In the last 10 years social has evolved from a place of personal sharing with friends and family to a day-to-day necessity. And Facebook is no longer the only player. We are faced with options and daily decisions about how we use this medium; consumer and brands alike. We have everything within our fingertips; it’s just a matter on where we choose to scroll and why.

Unlike China, where life can be conducted via WeChat, the idea of a one stop shop for us is not so simple. Options require decisions and with social commerce not showing any signs of slowing down, another layer of complexity is added, turning social into a virtual shopping mall of sorts, changing consumer experience and putting higher expectations on brands.  22% of consumers are now expecting a response within 10 mins via social media, while 28% of consumers have said brands social presence was the reason they tried a new product of service in the first place, so we know social should be a core component of any marketing strategy.

However it is no longer good enough to just ‘be there’ and get some awareness for your Brand.  We can now work towards real business objectives through this medium so the question isn’t if you need to have social presence but rather understanding the impact it has and how best to adapt.

With all of that in mind, we can pinpoint three main focus areas that brands needs to start seriously thinking about and planning for; amplification of good content, being dynamic within the commerce space and good old fashion Customer Care.

With that in mind let’s look at each of these 3 key factors and what that means for brands.

 

Social Commerce

Social commerce is evolving at rapid pace and we see a few platforms who are really trying to dominate this space. Facebook’s dynamic abilities, using any type of feed, both product and travel based, has seen brands achieve X16 return on spend in some instances. Being able to show customers the right product, at the right time with the right message is exactly why these dynamic products are so successful and for those brands who do not have budget for top notch content, Dynamic ads are a must.

The latest two products released, Facebook Collections and Dynamic Ads for prospecting have both seen great initial results and will no doubt see further improvement over time, with brands having more flexibility to engage service existing customer, and find new ones, with little to no effort at all.

The likes of Instagram have just introduced Instant Purchase capabilities, from an organic perspective, which allows consumers to be able click and purchasing directly from the platform. Historically Instagram has never converted as well as Facebook, but with these types of updates, and Dynamic Products also running on Instagram, we could see all of that changing very soon.

Pinterest has also recently entered into the Australian market and is set to be a real player within the social commerce space.  Dominating within particular categories such as Wedding, Travel and Fashion, and with 150M people now on the platform, keeping in mind 50% are a non-US based, the opportunity is there for brands to success and those who adopt the quickest will reap the rewards.  As far as a performance platform, it has shown some early signs of success, driving 5X more in-store sales and those who click from Pinterest are 5.8X more likely to convert.

 

Amplification of good content

Paid content will continue to reign, so Content does matter:with every social platforms fighting for airtime almost every single one is using some sort of content preferential tactics; and every Brand wants to come out on top. Since Instagram introduced its own algorithm last year, the main purpose of these brands is to make their users are happy by showing them only the most relevant content.

The first point of engagement with users is the content they see while scrolling through their mobile devices with brands having a short amount of time, and space, to create certain of amount of affinity and resonance. It’s important the quality of content is high, consistent and well thought-out. While it’s still common place to repurpose global assets across multiple markets, brands need to think bigger, or rather more targeted. Using creative partners like Refule4, brands can not only get scalable creative, which is also cost effective, but test creative to understand what is resonating with their audiences. It is just as important to have great creative as it is to test it and the only way to be able to get any definite insights is through amplification.

It has been reported, by Adobe, that social media spend is set to grow, estimated to surpassing $41 billion in 2017, so to rely purely on organic content would not have the reach nor insight to fully be able to understand your customers.

 

Customer Care

As a consumer you want to be heard if you are dissatisfied with a product or a service, which historically meant speaking to a manager, emailing the store or leaving feedback in- store. These methods still exist however no longer preferred. If customers wish to be heard, they will simply open one of their many social Apps and let their fingers do the talking.

It is therefore crucial as a brand, particularly if you want to succeed within the social commerce space, to ensure you are prepared. You must be ready to answer, solve and diffuse any situation and do it quick. It was reported that 85% of surveyed customers have warned friends and family against certain brands and Products simply due to less than satisfactory customer service.

With a survey conducted with over 5000 consumers in over 5 countries, 65% of consumers aged between 18-34 said they view social as a go to for customer care, compared to just 27% of 55+.

For those brands whose target market fits exactly within that 18-34 bracket need to start having internal conversations about how best to use this medium for those after sale interactions, complaints or just general customer queries.

We have seen some big brands do it very well, turning certain potential negative scenarios into positive Brand experience.

We just have to look at brands like ASOS, whose customer sits exactly within that target market, to see just how a customer care first approach is executed and very well at that. They even encourage their customers to tweet their well manned Twitter Customer Care Account, instead of calling or emailing. In fact, their contact details are not even published on their site.

There is also a lot of talk about BOTS, including Facebook’s new messenger features, and while Chat Bots, AI and Virtual Reality will play a role in the near future, and more so within social than any other medium, people still want to feel like they are speaking with a human being. So, let’s do the simple tasks first and do them well; be human, cut response times and maintain consistency, because while 80% of companies believe they deliver a high standard of customer care, only 8% of those customers agree.

Those brands that can also cut out the fat between purchase and delivery will reap the rewards. And with a giant like Amazon coming into the market all retailers will need to step up their game.

 

So how can Brands conquer the social space?

Things are evolving within social rapidly. For brands it can be hard to keep up, and even more importantly, knowing how to. With social playing a much bigger role within the marketing mix, it becomes important for brands to understand their strengths but also their limitations. Execution of social campaigns needs to be a thought-out process, not just from a commercial but also creative and Brand affinity perspective.  The customer first approach has never been more important than right now, and brands need to be quick and adapt fast, otherwise getting left behind isn’t just a possibility but a mere certainty.

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