Here at Khoros, we have the benefit of working with more than 2,000 global brands on their digital marketing, care, and community strategies, and we’ve aggregated that experience into top trends every brand should know in 2020. Below we share three of these trends — to learn more read the full trend sheet.
Online consumers value peer feedback above all
Interestingly, if two products have similar ratings, consumers are more likely to buy the product with more reviews. This goes to show the immense power of peer feedback in today’s market. Consumers trust each other more than brands, and in 2020, more brands will encourage and capitalize on peer feedback with solutions like online communities. One way to increase community engagement is to apply extrinsic motivation strategies like gamification.
Internal silos are short-changing brands
Eighty-six percent of brands believe it is important or very important to develop customer engagement strategies across functional departments, but only 40 percent believe they currently do it. Breaking down silos begins with developing a shared purpose, and in 2020 more brands will create avenues to streamline their customer-facing teams to provide a better customer experience.
Crises pose greater risk than ever before
A crisis for a brand can be any damaging or negative event that has the possibility of throwing the company’s objectives, reputation, and viability into turmoil. And while brands are aware of the disastrous effects crises can have, such as a long-term decline in sales, data shows they are underprepared, with only 38.7% of brands very confident in their organization’s overall ability to manage a potential crisis. One helpful tip is to make sure you’ve created an expanded staffing/resource plan for social media volume spikes.
To learn all of the trends, read our full trend sheet.
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With Thanksgiving upon us, all of us at Khoros are grateful for our amazing customers and we find ourselves reflecting on the many valuable insights they shared at Khoros Engage events this year. We’re highlighting three of those insights below; if you missed Engage and want to know what it was all about, take a look at the IDC report.
1. Automation is here to support — not replace — care agents
That’s right. Robots aren’t taking over, but they are important to digital engagement. There are two important goals that automation should be deployed to achieve: better customer experience and helping human agents become more efficient. Replacing care agents doesn’t achieve either one of these. Additionally, automation should be done on a small scale to start. Bits and pieces, not the whole shebang.
Instead of using automation as a catchall, it may make more sense to use it in the middle of an interaction to take care of repetitive, mundane tasks, such as customer identification or reaching back out through messaging.
Automation can also be used in triage situations. For example, a bot can greet a customer and ask some questions to home in on the problem that the care agent can help them with, or the interaction can begin with an agent, and then complete a verification utilizing automation. In other words, automation doesn’t always equal chatbots. Tagging, prioritization, and routing are also automated tasks that add value without a chatbot.
Automation should level up the agent’s work rather than replacing it. Learn more about the role of automation in digital engagement with our tipsheet.
2. Success looks different for every online community
Just like snowflakes, great gifts, and you, every online community is unique, and its successes should be considered in this way. Understanding a community’s purpose is important to establishing measurable objectives. Even if the initial justification for building a community was to save costs, every community’s ultimate purpose should be to strengthen the fabric of customer relationships.
One metric worth measuring is support deflection, but it shouldn’t dictate outcomes. Remember that SEO value, resolution time, and customer retention are important measures of success as well.
Learn more about the unique nature of community success in this tipsheet.
3. There are many ways to demonstrate the value of engagement
Few marketing agencies claim they can provide a clear takeaway on social ROI, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done — there’s more than one way to cook a turkey. For instance, illustrating the momentum of brand awareness turns the conversation from engagement metrics to the fact that your audience needs to understand your brand. Worry less about your IG follower count and more about whether your content is working as a clear ambassador of your brand. In a similar way, measuring customer engagement through your brand’s net promoter score (NPS) is another way to look at your brand’s value in.
Another novel way to view engagement is to recognize the conversations are going to happen - do you want to be a part of it or not? Address negative reviews directly, own the issue, and take concrete action to solve the issues. The direct line between social customer engagement and purchase is tough to show, but measuring their journey from social media to website is a clear example of ROI.
Learn more ways to demonstrate the ROI of engagement with our tipsheet.
Digital engagement, and how we measure it, don’t follow a cut-and-dried process; much like cooking a turkey, there are multiple ways to engage and evaluate your success. We’re grateful for the juicy insights that Engage attendees shared on care, marketing, and communities, and we hope they aid you in your quest to create customers for life. For other equally delicious takeaways, be sure to check out the IDC report.
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Maybe you’ve heard this one: Guy walks into a bar, and the bartender says “What’ll you have?” Without missing a beat, the guy says, “Based on the last ten people you served, you tell me!”
OK, we may not be served by automated bartenders yet, but it doesn’t seem too far-fetched if you believe the hype. AI, or artificial intelligence, is the solution du jour to just about everything these days, but the promise of business automation is still just a bit ahead of the proof: while almost 70% of high-performing companies are actively looking for ways to use AI , just over half (57%) have a “completely defined plan” to actually use and benefit from it.
What are AI and its companion ML (machine learning)? Think of the pair as a way for a system to respond to a request (that’s the AI part) and to improve that response over time based on the outcomes it "observes" (that’s the ML part.) So the robotic system — or “bot” — gets smarter as time goes on.
Business automation is on the minds of digital marketing, care, and community buyers alike. But according to research conducted by Illuminas in August 2019, it’s not yet a business priority. Only 15% of marketing and 12% of care buyers valued “existing and/or forthcoming AI capabilities” in the top five decision criteria to purchase a solution. Although automation capabilities ranked lowest among all buyers’ decision criteria, interest and the market to support it are quickly growing: In just the second quarter of 2019, AI startups received a record $7.4 billion in funding.
At Khoros, we have long been believers in the promise of AI and ML — and we’re investing to see that promise realized. The Khoros vision for business automation centers around helping you and your team get more done — delivering faster, better, even human experiences to your customers at accelerated scale. It means creating specific solutions for real problems modern enterprises are facing.
Over four years ago, in fact, we were one of the first social technology solutions to include AI/ML capabilities in our offerings. For example, our care solution recognizes and flags inbound posts as “actionable” for prioritized routing when they are similar to posts that care agents have responded to before. We also deliver automated analysis of sentiment and tone — analytics that get smarter over time based on sentiment conversion tracking. Fast forward to today, and these technologies are widely adopted and leveraged by our customer base — helping brands to pinpoint problems quickly, and respond with helpful solutions even faster.
We continue to build needs-driven AI and ML into our platform — in other words, we continue to leverage AI and ML to solve real customer problems instead of sprinkling it everywhere with no problem to solve. We focus on specific use cases where it can provide trusted results that tie to clear business objectives . At the end of the day, automation must be employed for a useful purpose or businesses run the risk of diving in head first without positive outcomes and ROI. The result? Damaged reputation and ongoing costs for a capability that nobody trusts or wants to use, which hurts your ability to dive in deeper with a stronger use case later on. Khoros believes that with a smart strategy and a solid partner, you can cut through the hype.
As digital channels proliferate and volumes rise, you have to scale your customer service team without blowing your budget. Business automation can offer suggested answers to agents — from a variety of sources, depending on successful responses — so agents can work smarter on more conversations. In the future, automation could even give you predictive staffing recommendations — for volume, skill, and resource (bot or human) — in real-time across teams and channels.
For community managers, it takes a lot of time to engage with millions of members to keep a community vibrant. That process doesn’t have to be entirely manual. AI can assist community managers in quickly identifying potential high value members for nurture opportunities or increased personalization by automatically recommending content based on a member’s interests. In the future, AI could also personalize the No. 1 community activity — search — and offer visitors intent-based results.
For marketers, digital content automation could help make recommendations in creating relevant campaigns with content that inspires action. In the future, AI could speed the processes of tagging and labelling, or assist with governance by assessing the likelihood of content passing versus failing brand content guidelines in approval workflows, so brand marketers can focus on what really matters: engagement.
The goal is to help you market more effectively, better serve an increasing number of customers, and grow your community advocacy. Not by eliminating humans, but by assisting them — removing the drudgery of repetitive tasks to make the job they do more enjoyable and impactful. Consider that the majority (80%) of service decision makers believe AI is most effective when deployed with — rather than in place of — humans.
AI and ML are here, and they’re real. Yes, there’s a ton of hype around both of them. But with a smart strategy and a solid partner to support you along the way, you can cut through the hype and maximize your ROI.
For more information on how to make smart use of the latest in digital engagement technology, contact Khoros .
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The honeymoon phase between consumers and social media is over. People are no longer wowed by the “newness” of social media or content with brands simply being present on their favorite platforms. In fact, a Marketing Land article found that people are growing more skeptical of businesses on social media.
Amid fake news and privacy concerns, it’s more important than ever for companies to focus on building trust through authentic interactions with their audience on social media. But what exactly does it mean to be authentic on social media? And how do you know if your brand is doing a good job of authentically engaging with your audience?
In this post, we’re touching on the four fundamentals of brand authenticity in 2019, and what they mean for the future of social media:
1. Understand your purpose
Authenticity can only occur when you understand your purpose.
Motivational speaker Simon Sinek helps entrepreneurs get to the core of their business. Sinek went viral in 2009 after he delivered a TED Talk that discussed the relationship between success and understanding the underlying purpose of an organization. The famous presentation has since been viewed over 45 million times and Sinek has become a bestselling author for the “golden circle theory” which resulted from that TED Talk.
According to Sinek, all organizations understand what they do — such as selling a product or service. Some organizations understand how they do it — which includes the unique factors and processes that set them apart from competitors. However, very few organizations understand why they do what they do — and profit isn’t the answer (profit is a result). Rather, the why is the cause or belief that explains your organization’s existence.
Businesses often choose to use social media as a way to promote products and services, but few do a good job of relaying their “why” across digital platforms. Relaying the “why” of your company is essential because consumers are more likely to trust businesses that promote their values over pushing their products, Sinek explains.
2. Know your audience
Understanding your organization isn’t enough — you also need to understand your audience to provide authentic interactions and meaningful content that’s relevant to their needs.
Online shoe and clothing retailer Zappos is renowned for its excellent customer service, which starts with a strong commitment to learning about their audience.
As part of onboarding, all Zappos employees are required to get in depth-call center training and spend at least one week working in customer support. This helps new employees understand the audience and their pain points so they can keep the customer in mind with everything they do.
In fact, Zappos offers a $2,000 bonus to employees who choose to quit after the first week as a way to filter out new hires who aren’t passionate about helping their audience.
How well do you understand your audience? Do you know what matters to them, and what they like and dislike about your business? These factors are essential to consider when creating a social media strategy that emphasizes authenticity.
Learn how Khoros Intelligence can help you understand your audience and engage with them through authentic interactions.
3. Focus on personal interactions
We’ve all been there: waiting to speak with a living and breathing human, only to find ourselves saying pre-selected phrases to a robot. Many people get upset when they are unable to speak with a real person after calling customer support, and the same principle holds true for social media. Automated responses or copy and paste replies diminish the authenticity of brands in digital spaces.
Generic responses come off as robotic and impersonal. Even worse, generic responses to negative comments may further aggravate consumers.
Commenting on positive customer experiences is an important practice and should be done in a way that makes the customer feel uniquely valued. Personal replies like the examples below help consumers see an organization as a team of real people dedicated to serving them.
Create personal and authentic interactions with your audience by focusing on being responsive and genuine. Don’t let questions go unanswered or compliments go ignored. Let your audience know you appreciate their feedback and that they matter to your brand.
It’ll help your bottom line: too: according to the Harvard Business Review , it’s five to 25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an existing one. Additionally, building strong relationships with current customers can help them become advocates for your brand.
4. Create meaningful content
Great content is what keeps people coming back to your social media page. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel with every tweet, but you should strive to do something notable every once in a while with a high-effort post. Consider your available time and resources to determine how often you can create high-effort content without sacrificing quality. Some ideas include looking for important moments to share and inspiring stories to tell. Or go behind the scenes to give your audience insight into your brand.
Nike is known for sharing inspiring stories, but in 2018 they made headlines for their “ Dream Crazy ” ad featuring former NFL athlete Colin Kaepernick, among others. At the time, Kaepernick was a source of controversy following his decision to kneel during the pre-game anthem, but Nike’s ad didn’t carry an overtly political message.
Instead, the ad shared stories of athletes who triumphed over adversity and unfathomable odds to make their dream a reality. Nike encouraged viewers to follow their dreams, exceed the achievements of their icons, and set a new standard of excellence for generations to come.
The results of the ad were astounding. CNBC reported that the video generated an estimated $43 million in media exposure within the first 24 hours, and it went on to receive over 65 million views in just five days.
The video, which you can view above, is a great example of meaningful content, but few organizations can regularly create marketing materials at this quality level. Luckily, there are several ways for organizations to create content that adds authenticity to their brand without breaking the bank.
Some great strategies to consider include:
Incorporating employee spotlights
Tell the world about your talented team by posting about your employees on social media. Showcase their skills and share brief bios including hobbies and interests.
Collaborate with nano-influencers (<5,000 followers) through joint projects and giveaways. Additionally, look at their content and see what your audience enjoys about it.
Posting about office events
Share pictures from the yearly costume contest or ugly sweater party. These events help consumers see your organization as a family opposed to just a workplace.
What brand authenticity means for the future of social media
Social media platforms will rise and fall in the coming years, but data shows us what trends are likely to stick around. According to the American Press Institute , consumers are becoming more skeptical of content they see on social media. To combat this, businesses should aim to build trust through authenticity with audiences.
Learn how Khoros can help your business establish authenticity and create customers for life using our best-in-class social media management platform .
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We’re thrilled to announce significant new enhancements to our industry-leading online community solution Khoros Communities . All Khoros customers now have access to the following features:
Community syndication to amplify community content throughout search, purchase, and support in a simple, scalable way.
Early access to Group Hubs help users connect with people that share their interests and empower them to improve the community.
Improved search results and analytics to help users find the right content right away.
Modern content editing tools to simplify creation for richer, more engaging content through pictures, videos, emojis, and more.
Community integration capabilities through API and mobile SDK to embed trusted peer content into core products and applications.
Online communities are already hotbeds for engagement , and these new capabilities increase the breadth and depth of that engagement by amplifying peer conversations throughout the customer journey, including search, purchase, and support interactions. Let’s take a look at each in detail to see the lasting value these features bring to your brand.
Community syndication extends the reach of your online community by embedding it into your brand’s portfolio of marketing and/or support tools. This allows customers to experience your community wherever their search takes them, whether that’s within your brand’s .com site, product catalog, commerce site, or elsewhere in the customer journey.
This feature makes it possible for users to become a part of your community even if they’ve never been to your online community. Additionally, featuring user generated content on your product pages, such as product discussions, lends credibility and builds trust with your brand.
The Group Hubs feature is currently in early access. This feature allows users and administrators to organize their content into topics based on common themes or purpose — simplifying the administration and management of online communities that cover a lot of broad topics. The end result is that users can more easily interact with the content they find most valuable.
Many communities today have grown to the point that users have organized into subgroups around special interests. Empowering users to manage those groups themselves, and giving them flexibility to create Open, Closed, or Hidden groups just means that Communities can be more engaging. More engaging communities foster more power users, who then encourage more engagement from other users.
When you organize it, they will come.
Improved search results and analytics
This feature includes search performance enhancements, such as the ability to leverage synonyms, as well as improved analytics for administrators to monitor and improve the performance of promoted search results.
User generated content is incredibly powerful from a search perspective because people trust it, it is getting constantly updated, and it covers the “long tail” of SEO that is hard for brands to capture at scale with traditional content strategies. Even the largest internal content team would struggle to write individual posts about every niche topic covered in an online community, and even if they could, it wouldn’t be an efficient use of resources. With an online community that has improved search results and analytics, you get users to the right content faster, so they spend less time frustrated and more time engaging.
Modern Content Editor
With these updates, users can now drag and drop attachments into community posts as well as copy and paste from Word documents very easily. This feature also allows administrators to add various tags or elements to posts after creation, to help better organize and leverage content. Whether it’s an employee, customer, or prospect using your brand’s community, it’s important for them to have a seamless, stress-free experience while posting.
Broader emoji support
Drag and drop attachments
Import from document editing software
This feature includes mobile app, CRM, and platform integration capabilities for embedded community content and experiences directly into brands applications. The most powerful experiences happen when people don’t have to hunt them out, so embedding a community into the core application increases the likelihood that a user will interact with the community and gain all the amazing benefits to customer satisfaction, retention, and growth that communities provide. Examples include the Samsung Members App that was part of the S10 launch and the Quickbooks and TurboTax apps for Intuit.
How to get started
To learn how you can put these new features into action, simply connect with your account executive. They’ll be happy to show you how you can use community syndication, Group Hubs, improved search results and analytics, Modern Content Editor, and platform-level integration. If you are not currently a Khoros Communities customer, request a demo to get in on the action.
Also, for more information, please attend our Community Everywhere webinar on September 26th !
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