It’s official. Social media has become the primary medium for customer engagement, according to a recent Harris Poll. More than 70% of businesses use social media to connect with customers and prospects. Email is used 61% of the time. TV/radio advertisement is used by 27% of businesses and 24% of businesses attempt to connect with customers through print ads.
There’s a good reason why social media has climbed to the top of the marketing mountain. 35% of consumers surveyed by Harris reported that social media is the primary medium they use to learn about new products, services and brands. The survey found an overwhelming majority of business owners believe that having a strong social media presence is essentially for success.
Having a strong presence, however, does not necessarily guarantee success. There’s a gap between presence and engagement, notes Luxury Marketing’s Pam Danzinger. Unity Marketing’s most recent “State of Luxury” study found that only 34% of luxury company executives believe Instagram is very effective and that was the highest rated social media platform. Only 23% of businesses believe they get an adequate return from Facebook,
The limited effectiveness of social media to promote brands and prompt engagement is reflected in other similar surveys regardless of business size or budget. Why the disconnect between customers use of social media to learn about brands and products and return businesses receive from their social media efforts? The answer is expectations.
Most companies expect their social media activities to result in consumers visiting their websites, purchasing online or visiting brick and mortar stores. They use the same techniques to measure ROI for social media as they do for other advertising mediums. The shortcoming of this approach is that consumers don’t view social media as advertising or marketing messages. They don’t want to be sold. Instead they want to be engaged. They want a social experience similar to interactions with family and friends. Consumers view Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, et. al. as communication and information platforms.
Consider a television, radio or print magazine ad. They take consumers’ attention away from what they are viewing to capture attention and try to make sales. They interrupt consumers without asking for permission. Social media users don’t want to be interrupted or if they do, they want to make sure that the brand has asked for their permission to do so. The main difference is that consumers control the conversation and the brand, not the other way around that is commonplace with traditional advertising.
Social media is a long-term strategy, not one where you can measure an immediate or even short-term ROI. Successful social media efforts attempt to create friendships with consumers with the return coming later. Effective social media provides content in the way consumers want to receive it. That’s why video has become an increasingly effective tool for engagement.
Social media is not static. It’s dynamic. It requires immediate responses to consumer questions and service requests. It’s personal. You need to deliver the same type of experience on Instagram or Facebook that you deliver when a customer walks into your showroom. And that requirement is likely to become more important in the future. Nearly 60% of consumers surveyed stated that they prefer to interact with brands on social media instead of in a brick and mortar store. The reason is control. Consumers believe they are more in control of a conversation and message on social media than in a store.