Everyone always hears me tout how brands must engage, connect and understand customers in order to reap the benefits of social.
So, imagine my surprise when I read the results of our new study of 85 brands across 8 verticals that found most brands are failing to truly engage.
We found that most brands are stuck in broadcast mode, leaving customer posts unanswered, and are not engaging customers across all the right digital channels.
In fact, the State of Social Engagement 2016 study found that:
95% of brands’ social strategies are stuck in antiquated “broadcast” mode
Only 2% of brands consistently respond to their customers’ online posts
Less than 40% of brands ever ask questions of their followers or engage with follower content
The good news is that the study helped us identify 6 Key Findings on what brands need to do now to stay ahead.
Download The State of Social Engagement study to read the 6 key findings and see how you stack up against competitors and your industry.
Enough is Enough: A Manifesto for Social Media Marketing
6 Steps to Achieve a Data-Driven Social Marketing Strategy
The 3 A's Behind Your Social Marketing Strategy
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Apple is lucky to have such experts showing the way. You two are sensational at what you do and I wonder sometimes if Apple will benefit from everyone's early struggles to deliver on this social customer service with everyone else's wisdom!
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There was a time not so long ago when the entire concept of social was so shiny and new that many marketers just jumped at the opportunity to get in on it in some way. Even if they had no idea what kind of return on investment would be associated with it – or much less by which metrics and benchmarks they could effectively and accurately deem a social success vs. failure.
But as tends to be the case, what once is shiny and new eventually loses its “of the moment” luster and, essentially, has to grow up or come into its own. That’s precisely what I’m seeing happening across all things social today. We’ve reached a saturation point whereby brands can no longer just say “We do social,” and be done with it. Now, those responsible for the social media strategy within their business are finding themselves on the proverbial hot seat, being asked specific questions, from everyone from the C-suite down, about what success looks like.
At Lithium, our clients have expressed to us over the years a very clear need to better and more consistently quantify what success looks like in terms of engagement, customer satisfaction, community experience, cost savings, and so on.
They also need to know how they’re doing relative to their industry peers to ensure they’re always maintaining a competitive advantage.
For too long, the industry has had a lack of clarity around social, making it harder and harder for marketers to justify making investments in their communities. In fact, many brands continue to struggle with directly tying social media ROI to business results, making it that much more of an uphill battle to build a business case around social media marketing programs.
That being said, I still firmly believe most business leaders understand that there is value in social. Though, ever so slowly, they are starting to lose faith because they haven’t received quantifiable measures of success that make it easier for them to get on board. For example, less than a third of marketing executives are actually satisfied in the value that branded social accounts bring to the business. And even more startling, in many cases, less than 50 percent of social media practitioners – those who manage a brand’s day-to-day social efforts – see this value as well. This should be a wake-up call.
The question for everyone involved in anything to do with social, especially as budgets get tight and marketing programs become increasingly scrutinized, is about clearly understanding what (potential) impact a community can have on both the top and bottom line of a business. Business leaders want and need hard data, real metrics, and rich insights that show when a strategy is working – and they want this information to resonate across all parts of the business (hint, hint: not just marketing!).
A recent study by Forrester further proves that this question around measurement has been the top challenge for social marketers for over a decade – with 53 percent of respondents surveyed agreeing that measuring the performance of social profiles is what keeps them up at night.
What this tells me is one thing: social needs to grow up. The days of “fluff” metrics are over. We need to measure marketing benefits, like brand awareness and engagement, just as much as we need to quantify key performance indicators such as customer satisfaction, lifetime value, and share of voice as well as sales metrics (tied to social) like conversion rate, leads generated, and cost per acquisition. The social ecosystem is basically one big, growing puzzle. Now, it’s up to all of us to finally bring all the pieces together and make some sense of it.
When that happens, I think we’ll see a fundamental shift in how businesses perceive and support social efforts moving forward. But first, we’ve got to make sure social plays by the same rules as other parts of the business. Once we level the playing field, social will finally have its rightful (and essential) seat at the table.
This article originally appeared in SocialTimes.
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Over a year ago, Lithium fielded research around the topic of extreme customer expectations – uncovering some very real “truths” about consumer culture, online influence, and customer loyalty that have continued to prove themselves many times over.
This popped back into my head recently while I was reading about Amazon’s battle with fake online reviews . Metrics supporting the power and impact of “word of mouth” on influencing purchase decisions really stood out to me from the research. In fact, among those surveyed, the vast majority of respondents – well above 60% across a number of countries – confirm that they would not even consider purchasing something that wasn’t accompanied by positive online reviews.
It wasn’t surprising, then, to understand why a small group of sellers on Amazon would apparently pay people to post positive reviews about their products, whether or not those pseudo-reviewers had actually ever used them. Obviously, all brands want a good review. But at what cost?
What makes word-of-mouth influence so unique is the trust – or perceived trust that’s automatically built into it. When someone reads a review, the assumption is that the reviewer did so with good intentions. In other words, to help others make decisions about products or services that they are contemplating purchasing.
But that bubble of good intentions bursts when it becomes clear that those reviews we’ve grown to rely on are completely false. It actually changes the entire dynamic of the role that reviews play within the broader purchasing journey. It has the potential to create a serious domino effect. After all, if a review can’t be trusted, what’s the point of having reviews in the first place? Even more, what kind of negative halo effect does it create for the vast majority of honest, genuine, and trustworthy reviews that fill our communities?
So how can brands overcome this? For me, it’s an easy answer: a trusted reputation. At Lithium, we have a tremendous amount of data from our 450+ branded communities and of course, the Klout Score, which together help us determine who is real online, and more importantly, identify what real expertise they have in the areas where they are providing reviews or social commentary.
This is a big deal, especially in today’s digitally-saturated world where many relationships and transactions are happening anonymously. Both the Lithium Profile and the Klout Score are powerful tools for how we engage with customers. This in turn helps instill a greater degree of confidence in those conversations that are happening online. As an industry, brands need to continuously strive to collect and curate more quality data around this word-of-mouth ecosystem, so we can provide both consumers and our business customers who sell to them with the most reliable and trustworthy content possible.
For example, at Lithium, we do this via our Rank and Reputation Engine – where we can dynamically recognize user contributions within a community and help brands regularly provide incentives to keep those active users participating. The idea is simple: the more a user contributes to a community, the more rewards they receive for their helpful contributions, which in turn not only raises their “rank” within the community, but also their “reputation” as a trusted contributor as a result of their elevated rank. It’s the engine that makes our user generated content (UGC) a trusted content source.
Trust is priceless. As a brand, you either have it or you don’t. If you are paying people to leave positive reviews in an attempt to make your brand look better or more favorable in consumers’ eyes, you’re already on shaky ground. The cost of that fake online review could be fairly significant in the long-term.
Volkswagen’s recent scandal around installing defective devices to avoid issues related to emissions testing is a perfect example of how challenging the power of consumer trust can easily translate into a brand’s speedy demise. The automaker lost around 30% o f its market value – and likely an even greater amount of consumer trust within minutes of the news breaking. This will take years and millions of dollars to rebuild.
Long story short. Word-of-mouth is powerful, but only when it’s honest and real. Brands must be the best stewards of authenticity and credibility in their communities to keep the conversation alive and thriving.
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