Social is a critical channel in today’s marketing landscape. According to We Are Social’s “Digital in 2017” report, global social media use has increased by 21% in the last year alone and now reaches 2.8 billion users globally. That means 37% of the world’s population are active social media users.
Social provides a unique opportunity for businesses to unify how their customers experience their brands, especially considering how fragmented a customer journey can be today. A customer’s journey doesn’t always neatly follow a defined path, making it difficult for organizations to deliver consistently on their brand promise. And the speed of technology change has influenced customers’ demands for real-time, personalized interactions by the methods they prefer.
Organizations must be prepared to service these expectations across digital channels—and the ones that do will edge out their competitors. According to Forrester, customer experience leaders grow revenue faster than customer experience laggards.
But you already know this.
What’s challenging is making this promised land a reality. We are entering a new era of customer experience disrupted by changing technology and made more challenging by internal organizational resistance. Brands must scale unified experiences to drive real business results—and the opportunity to do so lies in social media. Social can be woven throughout the organization—through marketing, sales, and customer support—to enable human connections at scale.
As marketing leaders look to deliver a unified customer experience with social, keep these five tips in mind:
1. Set a vision: Forrester predicts that in 2018, the CMO role will evolve to become the chief growth officer. This shift begins with setting a vision of customer obsession across the organization. Align the company around the customer and reorganize teams to deliver exceptional customer experiences. All the business decisions you make should be in service of addressing customer needs. Set a customer-obsessed example in your leadership for your organization to follow.
2. Listen to customers: The first step to building a strong relationship with customers is listening. Today’s customers are vocal, and their willingness to provide honest feedback can deliver a wealth of operational and organizational insights. Social media gives organizations a unique opportunity to tap into rich data on who your customers are and what they want. Social data can vastly enrich the customer intelligence available from focus groups and surveys, bringing you the unvarnished truth at scale. Be comfortable letting the customer lead you. They will bring your organization to new heights.
3. Train and trust employees: Equip employees with the training and education to deliver your brand promise on social media. Organization-wide social media training gives your employees the skills and confidence to deliver great customer experiences on social. Don’t limit training to the marketing department; all employees who interact with customers can tap into the power of social to deliver better experiences, gather valuable data, and become brand ambassadors.
4. Unlock the value of social data: Technology and data are the key to creating unified customer experiences at scale. Yet integrating social media technology with your existing technology stack, aggregating massive amounts of data from social, and consolidating multiple data sources into a single view of the customer remain challenging for many marketers. Altimeter cites data complexity as a barrier to articulating the value of social media. And it’s not just obtaining data. Extracting usable insights from social data was identified as a top challenge in Hootsuite’s report on social media trends for 2018.
The solution is to start small. Treat social data as a valuable source of customer intelligence to help improve aspects of the customer experience. Begin with the data you can access, use it to inform your customer experience strategy, and build on your capability over time. Then unleash the value of social data to drive other business objectives, like product innovation and operational efficiency.
5. Deliver customer-centric content: Customer experience is about delivering value when, where, and how the customer needs it. Create content that is meaningful to customers in the formats they prefer—which increasingly include images and video. Audiences are 10 times more likely to engage and share social video posts, and there are whole platforms dedicated to visual content. With 3.2 billion images shared on social every day and social video consumption growing year over year, competition to stand out from the noise is fierce. Create an integrated strategy to deliver high-quality content as demand increases. Make sure the tools you use give creative and marketing teams the ability to share their content in ways that maximize reach and engagement so you get the most out of your investment in content.
Meet your customers on the channels they’re using. Use social data to better understand their needs and deliver great experiences throughout their journey. By aligning your organization’s structure and strategy with the way modern customers experience a brand, you’ll unlock the power of human connection at scale.