Analysing consumer behaviour on social media is like drinking from a fire hose. There is so much information to absorb, that it can at times feel counter productive to even look at it. But from every data set, trends emerge, and we now have a pretty good idea of what users want from businesses on social media.
With this in mind, let’s analyse how consumers want to engage with social media brands.
Don’t Fear Criticism
People love to complain, most of all customers. So it comes as no surprise that consumers use social media as a tool to lodge complaints directly against the brands they use. While it might be tempting to be indifferent or even bearish towards criticism, it can actually be an opportunity to help build loyalty with your customers.
By in large, consumers voice their frustration because they want a problem to be solved. So when a brand takes steps to publically interact with these people, it makes the brand seem both more human and more concerned with customer welfare.
McDonalds, Domino's and Wendy’s have used this tactic to great effect. There have been several cases of ordinary customers on Twitter levelling complaints about the service from these businesses. In response, these businesses retweeted their complaints to their main account, and offered up apologies and their assistance. Users have overwhelmingly greeted this kind of professional self-awareness with respect rather than scorn. Ironically, shining a light on criticism can be used to help a brand rather than hurt it.
More Than Just The Marketers
If you’re marketing on social media, you should have accounts that represent the entire brand. Your business needs to have central accounts where all your big announcements are made. However, customers on social media want to hear from more than just the brand.
Customers want to hear from everyone. This means employees, managers, and most importantly, CEOs. Over 70% of users say that they are more likely to feel connected to a brand when its CEO is active on social media. Having a CEO that participates in social media discussions helps to build a deeper connection between brand and customer. It lets users feel that they’re not just being marketed to, and that there are actual people dedicated to the product.
It’s no great surprise that customers hate waiting. You’d expect that customers wish to be dealt with quickly after contacting your brand on social media. What you mightn’t expect is that after making a request to your social media accounts, 42% of customers expect a response within an hour. While its unreasonable to expect a business to respond to all posts immediately, the expectation still points to an important principle. Customers want to feel that a business is listening, and is eager to help. Having marketers constantly fielding questions is a good way to achieve that.
A Place For Everything
Not all social media platforms are created equal. By offering different experiences to consumers, it comes as no surprise that users interact with the platforms differently. Consequently, your brand is interacted with differently depending on what service you’re using.
For instance, formal ads are likely to get much more engagement on Facebook than on any other social media platform. Among other things, the site has much more data on users, allowing you to more easily tailor ads to their interest. Facebook also has a larger breadth of customers, so it’s easier to find your niche.
By contrast, Twitter ads get a lot less traction than Facebook ads. However, customers are much more likely to use Twitter to directly communicate with a brand. They are also more likely to follow a brand on Twitter for updates, as the immediacy of the platform lends itself to breaking news.
Ironically, Instagram marketing works best when the branding is not done directly by the brand. Audiences are much more amenable to brand messaging on the platform when it is done by an influencer rather than an official brand account.
All of this is to say that even if you are talking to the same audience, they don’t want the same thing from platform to platform. The medium matters, and expectations change depending on which one is being used.
Billions of people now use social media. It’s become a marketing necessity, and for many advertisers, it’s been an adjustment. But at its core, audiences want the same thing from social media brands that they want from any brand. They want to feel heard, they want products of quality, and they want their problems dealt with quickly. So though social media branding might feel different, it’s fundamentally undergirded by the same principles.