Picture: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Files
Picture: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Files

Social media, far from being merely a public relations tool or a nice to have, can play a key role in supporting the entire customer journey, moving customers through the entire sales process.

It has the ability to further business objectives and drive tangible business results, says Leandri Janse van Vuuren, MD of Social Media 101, a full-service social media marketing consultancy. “Essentially, a carefully thought-out social media strategy has the ability to enable a more customer-centric sales cycle, allowing potential customers to slot in at various points.”

Used correctly, social media is an incredibly powerful platform which can be used to support the entire customer sales cycle, from creating awareness of brands, purchase consideration, purchase, brand loyalty and even brand advocacy, she says.

In addition, she explains, it can be used for a myriad other purposes including conducting sign-up campaigns; research and surveys to position an organisation as a preferred employer; running re-targeting campaigns; upselling; providing improved customer service; and building brand loyalty.

“Ultimately, the power of social media lies in the data, allowing brands to target the right consumer with the right message, at the right time,” says Janse van Vuuren.

Increasingly, consumers are demanding two-way conversations with the brands they support. Forward thinking brands are realising that there is value in listening to what their customers are saying and then using this information to adapt their offering or approach.

However, in SA at least, most brands are not using social media to its full potential or tapping into its full capabilities, she says. Neither are they thinking their social media strategy through carefully enough.

“Too many brands continue to use a spray and pray approach when it comes to messaging. Not only is the wastage incredibly high with this kind of outdated approach, but with the plethora of data generated by social media, there is no excuse for not utilising a more personalised approach. The benefit of using data properly is that customer conversion rates tend to be significantly higher.”

The key to successful social message campaigns, she advises, is to get both the messaging and targeting right and then tie the loop in terms of the customer journey and customer service. Messaging should be straightforward and not try to be too clever. It should remain true to the brand personality.

“Remember that social media is primarily a private and intimate space. Consumers want brands to be authentic and true to their purpose. As such, any social media strategy should aim for brand recognition rather than try to be too gimmicky or clever. Social media messaging should aim to add value: it’s about giving and then asking, rather than just taking. “Just like nobody likes the person who only talks about themselves, brands too need to focus on listening, being personable and adding value to their customers’ lives with relevant content,” she concludes.

the big take-out:

Social media is an incredibly powerful platform which can be used to support the entire customer sales cycle, from creating awareness of brands, purchase consideration, purchase, brand loyalty and even brand advocacy.

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