According to two recent studies – one study conducted by CMO Council, and the other study conducted by TNS Global – social media marketers might be missing the mark regarding customer expectations of engaging online with brands. Marketers tend to view social media channels chiefly as platforms on which to win and retain customers through content. To be sure, good content is vital, but social media is, first and foremost, customer turf, and customers, once they follow or like a brand, frequently expect that brand to deliver them specific and tangible opportunities.
The study conducted by TNS Global suggests that customers tend to have conflicting emotions about interacting with brands on social media channels. On one hand, customers express strong feelings about social media being their turf, not business’ turf. On the other hand, customers express appreciation for having brands available on social media channels so they can learn about products and services. So what gives? Do customers want to interact with brands on social media channels, or not?
Strategy is Vital
According to the TNS Global study, many brands fail to leverage a sound social media marketing strategy. Instead, they try to spread themselves across too many online channels, and then they compound the problem with content that isn’t targeted to audiences. Strategy is vital to social media marketing success, and a well-implemented strategy will help your business get attention in a crowded digital marketplace. Many people are suffering from information overload. A sound strategy will make it much more likely that your business’ content will be well-received by the people who are most likely to enjoy it, benefit from it, and engage with it.
The CMO Council study raised an important consideration for brands that are active on social media: once customers have committed to liking or following a brand, they tend to want and expect tangible opportunities and benefits as a reward for having done so. Content, certainly, is part of the equation. But many customers who have opted into your business’ content want to become eligible for specific – and even exclusive – deals and offers. Other tangible benefits that customers expect from interacting with brands across social media channels include the opportunity to engage not just with businesses but with other customers to share recommendations and experiences.
Interaction on Customers’ Terms
Both studies suggest that successful social media marketing campaigns result from remembering that interaction should be on customers’ terms. People active on social media sometimes resent brands that barge in, pushing the hard sell. Rather, when a brand makes itself available across social media channels by providing targeted, quality content according to a coherent online strategy, customers can then enjoy the prospect of opt-in engagement with that brand. Respect is a vital piece of the interaction puzzle. It’s absolutely essential to serving your customers well, whether online or offline.
We’ve blogged about the rise of the social business as a result of increased connectivity in the digital age. People’s motivations and behavior regarding brands across social media channels sends businesses a clear message that social media is customer turf. Smart businesses know that people want to engage with brands, but on customers’ terms. It’s a tricky balance for social media marketers, but balance can be achieved through utilizing sound social media marketing strategy and remaining attentive and responsive to customer expectations.
Photo by Adria Richards on Flickr.com.