Is social media the key to urgent customers?
The pandemic has changed the world in many ways, with the evolution of consumers behaviour online being a crucial shift for brands looking to interact with their audience.
Research shows that more than seven in ten online consumers recognise how the pandemic has driven long-term changes in their behaviours and preferences. However, unsurprisingly consumers can’t predict how much their tastes and habits will continue to change, meaning brands will always be one step behind.
The new challenge brands are facing is the struggle to provide instant experiences for their customers. With brands like RyanAir and Specsavers winning over consumers with their down-to-earth content and witty responses on social media platforms like TikTok, there is an increasing need to provide consumers with more interactive customer experiences on social media.
To remain front of mind to consumers brands must use social media strategically to promote all facets of the consumer journey, from product discovery to queries. With consumers chasing the “get what you want, when you want it” experience, rapidly providing support, information, and solutions is now critical to success.
Instant gratification is shaping the post-pandemic world
One of the leading behavioural changes that have impacted the consumer-brand relationship since the pandemic has been the growing desire for instant gratification. Instant gratification is the urge to satisfy a craving immediately. This phenomenon was nurtured by the slow pace of life during the pandemic and the feeling that many had missed out key moments during this period.
As a result, consumers seek out faster and more convenient experiences in all aspects of their lives. From how they consume media and how they shop online to the speed at which they receive feedback. This cultural shift has impacted how multiple industries approach their production and delivery processes.
Ultimately, this culture of urgency has shaped the consumer demand for better brand experiences. This can be seen in the meteoric rise of rapid grocery delivery companies like Gopuff, Getir and Gorillas, as well as the general shift towards immediacy that we have seen across retail and on social media in recent years.
Peer-to-peer approaches are key to reaching new consumers
In an increasingly polarised society, consumers want to interact and communicate with like-minded people. As such, it’s important that brands are present in those communities by creating consistent customer experiences within social media.
The easiest way is to ensure brands are speaking their consumers' language. Social media provides the platform not only rapidly to respond to consumer queries but also to join in dialogues that are important to them, establishing a trustworthy community.
The cultural shift consumers have experienced, where trust in traditional media is lost, means that consumers are placing more emphasis on everyone having a voice. Consumers would rather hear responses on a peer-to-peer level rather than receive a top-down institutional response - this ultimately shapes their preferred medium of interaction. For this reason, brands must embrace this change rather than run from it.
By responding to queries on social media openly rather than being rerouted through lengthy call centres, brands can remove unnecessary friction and help consumers feel heard. Social media can provide seamless experiences from product discovery to consumer queries.
In addition, each social media platform plays a unique role in fulfilling the niche requirements of consumers. Social media users want and expect different responses from brands across different platforms. For example, up to half of Twitter users expect a brand to respond to their tweet within three hours, and those that fail to meet this expectation risk losing customers. On TikTok, consumers want brands to teach them something or show how their product can benefit them.
The nuance between different platforms lies in the purpose, language, and tone of voice of the content. Not only does this boost customer satisfaction but it drives up retention rates as almost half of social media users are more likely to buy again and recommend a company to a friend if it provides them with a timely response.
Emphasising consumer engagement will pay dividends
It is essential for brands to gain a deeper understanding of their consumer ecosystems and to understand who is driving and sharing brand-focused conversations - they can only achieve this by being present where their consumers are engaging. Brands need to join in with influencers, employee advocates, and consumers themselves in order to generate authentic connections and consumer-led content.
The majority of social media marketers support this approach and say that building an active online community is crucial to establishing a successful social media strategy in the current landscape.
Managing consumer responses across social media channels can be a daunting challenge for brands stepping into the digital space. But with 66% of branded communities saying that their digital audience has led to increased loyalty, it is well worth the time and resources to focus on engaging with consumers effectively and building impactful communities.
Brands must be fast, consistent, and understanding in their interactions with consumers. Fulfilling the instant needs of consumers through social media is often overlooked but it can and does go a long way to help brands demonstrate their attention to consumer' needs in a hyper-visible space and deepen relationships that can last a lifetime.