Hey Retail! Get Serious About Social Engagement


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Hey Retail! It's time for your business to get serious about social engagement. Learn more in our whitepaper.

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Hey Retail! Get Serious About Social Engagement

  1. 1. hey, retail! get serious about social customer engagement
  2. 2. 2 share this whitepaper lithium.com | © 2013 Lithium Technologies, Inc. All Rights Reserved Lithium social software helps the world’s most iconic brands increase loyalty, reduce support costs, drive word-of-mouth marketing, and accelerate innovation. Lithium helps brands to build vibrant customer communities that: contents 1 intro 2 social customer engagement for retail 4 what does ‘enaged’ look like? 5 relationships, deep engagement 6 how to build stong relationships with customers 7 trust vs. relevance 8 co-creating long-term value request a demo subscribe to SocialMatters reduce service costs with social support grow brand advocay with social marketing drive sales with social commerce innovate faster with social innovation
  3. 3. 1 share this whitepaper Imagine a time when your acquisition strategy is roaring. Your brand’s message is set to go viral, your sensational social media strategies are clicking away, and you are launching the greatest virtual cocktail party social has ever seen. The music is great; the drinks are flowing; and the crowd pulses to the beat of your brand. Through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc., your foray into the social customer experience has now attracted the perfect set of consumers. These consumers, or as we call them, superfans, are fully engaged and really dig your products. They are both interested in and capable of bringing serious value to your company. These superfans are so passionate that they will donate their time and skills to help your company with support, marketing and innovation. If you play your cards right by effectively engaging, empowering and inspiring them to do so, these customers will keep your social party happy and growing, now and far into the future. Social customer engagement, however, is no easy task. Your customers are constantly swamped with invitations to connect with other brands through social media. Their limited time and attention, together with their invaluable loyalty, will go to those who win on the social customer experience. That’s why your engagement strategy is so important—in order to take on the competition. intro
  4. 4. 2 share this whitepaper social customer engagement for retail Social engagement is not just about technology. It’s about social customers themselves who have permanently disrupted the traditional, sales-based business model. The opportunities of this tectonic shift challenge retailers to engage their social customers with more than price alone. Market share now increasingly goes to brands that master the customer experience in stores and online mastering the social customer experience in stores and online. Engagement is about nurturing prospects and cultivating customer relationships. It picks up what your social customer acquisition strategy delivers, and then ratchets it up to the next level. Taken together, your acquisition strategy and customer engagement form the tactics that sustain the social customer’s attention span and make customers want to stay with you rather than give their attention to other competitors. US social commerce sales, 2011-2015 Sales of physical goods through online social networks will grow by 93% per year in the US, reaching $14 billion by 2015. Source: Booz & Co. 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 $1B $3B $5B $9B $14B
  5. 5. 3 share this whitepaper Let’s dig deeper into these relationships in the context of the customer experience and discover how brands can build strong, lasting and valuable relationships with their customers. We’ll unveil the essential differences between public social networks and communities highlighting topics like interaction, trust and relevance. Then we’ll show why social networks are better for acquisition, but that channels like Facebook and Twitter have some deal-breaking limitations when it comes to customer engagement. Finally, we’ll explore how to co-create value with and between customers, and how communities and superfans play special roles in winning the social customer experience.   80% 74% 72% 42% 32% because of social media, I am more likely to: Try new things based on friends’ suggestions Encourage my friends to try new products Stay more engaged with the brands I like Share any negative experiences with brands or products Not buy certain products because I learned of a negative customer experience Source: CMO Council
  6. 6. 4 share this whitepaper what does ‘enaged’ look like? Truly engaged customers are more than enthusiastic fans. They’re interactive participants in activities that help define your brand’s value. Consider the following social customer activities and behaviors: From consumption to co-creation, social customers engage at various levels of activity. To foster engagement, we need to find and nurture users inclined to progress through those increasing levels of activity until they are co-creating value with you. This process involves moving your social customers from simply connecting with your brand to interacting with it. Connection vs. Interaction Your acquisition strategy is naturally designed to help you make lots of connections (e.g. likes, fans, followers, and friends) which are fairly simple to make and easy to maintain. Think of connection as the active engagement. Measuring success solely by the number of connections you’re able to make through social media is a very common practice for businesses today. While it is important to connect with customers, just having a lot of likes and followers does not constitute a business. To be competitive you need those connections to engage in a way that is profitable for everyone. It’s critical to remember that each connection we make with a social customer only has potential value. Interaction is what turns simple customer connections into valuable assets—assets that drive influence and build loyalty. They’re what fuel the social customer experience to make your social investment really pay off. So, while connections certainly have value, interactions (a much stronger form of engagement) have much greater value. Connections must interact with your brand and other customers in order to drive: 1. Influence—through interactions, customer connections generate stronger, more trusted relationships, higher participation (support, help), and user-generated content (reviews, knowledge articles, or advocacy) that can significantly affect consumer purchase decisions. 2. Loyalty—interactions build the stronger and deeper customer-brand relationships that lead to persistent consumption of your products and services. Your role is to empower your best customers to interact in ways that benefit them, you, and other customers. Those interactions—and their resulting relationships—are what you are trying to make fun, easy, and mutually rewarding.
  7. 7. 5 share this whitepaper relationships, deep engagement The goal of engagement is to build and strengthen relationships with and between your customers. Building any relationship, however, requires interacting with the other party. You can’t bring your social customers home with you like a team of enthusiastic new recruits, run off to the office for a week, and then expect them to wear your jersey or go to bat for you. You must faithfully, consciously interact with them in order to get them to respond to you, know and value you just as you do in return. Interactions are much harder to maintain than connections because they require persistent actions over time. Social networks determine who connects with whom, but they don’t determine who interacts with whom, or how. That’s up to the social customers themselves—and what drives those interactive decisions is their own personal inspiration. Your job is to find out how to tap into that inspiration. Strong and Weak Ties—We Need Both Not every relationship within a social network is equally strong or reciprocated. We all have a range of relationship strengths and interaction depths. This is what we mean by tie-strength. Some relationships in social networks are strong and some are weak depending on your relationship with that person. In social networks, we need both. Weak ties give your messages reach, helping you to reach a wider audience. By virtue of their diversity and sheer number, weak ties tend to propagate brand messages further and to more disparate parts of the social network. Strong ties, on the other hand, are what lead to loyalty, repeat purchases, persistent consumption and ultimately, advocacy.
  8. 8. 6 share this whitepaper Here are the pillars of a basic social strategy for strengthening relationships with (and between) your customers. 1. Time Time spent together increases tie strength. Most importantly, the desire to spend time together has to be mutual. Strategy: Know when your customers want to spend time with you and be there for them. 2. Intensity Intensity is the most difficult component to control. The intensity a customer feels for a brand will always be less than it is for a friend, however, when you tap into your customers’ passions, finding topics they care about, your chances for creating that intensity improve. Strategy: Appeal to greater causes—things that have higher meaning that your customers feel strongly about—not just for your brand. 3. Trust Transparent communication channels create an environment that’s more conducive to building trust. In this case we’re talking about two types of transparency: B2C—business-to-customer (your outbound messages on social channels), and C2C— customer-to-customer (peer-to-peer community discussions). Also, because people trust themselves, they tend to trust brands that co-create with them. Here we’re talking about two types of co-creation: passive co-creation (listening and collecting customer input), and active co-creation (crowdsourcing and collaboratively filtering customer- generated ideas). Strategy: Create transparent and authentic communication channels to and among customers, and co-create with them. 4. Reciprocity Reciprocity means two-way reciprocal services—both from B2C, and from C2C. Your job is to make it easy for your customers to help other customers of yours, and then to reward them properly. Strategy: Let your customers help you—and one another! A small investment from the customer is valuable in building deeper relationships, but it must be voluntary. how to build stong relationships with customers
  9. 9. 7 share this whitepaper Deep engagement requires both trust and relevance. When either quality is lacking, the odds of conversion plummet. Creating trust and relevance, however, are not equally possible over any social media channel. Social networks and communities have different strengths and an effective social strategy plays to them. A social network is there to maintain established relationships. A community is there to build relationships around a common interest. Social networks have high levels of trust because they’re comprised of people we already know and trust. Communities, on the other hand, have high levels of relevance, because everyone gathers there around a common interest. Relevance is what gives you depth—without it your engagement tactics will stall. Without relevance your non- photographer friends might still look at the camera you recommended because you—a strong tie—recommended it over Facebook, but they won’t actually buy it. They won’t buy it if it isn’t already relevant to their needs, interests and desires. Conversion requires relevance. Here’s where it gets interesting: It is vastly easier to build trust than it is to create relevance. Specifically, it’s easier to create trust within a community that already has relevance, than it is to create relevance within a social network that already has trust. We can build trust within a community, but relevance is very hard to create—especially among strong ties—unless it already exists.   trust vs. relevance Social networks feature high levels of trust. Communities feature high levels of relevance. It is vastly easier to cultivate trust than to create relevance.
  10. 10. 8 share this whitepaper Within a community it’s shared interest without ulterior motive that forms the foundation for trust-building communication. That’s your engagement strategy’s target: common interest. Connect and build weak ties based on a common interest, then strengthen those ties through engaging interactions within the community. In turn, the relationships that grow into strong ties get maintained over social networks. Public sites that use stream interactions (like Facebook fan page wall feeds or Twitter streams) are great for news discovery. On the other hand, they tend to be very noisy channels and only support relatively shallow conversations. Deep conversation is key to engagement and to building relationships. What keeps your customers engaged for the long term isn’t rank, special icons or points so much as the sense that they are helping you create something of actual value to themselves, other fans, the company and society. We’re talking about things like contributing ideas that make it into products, authoring articles for knowledge bases, answering questions for support forums, or spreading the word far more efficiently than your company ever could. Loyalty itself is a long-term value. The long-term strategy for your social customers’ engagement is about setting up a trusted community. It’s about creating an engaging social customer experience through which consumers can access trusted, relevant content, where you can build and strengthen relationships, and where you can foster value co-creation between customers and the brand. Value for everyone means everyone wins. co-creating long-term value awareness interest desire action .