Customers see your social media as an informational tool.
It's that connection - or the purpose behind it - that you need to understand and protect at all costs. Because the way that you see your social media presence and the way that your customers see it (and what they expect of it) can be two very different things if you aren't careful. If that happens, you haven't just damaged this valuable connection - you've potentially severed it in a way that you'll have a hard time recovering from, if you're able to do so at all.
They See Your Social Media as an Informational Tool
Over the last few years in particular, consumers have quickly stopped using social networking as a marketing channel and have instead turned towards using it as an informational and educational resource, plain and simple.
This is part of the reason why the collateral that you create with a tool like Visme (which I founded) matters so much on the digital frontier. People aren't going to follow you on Twitter because they love your ad copy. They want you to teach them why your products are worth investing in and how to get the most out of those purchases.
This is why, when you create something like a presentation or a graph, you need to make sure that it's born out of a helpful, informative place instead of a cold, calculated marketing one. Likewise, when you embrace OTT platforms like Uscreen to create your own branded apps to push out content like videos, the same mentality applies.
People aren't going to download your app because they want easy access to commercials. They want tutorials. They want question and answer sessions. They want information and they want YOU to give it to them in the easiest possible way.
That is the shape that online marketing takes in 2018 and rest assured that this is a trend that shows no signs of reversing course anytime soon.
They See Your Social Media as an Extension of Your Customer Service Arm
But even more than as a straight informational tool, your customers see your social media presence as not only a major part of your customer service efforts, but perhaps the most important part there is.
Consider the fact that according to one recent study, answering a complaint on social media can increase customer advocacy by as much as 25%. Not answering that complaint, however, can decrease customer advocacy by as much as 50%.
Likewise, a full 40% of people who responded to the same survey said that if they reach out to you on social media with a problem, they expect at least some type of response (even something as simple as "we're working on it") within the hour.
Social media is a direct connection between your brand and the people you're trying to serve. Your job is to establish that connection - not dictate how, when and why it can be used. People are going to employ social media in a variety of different ways, but most of them are increasingly seeing it as a replacement for sending you an email or picking up the phone and giving your customer service reps a call.
Your audience has already told you how they'd like you to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more. It's up to you to listen to them.
In the end, the lesson here should be overwhelmingly clear by now. The unique people who make up your audience see your social media profiles on sites like Facebook and Twitter in a wide range of different ways, but almost none of them have anything to do with straight marketing in the traditional sense of the term.
They see these pages as an outlet to be informed - to learn more about what you're doing and why that matters. They see them as invaluable customer service resources - places to go to get answers to questions or solutions to problems.
But if you think they see them as an outlet to get digital versions of traditional advertisements, you're very mistaken. That's something you need to come to terms with now so you can better position yourself in the right way moving forward.
About the Author:
Payman Taei is the founder of Visme, an easy-to-use online tool to create engaging presentations, infographics, and other forms of visual content. He is also the founder of HindSite Interactive, an award-winning Maryland digital agency specializing in website design, user experience and web app development.