The brand-consumer relationship is evolving, resulting in closer, informal, and instant interactions between shoppers and brands. Social media is at the center of this evolution, as consumers look for more customer service and authentic interactions. As such, massive upgrades in social media technology reflect this shift in how consumers engage with businesses online. Brands need to offer meaningful experiences that will translate to positive brand lift, traffic to their sites and stores – and, ultimately, increased sales.
Customers today connect with brands on social media in more sophisticated ways than the simple “like” or comment of yesteryear. Gone are the days when promoting across channels constituted sufficient social presence. Instead, today’s successful brands build relationships with social followers and meet consumers where they are – with the help of emerging technologies. For example, an ecommerce brand looking to acquire customers and sell products can now leverage social channels to achieve these goals, including creating engaging content, interacting real-time with consumers, and serving various ads to target markets, making social an effective channel to grow sales.
ClassPass, for example, interacts with followers and commenters in real time:
To make this type of interaction scalable, tools like messenger bots and sponsored posts that start conversations on click, coupled with updated social algorithms, inspire even more involved engagement. Businesses are striving to find the balance between automation and personalization to get ahead. At the same time, social networks recognize the need for brands to connect their content to measurable actions, including product sales. Pinterest and Instagram have debuted shoppable content, which allows brands to make posts curated from their product catalogs, with a call to action and ability for browsing customers to seamlessly check out products, like this example from Barnes & Noble:
Additionally, platforms like Instagram now encourage influencers to work with brands transparently, leading to new ways for customers to receive product recommendations and make buying decisions. This creates a social landscape where the quality of customer connection reigns over the quantity of followers. And, brands that show up when and how consumers need them most win.
Conversely, the risk brands run by neglecting to participate in new social innovations is multifaceted. When reluctant to explore and invest in social technology, businesses miss opportunities to find invested fans, who will purchase and become a part of their journey once engaged. Next, without this responsiveness, businesses may lose not only individual conversions but may also miss what these interactions teach about their ideal audience on a larger scale. Whether followers reach out to compliment or complain, it is imperative that brands respond and reflect on any insights gained.
Finally, if competitors use emerging technology effectively, they’ll have an edge over businesses that don’t take advantage of social media as a customer service tool. Capitalizing on consumer data from bots, messenger, and social stores – as opposed to traditional posts alone – can make a world of difference. Brands can also use social innovation to reach audiences they have not previously considered. For example, leveraging user-generated content to engage with new target audiences can build brand affinity and trust with relevant shoppers and drive product interest, website traffic, and conversions.
The next challenge brands face is translating social effort – branding campaigns, chat, and community engagement, user-generated content, reviews, and video content – into measurable results. At this point, most companies know they need to invest in social, but choosing tactics, determining channel mix, allocating ad spend, engaging the right audiences, and understanding data are required to be strategic and drive ROI.
At Adlucent, we do just that – help brands launch, track and optimize advertising across social channels with a performance-based approach that maximizes ROI. This begins with a detailed advertising strategy, including custom audience creation using proprietary datasets; a scientific approach to scalable, efficient account architecture; healthy, optimized product catalogs; and detailed analysis of campaigns to guarantee performance goals.
For one ecommerce client challenged with achieving year-over-year revenue goals and driving profitable social performance, Adlucent increased revenue by 142% and drove a 30% lift in new customers by enhancing their product catalog, rebuilding their Facebook/Instagram advertising account, and launching new ad types with relevant creative for target audiences.
With 30% of time spent on social, and networks introducing more ecommerce-centric features, we’re entering an era of social shopping. Brands should explore social technologies that drive their business and reevaluate their advertising strategy to capitalize on these investments. As ecommerce becomes more native through conversational commerce, multi-channel marketing, and selling, as well as immersive online shopping experiences, now is the time to foster brand loyalty and influence every interaction with shoppers. Brands that evolve and leverage social media advancements will find themselves with stronger relationships, better data, and the chance to turn knowledge into profitability.