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Why reaching out is no longer enough

We’ve long been encouraging B2B organisations to be brave and make big step changes in their social media strategies: moving from foundation level brand awareness campaigns to using social platforms for proactive engagement with prospects and customers.

While many brands trying to target business customers were slow to adopt social media in the first instance, often starting with LinkedIn and Twitter, many are now seeing the need to quickly ramp up how they use social media to not only find new customers, but authentically engage with them.

There are many trends that are enabling engagement to become easier. AI and chatbots have become the norm, with more than 100,000 monthly active chat bots in Facebook messenger, so you don’t have to have employees monitoring social activity 24/7. Furthermore the continuing rise of influencers, working on behalf of brands to help them engage and convey key messages in a truly authentic peer to peer manner.  There are now various ways to efficiently engage in conversations with customers in the social arena.

With 80% of audiences now preferring watch rather than read, video has become the staple format of all social media platforms. Now Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram offers hour long vertical video on IGTV, the competition for YouTube is looking fiercer than ever. Therefore, the ability to be able to create animated video, or short video content is a pre-requisite for your social media strategy these days. Many organisations have come to understand that audiences in social media don’t expect high production value videos – so it doesn’t have to be impractical or overly expensive to engage with audiences in this way.

The use of ‘Stories’ has also increased dramatically, being an ideal way to use social media when you’re at an event, and where you have lots going on over the course of a day.  Facebook saw the success of stories in Snapchat and Instagram and were quick to add the feature into Facebook.  And it’s interesting to note that on Instagram, 82% of audiences would rather watch ‘live’ posts than merely read a normal post. ‘Facebook Live’ engagement is 178% higher than their average post engagement. Live content has a feeling of immediacy which works perfectly on social. Users also like the exclusivity feel of a behind the scenes ‘story’ at an event. This means it’s essential to plan events and your social activity well in advance, so you’re fully prepared on the day, to ensure you get the engagement results you need.

The use of polls has also increased, with brands using this tool to test ideas and messages with target audiences. Using the intelligence gathered to help them engage in more meaningful conversations with customers. 

Engagement has also become easier with more sophisticated mobile technologies also playing a part in new engagement opportunities – Snapchat geo filters has soared in popularity. An increase in AR technology also sees filtered camera lenses continuing to be popular with an increase in advertising via these filters. The use of 360 degree photos and touch and hold photos also opens up new opportunities for users to experience new products in a whole new way.

All the social media platforms have recognised this gear shift in brands wanting more and more engagement with customers. This is evidently seen in their analytics dashboards, and in the way they expect brands to set up advertising campaigns on their platforms, with ‘engagement’ objectives now out-trumping ‘reach’ as the primary objective.

Of course, brands are also recognising the importance of being able to continue the conversation with customers beyond social. Using posts to point people to their website for more information is critical, with specific campaign landing pages still being the norm. The customer journey as we all know is becoming increasingly less linear.

But one thing for sure, it’s no longer enough to focus on just reaching new audiences on social media, you’ve got to be using social media in a much more proactive, personal and 121 way these days, after all it’s expected that you do just that by your customers.

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