It has been a decade now since Shruti Deshpande is a Content Marketer. She is passionate about digital marketing and has always been genuinely interested in finding out what’s upcoming and new, what has worked and what hasn’t.
She is a huge fan of customer journey and keeps striving to understand what connects people at different stages in a customer journey with regards to buying a product or service. She says, “With digital marketing exploding at such a fast pace, this is a fascinating journey.”
Apart from being a marketer, Shruti loves blogging, doing podcasts, writing and helping startups and companies in terms of planning and implementing their marketing. In a talk with SocialPilot’s Jagruti Bhargav, Shruti shared her insights on content engagement and influencer marketing.
Listen to the insights shared by Shruti Deshpande.
What Do I Expect from the Video :
- Importance of customer engagement on social media.
- Why are micro-influencers gaining more importance?
- How to increase brand awareness through advocacy?
- How important is user-generated content for higher engagement?
Find the summarized version of the interview below.
What role does Social Media play when it comes to customer engagement and interacting with your potential customers?
Social media platforms are able to help customer satisfaction levels and engagement in a lot of ways. Some of these ways are:
- Social media platforms help you establish a reputation with your followers or customers. It is not possible as quickly as traditional advertising. In short, you can put faces to names, reinforce the company image that you have built and connect with your audience on a more personal level.
- You can make your customers feel special. Social media is a great way to do that extra bit, which then helps truly engage with your customers. For example, if you are a pay day loans company, you can offer special deals or promotions, maybe a special rate for a limited time. This helps you win more followers or be noticed by prospects. You can make your existing customers and followers feel special in that you can give them these exclusive benefits. So social media certainly helps build that special factor.
- It helps improve communication. Efficient and effective communication with customers is extremely important. Poor customer service and response times which are lengthier can have seriously damaging effects on your reputation. So with social media you can surely improve and provide fast and efficient response to customers.
If social media is done in the right way, it can deliver some far-fetching results. By ensuring that your posts are high-end caliber or high-end quality and relevant, you get an instant positive reaction from your audiences, establish a brand connection and engage them. It can work wonders and make customers realize that you are much more than a name or a logo.
A lot of companies are also moving towards influencer marketing but rather than tapping the big celebrities or huge personalities that have a million followers or 500,000 followers, they are keener towards working with micro influencers that have lesser number of highly engaged followers. Why do you think we’re seeing this shift in the curve from tapping celebrities to micro influencers?
It is important to understand that metrics and conversion numbers are not the be-all and end-all of everything. You may say, “Oh, my email had a 24% open rate.” But if it’s not getting your people to convert, it’s irrelevant. Building the connection is the key, and companies need to engage with audiences throughout their journey, right from getting them interested in the product or service to nudging them closer to buying it to even post-sales. It never ends.
It’s important to latch on to that attention and carry on from there.
First, understand what is a micro-influencer?
By definition, a micro-influencer is someone with an audience in a range of 2000 to probably 50000 followers on a particular social media channel. These followers usually comprise people who share a focused passion for a topic or a niche. And they are really into that particular subject. It’s important that this niche or topic is built upon well. This means that influencers already have the connection built with the audience that these brands are trying to attract. They have already captured the most prized possession that we all are trying to fight for, which is attention.
For example, if you are a runner, you are more likely to read, engage, and consume content from a fellow runner. You will be inspired by their journey and their running story. If you truly feel the connection, your buying decisions will be influenced by the views of this micro-influencer. They will make you feel like part of their community like you belong somewhere. Because both of you share the same passion. While on the other hand, big brands may have huge black Friday sales. But it is a micro-influencer who is inspiring you to buy what they are using.
It’s the connection that is the key, and that is what the brands want to pocket via these micro-influencers. Micro-influencers bring the connection and engagement that brands want to capitalize on. Hence, the shift.
Besides building relations with micro-influencers and developing a community, how can a brand ensure positive engagement from the content that they share?
When we talk about content and the positive engagement that it needs to create, there are some fundamental bits that we need to keep in mind:
- It’s not about you. It was never about you. It’s always about your audience. Hence, I would like to touch upon buyers and their personas. It is extremely important to understand what their needs are and who they are, to find them. Ask questions like:
- What do they do?
- What are their hobbies?
- Where are they located?
- Where are they looking?
- Where are they spending?
All this information is absolutely vital to build your buyer personas. A company or a brand may have multiple buyer personas. But make sure that they are clearly defined and review on a regular basis, because they are bound to change with time. With so many channels coming on board and with so many ways of content consumption today, it’s important that the brand reviews what their end audience is really doing and where they are looking.
- People should use multiple channels. It’s very rare that someone buys something because they saw a tweet or a TV ad. In this day and age, we need to be omnipresent but at the same time, be relevant. If your buyer persona suggests that your folks are watching TV between 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm, are engaging on LinkedIn and Twitter, prefer emails to direct mail, then consider that. There is no point in wasting time and effort on building a Facebook page and spending on paid ads right on that channel because everyone else is doing that. Make sure you use the right channels to engage your potential customers.
- Customer's attention is the most important asset we are all in this game for. Go that extra mile to grab the attention. Make sure you get those loves, those tears, invoke sympathy or empathy. Your content has to truly build that connection and get those reactions out of your audience.
Respond in real time. Today we do not have the luxury to wait for 24 hours to get back to an inquiry that a prospect has made. We have to grab it as soon as possible. Engage and respond quickly, whether the response is positive or negative. We have so many examples today where by simply responding quickly, a company has avoided a landslide of negative comments.
The worst thing a company can do is delete the negative remarks. Please do not do that. If there is problem, ensure that the customer is directed to the right team and get the matter sorted. If you have made a mistake, own up. After all, we are all humans and it’s easier to manage expectations by being real. Just make sure that you do not repeat those mistakes and take care of them at the right time.
The content has to have quality. Today we are spending more time on metrics than on quality. While we are busy spending energy on issues surrounding metrics and are fiddling with measurements, consumers are simply blocking us. The lack of connect and relevance does not let us cross that big barrier of reaching our consumers. So there’s no point in debating about the metrics and conversion funnel.
Show your human side via your content. Consumers need to feel the connection which is possible if you stay simple and consistent. Brands today need to set a tone of voice and stick with it. You can be witty and funny, or you can be serious and forthright, as per your goals and requirements. Just be consistent through all the channels because that is what your customers will certainly remember.
Q. How important is user-generated content in terms of showing social proof of higher brand engagement?
A. User-generated content is huge. And the importance it brings is multi-fold.
First understand what is user generated content?
It is the content created and shared by users across multiple channels. According to an analysis, customers are 75% more likely to share a good experience with a brand. Also, more than 70% of customers are likely to buy from a brand that they have a good interaction with. Now, user-generated content is refreshingly different and it truly cuts through the marketing noise, adding value to both the brand and the customers.
Let your customers be your best advocates. The social proof received from customers has a direct relation to increase in brand engagement and record, because it is evidence from someone confirming the claim that the brand intends to make. Social proof is not difficult to create as people may think it is. It certainly requires consistency and persistence. But make sure that you get your customers to review your products or services, give you testimonials, add comments, participate in surveys, and rate your products and services. That is the best advocate that can help to convert your prospects and engage them to finally allow them to buy something that you provide.
Q. How does customer engagement get affected when a brand gets into a conversation with the audience instead of just talking to them and not listening? How does that add value to audiences becoming loyal customers and brand ambassadors of the company?
A. What better than your old customer singing your laurels and appreciating the service or product that you provided to them? It’s all about storytelling. A happy customer does nothing but explains people how your brand fits into their world. They really build that connect to their own story. Powerful storytelling creates an emotional state that is contagious and viral. This is the true essence of good marketing.
I’ll give you a personal example. This was when I bought my first house. It was a cold winter day and the first morning in my new house. I woke up and all I could see was snow laden streets. I could see nothing but white. Probably at 8:30 or 9:00 am in the morning, I got a knock on the door and it was the postman who had brought a parcel.
It was so exciting to see my name with my house’s address on that parcel. I received it and excitingly opened the whole package. What was inside the package was something that changed my perception towards this product and the service that I had just bought. It was a present from my mortgage provider.
Now you would think what customer delight can a bank give? Well, they had sent nothing less than a lovely wooden box with a bottle of wine for me to celebrate my new, biggest purchase of my life. Along with that, they had given me a tool box. What do you do when you move into a house? You fix things. You need a toolbox for that. That’s exactly what I had received. The emotional connect that I felt that day was huge and something that I will never forget. That story got embedded in my mind forever and made me inclined towards the particular mortgage provider, no matter how drab a financial institution can be. Now even if they are not providing the best interest rates, I will have this special connection. And I will make sure that I check on them if I was ever to change my mortgage provider.
Today we need to understand that mediocrity is just a comfort zone and it’s a default mode for many companies. These companies measure success only by sales and then wonder why everyone is talking about their competition. It’s simple. Innovation is key and that’s what fosters inspiration within us. Once that happens, we will share their story too.
A customer cannot wait to talk all about the laurels of this product or service that they have just received. In this day and age, where everyone is rating and reviewing brands, we can’t underestimate the power of human interaction. Hence, the role of customer engagement is huge in making customers your brand ambassadors.
Tip: If a brand doesn’t start listening, and only keeps on talking to customers, it cannot survive in the world of social media, which is so fast and ever-evolving.
The #SocialMediaMarvels is a podcast series that invites digital marketing influencers from across the world to celebrate their journey and get a glimpse of their contributions to the field. Get actionable tips, learn directly from the practitioners, and imbibe it to help your business. If you would like me to cover a specific topic, then share your suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.