May 19, 2016

How do brands engage with consumers, respond to queries?

Long back, we came across a quote something like this: If it is not engaging, it is not social media. 

Yet, for brands, it seems that social media is just another place where they should publicize their brand. Full stop. 

We would come to broad social engagement a bit later. First, a recent study on how brands take customers for granted on social media.
The study by Sprout tells us, brands are poor in responding to customer messages, in many ways.

Brands are also choosy in whom to reply. In spite of the high volume of messages that require a response, brands reply to just 11% of people (a number that’s been stuck in neutral since 2015), the study says.

As if that was not enough, brands take an average of 10 hours to respond, far too late for social media. Sprout says, the average time should not be more than 4 hours, and that if a brand does not respond in time, the customer is likely to move away - possibly to a competitor.
Brands also over-promote themselves. As per this study, the ratio is 23 promotional messages to one response!

Brands beware: engage actively and fast on social media 

Take a leaf from the findings of the study quoted above. The study says,
  • 73% of people have had a negative experience with a brand on social.
  • 36% of people have used social to shame a company for poor customer service.
  • 30% of people will go to competitor if a brand doesn’t respond.

Are brands even telling their stories well?

Responding poorlyis the second part of their indifference. The first one is: brands are not even telling what should be told and in a way that the audience listens.

Most brands just broadcast what they want to. The tone usually is: my product is fantastic... you are lucky to have seen it... look at the photo / video... click here to buy it...

Some of the brands utilize the services of big marketing and advertising companies who tell them how to create interest... play with emotions... induce worry and then give solution... tell stories... share the good words others are saying about your product...

But hardly any brand is seen on the web unselfishly helping people to solve their little problems. Seldom is a brand seen holding a hand needing help, using the so powerful tool called social media. If there are offers or discounts, these come only to lure you

In this money chase, customer is a 'use and throw' guy whom they treat with the contempt, 'get away if you ain't buying'. 

There are brands that care. These are the brands who engage through different means of communication. They have you in mind not only as a potential or real customer, but also a well-wisher, a friend. Social media offers a highly effective tool to them for such engagement. 

What is social engagement, by the way?

Hubspot carried an article sometime back in which it talked of responses of Chief Marketing Officers of 45 companies. They found that 9 out of 10 of them didn't know how to engage with customers. 

The following statement of Hubspot resonates with what we said above. It says, The biggest barrier to engagement is the lack of trust. Building trust involves unselfishness, which means 'delivering what is in the best interest of the other person in the relationship.'  
"Ah!" You might say, "What help do the top web brands such as Wikipedia and National Geographic do to customers?" We need not elaborate but just request you to look what their product is and who their customers are. You will agree that they are helping more than most mediocre brands. An great brand of yester-years, Encyclopedia Britannica, lost badly when it acted small-hearted and asked people to shell out money for information (info that was getting fast curated on the web); now it offers lots of information for free, but is not among the top brands as it could not recoup its earlier reputation.  

By the way, giving one's products free is not always the best way to help others. You can help with genuine information on how to choose the best product, comparisons, ideas that people can use, fast and excellent customer service, answering queries and offering solutions, and perhaps some free stuff too.

Brands, we pray to you to engage with customers on social media and help them solve their problems. If not, your brand will turn a dodo in no time.