Social Media Is About Connection And Conversation
Today, we have social media to thank for easier and better communication with everyone — even those halfway across the world. Especially during this Covid 19 situation which turned our norms and what was once familiar to us, upside down. During this season, even something as natural as meeting together physically was at one point of time, considered illegal and liable to a fine. From working in the office to working from home, from shopping in malls to going shopping online, from dinner dates to zoom dates, from catching up over coffee to catching up over Facebook/Instagram/TikTok live, and the list goes on. The digital space has done a great deal in helping us to cope with this difficult time and keep our lives moving — both professionally and personally — and it goes without saying that social media has had a big role in it.
Apart from that, social media has also opened doors for brands and businesses to engage and interact with their customers in a deeper, more personal way — one that feels more human and heartfelt rather than simply trying to get people to buy their products. One of the big questions for brands is how can they still make their presence felt, and keep the conversation going, during those “down” times in our lives when we are not thinking of shopping? In other words, when we are busy working, socialising, or scrolling away on Instagram? Enter social media.
In fact, almost everyone is on social media — one platform or another — and adopting a user-first approach would mean meeting your customers right where they are. This is often a more effective form of targeting as it simply means bringing your brand’s presence to where the crowd is already gathered. With that being said, the conversation on social media has to be a two-way thing. Many brands on social media fail to recognise that the success of their social media strategy is heavily reliant on the relationships formed on the platform(s). Why? This is because the basis of social media is connection. It started with the intention and core function of allowing people to connect with one another, in a way that was not bounded by geographical location. Recognising the purpose of the platform and the reason why users are there, can thus help brands to better tailor their presence, content, messaging and strategy to fit in and harness all that social media has to offer. Hence, social media is not just brands creating an account on Facebook or Instagram and posting mindless product updates. Rather, it is continuously engaging and interacting with users, and seeing them as more than just buyers.
How can a two-way conversation help your brand?
People might wonder — are conversations on social media better than face-to-face conversations? Well, it’s not so much about which is better rather, recognising that conversations have simply taken on another form — which can at times, be complementary. Conversing on social media is often quick and straight to the point, and the beauty of it is that your message can be communicated to thousands of people at any one point in time. So how can brands practice having two-way conversations on social media?
Appear more personable and human
One-way conversations happen when the brand dominates the narrative and has minimal interaction with its followers. The posts become very promotional, very commercial, with the absence of human touch to it. A survey conducted by Hubspot with more than 900 social media users, stated that 45% of them would hit the unfollow button if they saw too much promotional content on a brand’s profile (Source: blog.hubspot.com).
Two-way conversations on the other hand, are when brands start listening to what their customers have to say, rather than just focusing on what the brand puts out. Applying the 80-20 rule here — 80% of your posts should be adding value to your customers, in a way that builds your brand at the same time. The remaining 20% can be reserved for self-serving content such as new product updates or upcoming events (Source: impactbnd.com). So start injecting some fresh value-adding, human-centered content into the mix! Share ideas and news, doesn’t matter if they are not yours (but make sure to credit the source!). Share what your employees have been up to — what are they currently working on? This helps to give your brand a warmer, human touch, as opposed to coming off as cold and disconnected from your customers.
Let your brand personality shine through
By trying to encourage two-way conversations on social media, your customers will also start to sense your brand’s personality and company culture — whether it’s through the way you interact with customers, or through the content you put up. Brands with a distinctive brand personality will stand out from the crowd — like Wendy’s. Do you still remember how Wendy’s twitter account became viral because of their witty and hilarious roasts (Image: agorapulse.com)? Old, but gold.
Through this, Wendy’s becomes known for their sarcastic and clever humor. Many people started following Wendy’s to keep up with their latest tweets and get in on their roasting action, with some followers even asking the brand to have a go at roasting them. Although a rather bold move, people often respond favourably to brands that are a little more unconventional, and a little more human.
Learn to listen and respond
You know how engaging in a meaningful conversation with someone can sometimes lead to both parties finding out new things about the one another? The same applies here. Engaging in two-way conversations can not only help you find out what customers love about your brand, but also help you learn more about their frustrations — and this is how you improve. These days, people tend to take their opinions, frustrations, and just their thoughts in general, to social media. Practicing active social listening and good community management can thus be helpful for your brand in finding out what the brand sentiments are on the ground. It could be as simple as responding to comments by affirming positive ones, and displaying empathy as well as the willingness to find out more for negative ones. Brands that take it another step further usually exercise the initiative to start a conversation with users, especially if they have mentioned the brand, or posted about a relevant topic, in spite of whether they have actually tagged the brand or not. Take Taco Bell’s tweet below for instance.
In doing so, customers start to feel heard, they start to feel that the brand values their opinions and feedback, and that the brand treasures the relationship with that customer. This produces stronger brand affinity and increased customer loyalty, even if they had had a bad experience prior to the interaction. Hence, two-way conversations can go a long way in building a brand, especially on social media.
More often than not, people tend not to give any attention to strangers selling their products. However, if you have an existing relationship with someone — say you are a friend — there is a higher chance of that someone lending you his/her attention to hear what you’ve got to recommend. As brands learn how to connect and have an ongoing conversation with customers, relationships start to build, and this lays the foundation for telling them about who they are and what they have to offer.
Let’s talk about social commerce
This brings us to what brands do have to offer. The line between social media and ecommerce is getting blurrer, especially with social commerce now standing between the two. Similar to ecommerce, social commerce refers to the buying and selling activities that take place directly on social media platforms. Remember, this is different from social media marketing because social commerce offers them an in-app shopping experience, coupled with the ability to checkout and purchase the products directly within the app itself (Source: bigcommerce.com). Social commerce encompasses tools like user ratings, feedback management, user-generated content and ecommerce services. Judging by the amount of time people spend on social media, especially with the younger generation, social commerce is a very important aspect for forward-thinking ecommerce brands. Let’s now take a look at what some of these social commerce options are.
As part of Facebook’s initiative to launch social commerce, improve the online shopping experience, and simultaneously help struggling small businesses during this difficult time, this gave rise to Facebook Shops. Facebook Shops allow businesses to create digital storefronts and upload ‘catalogues’ of their products there, where users can choose to either purchase the products on the retailer’s website or directly on Facebook itself. The image below shows how Shops will look like on Facebook (Source: about.fb.com).
Following closely behind Facebook Shop is Instagram Shop. Similar to its Facebook version, Instagram users can browse through selections from brands and creators, filter by categories, and make purchases at one shot. In fact, Instagram is looking to add a ‘Shop’ tab in the navigation bar below for easier access to this feature.
Instagram is the perfect social media platform for social commerce due to its visual appeal. The high quality visuals commonly found on the platform, plays a huge role in attracting users’ interest in a brand’s product. How brands can strategically implement this is to integrate shoppable posts into their feeds — all while making sure that their Instagram feeds still maintains a consistent theme and color palette, so as to let their brand personality shine through. H&M is one example.
By pressing on the product tag, users will be directed to the brand’s in-app catalogue where they can view more photos of the product itself. On this catalogue page, users will also be presented with the option ‘View On Website’ — which when pressed, immediately leads them to the item on the website, allowing them to browse and shop from there!
Brands can also make use of Instagram Stories to feature their products, and allow users to swipe up to landing pages to browse for more, or make a purchase. The Instagram Highlights feature also helps brands showcase new product lines or events. Other than that, Instagram is also looking to introduce a new Live Shopping feature — where people get to tag the products from their Facebook Shop before going live, so that the products will be listed at the bottom of the video for viewers to tap on and purchase (Source: about.fb.com). Yes, directly through the live video!
Taking a quick look at the up and coming TikTok platform as well, creators can include social commerce links in their video captions, for users to have a seamless purchasing experience without having to leave the app at all. If you want to find out more about how TikTok helps with social commerce, read one of our previous articles: “How To Brand & Sell On TikTok“.
Social commerce and conversions
Social commerce is gaining a lot of popularity because now not only can you connect, view content, and be entertained on social media, but with it, you can also shop through the apps themselves! However, the conversion rates for social commerce is still relatively low, especially if you compare it with the rates for email and search (Source: businessinsider.com).
Still, its influence on consumers’ purchasing decisions cannot be ignored as it has been shown to help drive sales later on, both online and offline. In fact, social commerce is still growing at a fast pace and industry experts foresee that its conversation rates will only continue to improve as more customers turn to it as a norm.
By first understanding that connection and conversation makes for a successful social media strategy, and marrying it with the effective use of social commerce, this equips brands with the tools they need to not just survive but thrive, in serving and marketing to the next generation of consumers.
As of the start of 2020, there are more than 4.5 billion people using the internet, with 3.8 billion of them on social media (Source: wearesocial.com). What does this mean? This means that if your brand is online, and has a social media presence, there is a high chance that users will come across your brand. However, what is going to make yours stand out in a sea of brands, is how effectively you connect and interact with these users. Thus, two-way conversations are very important in helping your brand to build strong customer-brand relationships which can eventually help to increase conversions. If you ever need help in improving your social media or social commerce strategy, feel free to contact us! We are always happy to help!