Social media is a versatile weapon in every brand’s arsenal. While “customer is king” is age-old wisdom, social media allows brands plenty of ways to make the conversation all about the consumer. You can keep your customers in the loop about what your brand is up to, listen to what their interests are, and attend to complaints they may have.
Taking the consumer into account is not purely a customer service objective. It runs through all aspects of branding, including marketing, sales, and product development. Zappos, which holds the reputation for being a stickler for customer care goes as far as to say, “We believe that customer service shouldn’t be just a department, it should be the entire company.”
Yet, this priority sometimes gets lost in pushing your product to the audience. Catering to the needs of the consumer is not at odds with popularizing your product.
Moreover, it is only by appealing to your consumers that you can get them interested in what you have to say, and thereby what you have to sell. Even those who think that the present obsession with customer loyalty is overrated stress on the importance of ensuring a smooth customer experience. By highlighting the relevance and superiority of your brand, you can bet that consumers will pick you over others.
Here are four ways in which you can use social media to significantly improve your consumer experience:
The first step towards prioritizing your customers is to know them better. This involves understanding what will make them pause and take note of something you have to say. Social media is a treasure trove of data about consumer habits.
Once you have a clear picture of who your target audience is, you can zero in on their social media habits. You can then create content that is relevant to that demographic. Also, you can ensure that this reaches the target audience. For instance, you can narrow down the geographical location, interests etc. of the people who get to see your Facebook Posts.
Social media listening tools are a great asset in this regard. They help you keep an ear out on what people are saying about your brand. You can also stay in the loop of what people think about your competitors. The insights you get this way can be used to tailor your product to meet the requirements of your target audience.
There are several examples of brands that have gained insight into their consumers’ take on their product using social listening. Most of us are familiar with Domino’s changing its pizza crust recipe based on direct feedback from their customers on social media. When whiskey brand Maker’s Mark announced the move to reduce the alcohol content in their drinks, their fans and followers vehemently protested. And they listened!
Forums like Quora and LinkedIn groups are also opportunities for you to stay updated on conversations that involve your product. If your product can provide a solution to a problem that someone has raised, doing so can bring in quality leads. Your active participation in such discussions adds to your credibility as a thought leader.
Listening helps you frame the solution you provide better. If you learn that people have been complaining about the lack of a certain function in your competitor's product, you can highlight that your product has this particular feature. Listening ensures that you stand out in places where your potential consumers look.
2. Be data driven
One of the truly great things about social media is that it is a treasure trove of data. It is possible for marketers to get data on all aspects of a consumer's social media use. You can find out what people search for, how long they watch a video, the timing that gets you the best engagement, and so on. You can leverage this data to provide the most relevant content to your customers.
This is a win-win situation. Your content creation and ideation energies are not a shot in the dark. This boost to efficiency is shared by your customer as well. They do not have to wade through content that is uninteresting to them.
Data also allows you to perfect consumer experience. You can easily gauge the sentiments of your consumers from their responses to your posts. This is feedback that you can use to create content that truly interests your fans/followers. You can also reach out to consumers who require assistance.
Playboy’s decision to pull nudes from their content was informed by such an approached. They made this decision based on customer feedback and the success of their SFW (safe for work) lifestyle section. In the social media world, too, several brands pivot their content strategy depending on what the data shows.
Kanan Devan, a major tea brand in India found out that contrary to popular belief, what got them most engagement was not contests but instead stunning pictures of tea plantations. They were able to leverage this input and provide the most enjoyable social media content for their followers.
What is even more amazing is that the progress you make with improving consumer experience can be measured too. This way you can verify if the methods you currently use work.
3. Provide better, quicker customer service
Brands large and small increasingly use social media for customer service. Customers can tweet/post to brands with complaints they have. The way brands respond makes a marked difference in the way consumers feel about the brand.
A brand that responds quickly and with solutions that are relevant to the question raised have a higher chance of being recommended by users. Efficient responses can convert unhappy consumers to brand loyalists.
By replying to questions and comments your customers may have, you can build a rapport with them. This ensures that they are satisfied with the product and the service. Personalized and timely responses show that the brand cares about their customers and their feedback.
Nordstrom, for instance, replies quicker than an average retail brand from North America. You can expect them to reply to you in 16 minutes or so. As you can see from the chart below, this is a standout performance compared to the industry average of 11 hours.
Nordstrom also ranks high on engagement. The brand receives more Retweets and Favorites than an average retail chain brand from North America. Their prompt responses might be a factor here as well.
4. Encourage consumer interactions
Getting your consumers to share their experience using their product is a great way of getting quality feedback. The opinion your customers share might mean more to a potential consumer than a rehearsed tagline.
However, one-way conversations do not go all the way in building stellar customer experience. The brand also has to engage with what the customers have to say. You can show that you care by responding to posts that your customers tag you in even if it is not a customer service request.
In order to set the ball rolling, brands often use contests or giveaways. Recent updates such as 360 videos and live videos can be integrated into this as well. Live videos, in particular, are a great way to show the human side of your brand and invite responses from your consumers.
A brand that goes the extra mile in this regard is Huggies. The brand replies to users who tweet with hashtags such as #NewMommy, #momlife, etc. Take a look at this conversation for instance:
Such consistent interactions with your target community cement your brand as a caring friend you can relate to.
With the amount of time that people spend on social media channels rising every year, every facet of day-to-day life has to find a social media counterpart. It is impossible to neglect caring for your customer experience on social media. As much as social media forces modern day marketers into a tight embrace, it also provides valuable tools that make their jobs easier. With consistent monitoring of social media conversations that your brand has a stake in, you can enrich the customer experience.
Lakshmanan (Lux) Narayan is the CEO and co-founder of Unmetric, the social media intelligence company. This article was put together using Discover to identify high-performing content. Infusionsoft readers can get a four-week trial of Discover here.