “likes,” “shares,” and positive word of mouth will contribute to your commercial objectives.  Curating excellent content – regardless of the source – will add value to your platform, and users will be more receptive to your own content without perceiving it as disguised selling.

References
[1] https://www.statista.com/topics/1164/social-networks/
[2] http://www.internetlivestats.com/twitter-statistics/
[3] https://zephoria.com/top-15-valuable-facebook-statistics/
[4] https://blog.hootsuite.com/instagram-statistics/
[5] http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-research/53-percent-of-americans-who-follow-brands-in-social-are-more-loyal-to-those-brands/

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Synopsis

Français
Réseaux sociaux, engagement de l’auditoire et durabilité à long terme Plus de deux milliards de personnes ont des comptes actifs dans les réseaux sociaux et, chaque jour, Internet s’allume avec 500 millions de Tweets, 4,5 milliards de « j’aime » sur Facebook, et 95 millions de photos et vidéos téléchargées sur Instagram. À chaque utilisation des réseaux sociaux, les clients divulguent qui ils sont, ce qu’ils aiment et, s’ils y sont invités, la manière dont ils évaluent votre produit, service ou marque. Ces données fournissent des idées et des orientations pour déterminer les préférences concernant les produits, les habitudes d’achat/de shopping, la fidélité envers les marques et comment fidéliser vos clients de manière continue. Elles permettent aussi tenir compte du rôle que jouent les réseaux sociaux dans la façon dont les consommateurs découvrent, recherchent et partagent des informations sur les marques et les produits. 60 % des consommateurs qui recherchent des produits à travers de multiples sources en ligne ont découvert une marque ou un détaillant spécifique grâce aux sites de réseaux sociaux. Les utilisateurs actifs de réseaux sociaux sont plus susceptibles de lire les avis au sujet de produits en ligne, et 3 sur 5 écrivent leurs propres critiques de produits et services. 81 % des femmes et 72 % des hommes parlent aux autres des produits qu’ils aiment. Les commentaires et les évaluations produits des consommateurs sont les sources d’information sur les produits les plus privilégiées parmi les utilisateurs des réseaux sociaux. Ce sont des statistiques qui mettent en valeur la puissance des réseaux sociaux comme outils pour attirer la clientèle. Un des avantages les plus importants de maintenir une forte présence sur les réseaux sociaux est de diriger les gens vers votre site Internet. Plus vous recevez de partages sur les réseaux sociaux, plus votre classement de recherche deviendra… une boucle de rétroaction positive fonctionnant comme un type d’optimiseur de moteur de recherche (Search Engine Optimizer, SEO) organique. L’esprit marketing doit être axé sur le dialogue, l’interaction mutuelle et l’expérimentation continue. Les paradigmes unilatéraux de la radiodiffusion associés aux médias traditionnels ne se transmettent pas bien aux réseaux sociaux. Heureusement. Fournir constamment le type d’information (astuces, conseils, recommandations) auquel votre public porte un intérêt confère une réputation de ressource de confiance dans le secteur. Les « j’aime », les « partage » et le bouche à oreille positif contribueront à vos objectifs commerciaux.
Español
Redes sociales, implicación del público y sostenibilidad a largo plazo Más de dos mil millones de personas tienen cuentas activas en las redes sociales. Cada día, Internet se ilumina con 500 millones de tweets, 4 mil millones y medio de “me gusta” en Facebook y 95 millones de vídeos y fotos subidos a Instagram. Con cada interacción en redes sociales los clientes muestran quiénes son, qué les gusta y, si se les invita a ello, cómo valoran su producto, servicio o marca. La información y dirección que proporcionan estos datos determinan las preferencias de producto, los hábitos de compra, la lealtad a las marcas y la forma de ganar esta lealtad y conseguir una clientela fiel. Pero también ha de considerarse el papel que juegan las redes sociales para que el consumidor descubra, investigue y comparta información sobre marcas y productos. El 60 por ciento de los consumidores que investigaron sobre productos en distintas fuentes online conoció a una marca o minorista específico a través de sitios de interacción social. Los usuarios activos de redes sociales son más propensos a leer reseñas de productos online, y 3 de cada 5 escriben sus propias reseñas de productos y servicios. El 81 % de las mujeres y el 72 % de los hombres hablan con los demás sobre los productos que les gustan. Las reseñas creadas por consumidores y las puntuaciones de producto son las fuentes de información preferidas por los usuarios de redes sociales. Existen estadísticas que señalan el poder de las redes sociales como herramienta de adquisición de clientes. Una de las ventajas más significativas de mantener una presencia robusta en las redes sociales es la de dirigir a la gente a su página web. Cuantas más personas compartan su contenido web en las redes sociales, más subirá su marca en los resultados de búsqueda… un bucle de opinión positivo que consigue la optimización en los motores de búsqueda (SEO) de forma orgánica. El especialista en marketing ha de tener una actitud dialogante, interactuar de forma recíproca y experimentar constantemente. Los paradigmas de comunicación unidireccional que se asocian a los medios tradicionales no funcionan bien en las redes sociales. Por suerte. Ofrecer a su público información interesante para ellos (consejos, trucos, recomendaciones) de forma coherente consigue posicionarle como una fuente de confianza y reputada en el sector. Los “me gusta”, el contenido compartido y el boca a boca positivo contribuyen a sus objetivos comerciales.
Deutsch
Social Media, Publikumsengagement und langfristige Nachhaltigkeit Mehr als zwei Milliarden Menschen haben aktive Social-Media-Konten, und jeden Tag pulsiert das Internet mit 500 Millionen Tweets, 4,5 Milliarden „Likes“ auf Facebook und 95 Millionen Fotos und Videos, die auf Instagram hochgeladen werden. Mit jedem Einsatz von Social Media legen Kunden offen, wer sie sind, was sie wollen, und, wenn sie dazu eingeladen werden, welchen Wert sie auf Ihre Produkte, Services oder Marken legen. Diese Datenpunkte geben Einsichten und Orientierung für die Bestimmung von Produktpräferenzen, Kauf‑/Einkaufsgewohnheiten, Markenverpflichtungen sowie die Gewinnung der Treue und fortwährenden Unterstützung Ihrer Kunden. Aber bedenken Sie auch die Rolle, die Social Media darin spielt, wie Verbraucher Informationen über Marken und Produkte entdecken, erkunden und miteinander teilen. 60 Prozent der Verbraucher, die Produkte durch mehrere Online-Quellen erforschen, haben über soziale Netzwerke mehr über eine bestimmte Marke oder einen bestimmten Händler gelernt. Aktive Social-Media-Nutzer neigen eher dazu, Produktbewertungen online zu lesen, und 3 von 5 Nutzern geben auch eigene Bewertungen zu Produkten und Dienstleistungen ab. 81 % der Frauen und 72 % der Männer erzählen anderen von Produkten, die ihnen gefallen. Rezensionen und Produktbewertungen von Verbrauchern sind die am häufigsten aufgesuchten Quellen für Produktinformationen unter Social-Media-Nutzern. Dies sind Statistiken, die auf die Macht von Social Media als Kundenakquisitionstool hinweisen. Einer der wichtigsten Vorteile einer robusten Präsenz auf Social Media liegt darin, Menschen auf Ihre Website zu leiten. Je mehr Social-Media-Shares Sie erhalten, desto höher wird Ihr Suchmaschinen-Ranking sein… eine positive Feedback-Schleife, die als eine Art natürlicher Suchmaschinen-Optimierer (search engine optimizer, SEO) dient. Die Denkweise von Vermarktern sollte sich mit Dialogen, Geben-und-Nehmen-Interaktionen und kontinuierlichen Experimenten befassen. Die einseitigen Sendeparadigmen, die mit traditionellen Medien assoziiert werden, lassen sich nicht gut auf Social Media übertragen. Zum Glück. Die konsistente Bereitstellung genau der Art von Informationen (Tipps, Ratschläge, Empfehlungen), an denen Ihr Publikum Interesse hat, verschafft Ihnen einen Ruf als vertrauenswürdige Branchenressource. Die „Likes“, „Shares“ und positive Mundpropaganda werden zu Ihren kommerziellen Zielen beitragen.

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