Are brands disillusioned about their performance on social?

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krow consider the value of social during a pandemic.

Now more than ever, it’s important for brands to create genuine relationships with customers. We, as consumers, want to know that businesses have our best interests at heart, with social media set to be a vital line of communication in the coming weeks and months.

Despite this however, research shows that while 80% of companies say that they deliver great social service, only 8% of customers agree with this. It’s a huge disconnect – and it exists because most brands are getting it wrong. People use social media to connect with one another, with things they need, things they care about. Yet, often marketers are too quick to treat social as a one-way sales channel, missing out on the opportunity to build deeper connections with their audience.

This may be because marketing and service departments are managing social in silo, meaning that the experience isn’t one holistic thing working towards the same goal. People end up obsessing over the wrong metrics, they underestimate how powerful social can be and focus only on one area of what it can do: the advertising.

Paid ads can pack a punch, but they’re not the only way to drive big positive impacts. It’s important to highlight the scope of what can be achieved with social – beyond the expected – in ways that add value and improve the customer’s overall experience. There are myriad ways in which to define a business’ social strategy: moving to a point where we can all drop the word ‘media’ and become something stronger, something which rocks. Below we explore some of the ways we can do that.

1. Social listening

Social isn’t just a broadcast channel. Listening to your customers can shape products, brand campaigns and customer experience. One brand which has done this brilliantly in recent times is Jet Blue. Waiving all change and cancelation fees for travel until the end of April, the company took this as an opportunity to really listen to customers and prioritise being helpful above anything else.

At krow, we use Brandwatch digital listening to help us uncover the insights we need to grow our partners’ businesses. With these capabilities, we can understand customer pain points and emerging trends in real time – keeping us one step ahead of the competition.

2. Social moments

Endless scrolling isn’t healthy or helpful. Instead, creating richer and more meaningful social moments can build stronger audience connections and extend brand experience. Moments aren’t only things that we’re creating for our brands, but also things that we’re paying attention to – mixing up ad strategies and channels, being mindful of where our audiences are and what’s on their minds.

A fantastic example of a social moment happened recently with Burger King’s mouldy whopper campaign, dividing marketers around the world. The campaign, which showed a burger decaying over a 34-day period, was designed to highlight the chain's decision to remove artificial preservatives from its flagship burger. And, whether you like it or not, it got us talking – with conversations about Burger King on all social channels doubling in the first 24 hours.

3. Social convenience

Social platforms can add a lot of value by making processes more convenient. Building more convenience by understanding social platforms and customer pain points and finding exactly where to add value is invaluable in a marketplace increasingly driven by customer experience.

For example, in the US, the CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention) has launched a ‘coronavirus symptom self-checker’ chatbot for people unable to access healthcare services while in isolation. The app provides links to information, as well as next steps, with word on the grapevine being that the NHS is reportedly in conversation with Whatsapp to provide a similar service in the UK. Being prepared for big behavioural change and how technology can help will be critical for brands moving forward.

4. Social technology

With the growing need to create better social experience, we need better social technology powering it. One example is social API which can connect the dots from platforms to users to internal systems, helping to deliver a holistic view of your data, and simplify processes. Another – brilliant – example of how social and tech can work in tandem to create innovative ideas is Twitter’s Powered by Tweets programmes which has helped users create ideas ranging from emojis which help people give blood, to backpack-wearing pigeons delivering information about air quality.

5. Social purpose

Purpose connects the dots and makes everything you do more impactful. It’s not about mindlessly following trends, or jumping on the biggest thing, but about doing the right thing. Something that has never felt more important than it does right now.

Purpose also isn’t about marketing – it’s about experience. Purpose directs everything we do. If you start with the question: why should your brand be on social? Then your objectives, your audience and your social experience will make a lot more sense.

One brilliant example we saw recently is Innocent’s ‘One week down. ____ weeks to go’ story that ran across its social channels. Not only did it capture all the thoughts and feelings no doubt everyone has had as we move through these uncertain times, we instantly felt part of a collective and were reminded that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Isolate Live is another great concept, an entirely online festival designed so that you can listen, watch and support musicians during this difficult period.

Social has been the subject of much criticism in recent times. But if it’s used in the right way – as we’ve seen above – we believe it can do really great things. Social has seen 22% increases in delivered impressions for some brands in the last week and there are some really nice opportunities for businesses, as long as they are sensitive, understand their customers and are genuinely helpful. It’s important to remember that good social strategy is also about knowing when to stay silent, just as much as it means knowing what to post and when.

For us, everything comes back to the question: is this truly the best thing for the audience? Does it add value – is it entertaining, or helping or connecting people? If it doesn’t, it probably won’t work.

Sam Bettis, social media director at krow.

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