Ep42: Serious Social – From first date to wedded bliss

With so many brands on social these days, there are few barriers to accessing customers on digital and brand loyalty is disappearing in a world of distraction. But it doesn’t have to be this way. In this week’s Serious Social, Katy Howell will be talking about how to build, long term, one to one relationships, at scale on social and make 2021 a year of growth.

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Full Transcript

Welcome to the Serious Social podcast, created by the straight-talking social media experts at immediate future.

Marketing has been thrown in the air since March last year. We’ve pivoted. We’ve done more with less. And we’ve set and reset goals. It has meant short-term planning, and for many brands, a laser-like focus on acquisition and sales.

For many companies this has meant dialling-up social. The low barrier to entry, has seen everyone from start-ups to traditional companies reach for the same goal on the same channels. There’s been a big uptick in D2C pivots and new brands launching on social; and a dash to get sales teams chatting on LinkedIn and plethora of webinars and virtual events. There’s an overwhelming competition for attention.

And audiences, whether consumer or B2B, have become fickle and unfaithful. They flit from one company to the next, overwhelmed by choice. Customers are more cynical, less trustful, and looking for the deal, the next new, or the next impulse purchase.

Brands have to work harder and harder at acquisition to compensate for this churn. It’s a vicious circle as they rush from first date to first date with every customer they can reach. So how can marketers solve the problem and continue to deliver growth for their businesses?

Alongside acquisition, it’s time to have a strategy for retention, repeat purchase and building loyalty. It makes sense when you think about it. Sustained growth will come from securing a loyal customer base, whilst adding new customers. Increasing customer retention by just 5% boosts profits by 25% to 95%. It’s a lot less exhausting too.

Mark Ritson calls this approach Bothism. It’s a Qual AND quant approach; both strategy AND creative segmentation. Both targeting AND mass marketing. This is how you scale social. You do both reach and acquisition, whilst segmenting and being relevant.

The key to your strategy lies in the changing behaviours of our audiences. Recent Brandwatch insight highlights the point. Social data shows 2021 New Year’s resolutions have switched from the typical no-booze and diet goals, to resolutions to see more of Family and Friends and learn and read more. They’re craving community and connections. There’s a passion for learning and self-development. And therein lies the opportunity to make better audience connection, engage with prospects and customers in a more personal, human and empathetic way.  A chance to engender loyalty, that creates a relationship that is more personal.

I don’t mean loyalty rewards programmes or discount campaigns. Those are not nearly deep enough. I am talking about a relationship that goes from first date to wedded bliss. And that takes time. It takes getting to know your audience. It means data insight and thoughtful communications. And as a senior marketer said to me this week, it takes respect for your customer.

So how should you approach your ‘social relationship’ strategy:

Well first off, there are no short cuts. There are no hacks – gah! None of those growth hacker tricks. You don’t get to long fruitful relationships by cheating your way in. Nor can you speed your way through the process. This strategy needs to be long term. Persistent.

So no spamming. No “you may have missed my previous 300 emails, so let me sell to you again”, the dreadful let’s connect because we are in the same network and once connected, let me sell to you immediately regardless of your wants and needs. It is insane at the moment and frustrating to be on the receiving end. I have had so many approaches from Gurus and growth hackers trying to sell me social media services. It is laughable.

Plan for the long term. Consider how you will delight customers. Be useful. Think how you will serve and not sell.

And that starts with getting to know your customers. Social data is your treasure trove. Not just because it helps you stay relevant with trends, but because it reveals the emotions of your audience. Including emotions in your segmentations allows you to be empathetic. Not all your customers feel the same way. And by knowing what matters to different groups, you can adapt your voice and personality to better communicate with them.

Whilst data analysis tools are a must, not everything should be left to the machines. AI and automation help on social, but only with human intervention. There are too many poorly constructed chat bots, too many templated responses and too many schedules left running when bad news breaks – they leave the brand looking insensitive and erode trust. Automation will help you scale, but it is not a substitute for smart social savvy people who can bend and change content and context with trends, news and audience segments.

But beyond being relevant and in context, there is a growing demand for a deeper level of personalisation. According to Salesforce 51% of consumers expect companies to anticipate their needs and provide relevant recommendations. 44% of shoppers made impulse buys after receiving a personalised experience, and 71% expressed some level of frustration with an impersonal shopping experience. The most successful brands are integrating personalisation and data analytics.

What this means in reality is for businesses to get more brand ambassadors connecting with customers on social. To develop processes and training that allows staff to respond, connect and build relationships with buyers. It is about smart workflows across all your channels from email to social, along with a consistent voice. Your aim is to enable social freedom to connect and create relationships on behalf of the brand. And that speaks more to your internal employee care, branding and communications, than it does to just your marketing approach. A good social relationships strategy needs inside out thinking.

We see the impact of this need for personalisation in China, where Live Commerce is a trending format. A combination of ecommerce and live streaming where hosts, often employees, influencers or celebrities, demonstrate a product and answer questions from a digital audience in realtime and viewers can immediately tap or click to buy the items. It’s the personalised shopping experience that goes beyond the chatbot to bring a more visual and personable way to create a brand relationship.

The exponential growth of Live Commerce plays into another trend. After months of interacting online, people are fed-up of clicking. It seems we want what we want in the simplest way possible. Your customers want ease and a frictionless way to continue the content journey or the sale.

Social formats lend themselves to a simple swipe or click to learn more. But I see so many times that a press of a ‘learn more’ button takes me to a page that is nothing like the one I was hoping to see. A dress, or jeans I might buy on impulse, now requires me to sign on, or hunt for the product all over again. I am not the only one who then clicks away having not interacted. Our audiences are being clear about their frustration and bouncing away from the website.

Another interesting trend that shows how our behaviours are changing is in how we are consuming content. When I started in social the sweet spot for blog content was 500-800 words. That is no more. We want snackable content. In other words, complete content in posts that we consume in our feeds – without a click to a blog or website. Or we want deeper content- really informative long form content, written and video, that is worthy of our time. It might be the fact that around the world many people are at home and will take the time to read and watch, or it may be a shift in mindset and a desire for better content.

Finally, your strategy should be about them and not you. How can you make customer’s lives easier or better. Your strategy is to slow things down. Don’t expect to be married the same day as your first date. Take time to get to know your audiences and build trust with value exchanges, useful content, or entertainment. It will lead to more relevant conversations and better customer relationships.

This year you will need a social relationships strategy if you want to make progress. That means creating genuine and personalised interactions. Supporting and serving – not selling and spamming. Take your time, there are no shortcuts or hacks. Instead get to know your audience. Only then will you be able to celebrate lasting wedded bliss.

Thank you for listening today. CJ will be back next Friday with another Serious Social. In the meantime, have a cracking weekend

 

If you’re after more know-how to break the social boring, subscribe now and check out the show notes for links to our website and social profiles.

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