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This one trend will help shape your social media strategy

This one trend will help shape your social media strategy

To influence how someone votes or invests or what they buy and where, you need to understand what is influencing their choices.

Every day we hear about another algorithm change or tool that alters the way we receive, distribute, or engage with information or business.

For communications leaders, knowing about the tools is important but not as important as understanding how they impact the behaviour of the people you want to reach.

One such trend is the impact these tools are having on immediacy across every aspect of the business relationship.

Immediacy in customer service

Our expectations around speed have changed enormously since social media first emerged 14 years ago, enabling instant, global interconnectivity.

Gone are the days that people stood in a queue to return a faulty product to a retailer. Instead, we complain online where everyone can see what we are saying and expect to hear back from a business on social media regardless of where a complaint is made.

This does not just apply to online businesses — customers like a ‘hybrid’ model of brick & mortar with digital stores, including around return policies.

Last year we complained on social 879 million times and as we have seen, with almost constant regularity, these complaints poorly handled (or in some cases ignored) can backfire on a company.

For example Patrick Hong outlines how Uber’s decision to increase fares by up to four times the normal rate during the Sydney hostage crisis generated so much customer feedback that negative sentiment began to trend.

So what do people consider an acceptable response time?

According to The Social Habit, for 32% of consumers it’s within 30 minutes and for 42% within the hour. Half of those believe that should be the case no matter what hour of the day or day of the week it is.

Needless to say most companies are not geared to handle social media inquiries so fast. Many ignore it completely with up to 289 million of those complaints unanswered each year.

Sometimes this is because businesses are heavily invested in other customer service channels, but there’s still low awareness of how important social media has become as a channel.

For as much as poor online customer service angers people, they are just willing to reward businesses for doing so well. 71% will recommend a brand that serves them quickly and well on social media and spend according to Bain between 20 – 40% more with the company.

In a recent survey of online customer feedback, CEO of the Institute of Customer Service Jo Causon, says 39% of customers provide companies with feedback and 31% make pre-sale enquiries.

This is an excellent way for brands to get deep insights and form relationships with customers as well as a source for warm leads.

Immediacy in attention

If you want to get someone’s attention you have only a few seconds to get it and this is playing out very clearly in areas like social advertising.

Facebook now refers to what it calls ‘thumb stopping content’ — the ability to stop someone flicking and scrolling through the news feed long enough to scroll, stop, and watch what you have to say.

This is particularly true of video, the growth of which has been phenomenal with Facebook averaging more than 1 billion video views a day in the last year, around 65% of which are on mobile.

Cisco predicts mobile video will increase 14-fold between 2013 and 2018 and account for 69% of total mobile data traffic — this is one area communicators’ should be focussing their energy.

I recently saw a presentation by a media company that A/B tested two versions of the same ad, the first with prominent company branding on the opening screen, the second with branding introduced after a second. The first ad got 25,000 views, the second closer to 350,000.

To get attention, every second counts. Once you have it, it’s about the longer relationship.

Immediacy in consuming & purchasing

Once again, speed is of the essence when it comes to consuming information or purchasing goods or services.

People are spending an enormous amount of time on smartphones — mostly on apps like Facebook rather than by using traditional search engines like Google.

This makes the conversations on these platforms more important than ever and over 45 million businesses have recognised that by opening a shopfront with a Facebook page.

At Social Media Today, Peter Schauer says brands are flocking to Facebook to open social media stores on the brand Facebook page because it provides another channel to drive sales and increase ROI.

50 million Twitter users a month also signal buying intent with ‘I want’ or ‘I need’ and Twitter has responded by adding a ‘buy now’ button to the feed.

Immediate mobile access to online sites is so important that this year Google started penalising those sites that weren’t optimised for mobile by forcing them lower into search results. Schauer says 30% of shoppers will abandon a website that is not optimised.

Over 50% of shoppers research online before making a purchase, and where they can get that information in real time on a smartphone, 88% make more spontaneous purchasing decisions.

Global social media platforms allow us to access news, people, opinions, and products wherever we are and whenever we want. This has created an expectation of immediacy that will likely increase as we become increasingly globalised.

For communicators, this trend should profoundly impact the way we shape our social media strategy.

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