By Shellie Vornhagen, CXO at Emplifi
Social media has become an essential part of consumers’ lives and brands know they need to be investing their marketing spend on platforms like Instagram, Facebook and TikTok to maintain and nurture their relationships with consumers. So, with social media consumption at an all-time high, what consumer-driven trends do brands need to be aware of that will impact the customer experience (CX) on key social channels over the next year? And how can they build more immersive, personalised and long-lasting connections with their followers for the year ahead?
Connecting the social CX
As a result of the rapid digital transformation induced by the pandemic, brands are learning that digital experiences need to be better connected. CX is no longer linear, and many of the touchpoints on the customer journey are happening on social media. Now, consumers want to not only research and discover products on social media, but to interact with them, ask questions and leverage AR to try them on for size. They also want to purchase in a seamless, intuitive way and receive service in the same channel.
This year, we can expect brands to focus more energy on trying to close the CX gap on key social platforms. The most efficient way to do this is to utilise best-in-class CX tools with integrated social capabilities. By sharpening their toolset across the customer journey on key social platforms, brands will give themselves the competitive edge they need in this cut-throat consumer race. On the flip side, brands that neglect to address the CX gap will struggle to stay relevant and build lasting, meaningful relationships with their followers.
Providing personalised social commerce
This year, social commerce will continue to reinvent the digital shopping experience. Even consumers who previously swore they preferred the brick-and-mortar experience have adopted the convenience of social commerce during the pandemic and likely won’t be reverting. As such, an increasing number of social networks are investing significant resources in launching new social shopping features. Snap is leading the charge in AR technology to power virtual trying-on, Instagram launched its Shops, which are essentially digital storefronts, and TikTok recently rolled out a suite of new shopping tools to place its stake in the ground when it comes to the battle for the commerce buck.
UK brands investing in social commerce must provide more personalised customer interactions, such as virtual agents who can answer questions in real time, share the latest offers, or recommend additional products to the consumer. We’ll also see more brands provide opportunities to connect via video on key social commerce channels throughout the customer journey, from one-to-one live video shopping experiences to virtual video boutiques and influencer live-streams. The third component to great social commerce experience is care. Brands must provide excellent care on social platforms, and that can only be done at scale by using the right customer care technology combined with the human touch.
Automating social listening and community management
Over the next 12 months, listening to your audience across all social platforms will be essential to learn what’s trending and driving conversion, and to better understand brand sentiment. Data from web and social channels, for example, should be utilised to create content that audiences want to see. Last year, Live video had a direct impact on social engagement, with followers interacting significantly more with live videos than with other types of posts. In 2022, using AI-enabled data and insights to identify such trends will enable brands to maximise the value of each piece of content, providing more engaging customer experiences that stand out from the competition.
Additionally, AI can help brands to process incoming social messages and posts in real-time, assigning priority levels to prevent teams from having to sift through every comment on social channels for the most urgent cases manually. AI-driven chat bots can also be utilised to answer the most common questions, addressing generic enquiries so that employees can focus on critical queries that require a more human touch. Brands can also track key online community metrics via one reporting dashboard, including sentiment, the volume and progress of cases and response times. Ultimately, using AI to track overall effectiveness will ensure that a brand’s social community management efforts are optimised.
Over the next year, we can expect brands to take what they learned during the pandemic and leverage technology-driven solutions to build deeper, long-lasting connections with their online communities. Only by creating immersive, more personalised customer experiences via key social platforms will brands excel in 2022.