Customer relationships are a two-way street that cannot be dictated by brands, anymore. Just ten years ago Mad Men type campaign managers could carefully craft three campaigns per quarter and dispense them to targeted audiences; but that’s because ten years ago LinkedIn, TripAdvisor, Yelp, and other social sites didn’t exist. Today, your customer expects constant contact on their terms, and if you fail to respond promptly they’ll defect.
According to HubSpot, 95% of millennial customers expect brands to have a Facebook presence. Pew Research reported that this is the year when millennials will finally overtake baby boomers as the largest population segment, which means that brands can’t afford to ignore their expectations. In other words, if you don’t have a Facebook page, 25% of your potential customer base is already disappointed. While smaller brands make the excuse that they don’t have the manpower to respond to social posts 24/7, consumers don’t care (or even know) about these limitations; they simply expect great service.
Oracle found that 81% of consumers expect a same-day response on sites like Twitter (and 42% expect it within the hour). Yet, Maritz & Evolve found that 70% of customer experience complaints go unanswered on Twitter. That customer discontent is a great opportunity to stand apart from your competitors and wow disengaged consumers by simply interacting.
“By responding or interacting with comments or messages on social media you not only build unique relationships but also develop the personality and image of your brand as being one that cares for individuals and takes the time to respond personally. Again, this demonstrates that business is now a two-way street. Customers not only want to feel important, but also listened-to and relevant,” an Axonn Media white paper found.
The opportunity to reach fans and customers online has not gone unnoticed by leading brands: earlier this year Bloomberg reported that digital ad spend will match TV spending by 2019. Unlike TV and radio ads, digital ads allow immediate customer engagement opportunities that enrich the experience for consumers who are eager to comment and advocate. Although that does require brands to staff-up, there is an ROI; 70% of users report a more positive brand perception after viewing a brand’s content online, and brands that generate 15 blogs per month enjoy an average of 1200 more sales leads per month, according to State of Inbound Marketing and Axonn Media white papers.
While Bain found that 40% of luxury brands like Monocle, Rolex, and Chanel attire worry that social posting will dilute their value and overexpose elite products, other luxury brands like Hermès have found ways to engage customers without selling core goods online. Hermès utilizes social channels to educate consumers, share news about museum collaborations and inspirations, and to entertain and add value through a Silk Knots app that teaches consumers new styling ideas for products. They have created an online customer experience that is aligned with their brick-and-mortar store branding, but it’s also easily digestible for mobile and online users.
Like Hermès, Burberry has crafted a unique experience for each social channel, utilizing musical inspirations for Facebook and behind-the-scenes information on Instagram. Instead of focusing on online sales, Burberry understands that its audience craves inspiration, insights, and fashion tips. Their online customer experience adds to in-store branding, enriching their overall messaging. A few months ago SGEi did a case study on Burberry, reporting on the cultural pivot that improved their customer experience in stores, as well as online. Evidence of their success is everywhere, from Twitter to storefronts.
By being present and wisely tailoring their social experiences for their audiences, Burberry and Hermès have increased their authority, prestige, and fan following. In my next blog, “Social Pangaea: Developing a Customer Experience that Unites Your Brand Across Channels,” I’ll discuss how to tailor each social channel for your brand in a way that captivates fans on every channel and unites branding as a part of your company culture. A culture, which our VP of Learning & Culture Thomas Martin pointed out in his last blog, already exists whether you’re intentionally shaping it or not.