In addition to a means of keeping in touch with friends and with current events, social networks are fast becoming a touch point on every step of the customer journey.

The average American adult now has 6.6 social media accounts, meaning that multi-networking is now the norm. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube are now so established in people’s lives they’re much more than platforms for connecting friends and family or for providing viral entertainment.

Social media: a channel for commerce

According to the most recent GlobalWebIndex (GWI) study into social networking habits, 40 percent of adults now view social channels as a means of keeping up with the news, 42 percent use them for researching and identifying products to buy and 20 percent use them for following their favorite brands.

“People are now just as likely to follow a company or a celebrity as they are their friends and family – and this highlights the impact major networks have in helping foster a community and a conversation around brands and their products,” explains Gordon White, General Manager TSC Americas. “Social media is the channel for building loyalty and advocacy post-purchase, especially since that advocacy will help feed new customers into the sales funnel.”

A social customer journey

Social networks are now part of the awareness, consideration and purchase stages of the customer journey. Visiting Amazon to read reviews is part of the customer journey for 52 percent of U.S. consumers. However, Deloitte’s report into U.S. consumer holiday spending trends finds that one in four consumers will look to these various networks for advice on what gifts to purchase. And when asked to rate which voices they trust the most, those of brands themselves came third (56 percent) behind friends (75 percent) and family (74 percent).

“Brands’ organic reach is in decline because consumers are becoming immune to traditional forms of advertising,” says White. “Instead we’re increasingly influenced by what our peer groups think. This is particularly true of Generations Y and Z who will consider between five and 12 reviews and posts before deciding to buy a product.”

More engagement, more information

Data from social media analytics firm Shareablee, shows shoppers who engage with a retailer via social channels spend on average 19 percent more than the average consumer and that over the course of the past 12 months, U.S. retailers have seen a 46 percent increase in social-influenced clicks.

The 2018 Consumer Expectations Report from Avionos found that 55 percent of consumers are going further than clicking and consideration and have purchased a product via a social network.

And the reason why shoppers are starting to feel comfortable using Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat as retail channels is because of the wealth of information on offer.

GWI data shows one of the major drivers is the way that a service like Instagram can overlap the different customer journey stages in one digital space. One in three Americans who have bought direct via social media said that these platforms offer a better view of the product in question; while 20 percent point to how they can see products their friends have engaged with and a further 20 percent point to the fact that products are aligned with trends and influencers.

A channel for conversation and conversion

“If managed correctly, a brand’s social media channels should create a space devoted to the free exchange of customer ideas, comments and opinions,” White points out. “That same space also provides a platform for a brand to be proactive in this conversation. The right engagement increases its authenticity, transparency and most importantly, how much customers trust the brand.”

Consumers increasingly crave information about the products they like and want to purchase. Avionos’ study finds that shoppers feel more confident about making the purchase if there is detailed information about the product and available specifications.

And, by continuing to talk with customers via social channels after the purchase, loyalty and eventual advocacy are built that will in turn feed back into the sales funnel.

Identifying influencers is crucial

“Your customers are your biggest brand ambassadors and are a voice that can be heard above the general noise made by traditional forms of advertising,” White says. “Their posts and opinions are going to show up in friends’ news feeds and receive the attention that sponsored content won’t.”

This is why it’s crucial to identify who your brand’s key influencers are and build a relationship with them. “These people speak with passion and with authenticity about your products and services,” explains White. “The content they create is crucial in your marketing mix. Influencers who have built up their position by being experts rather than being famous convert eight times as many followers.”

The Social Media Week 2018 Influencer Marketing Report underlines the impact that the right influencers can have on your brand. Even though just 6 percent of U.S. adults say that an influencer’s endorsement is the biggest factor when making a purchasing decision, 48 percent of Americans have purchased a product after learning about it via an online influencer and one third of adults admit to following an influencer on Facebook.

From customer journey mapping to social media management, social listening and identifying and activating brand influencers, Sitel Group can help your organization build its brand across social networks and to better engage customers.


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