In the social media age, consumers are more informed than ever. They want to find out what solutions you offer in detail, or even to try them out before they buy. They want to know what the benefits are – experientially. This calls for a sync between Internet of Things (IoT) and social media.
The plethora of choices available today also means that the consumer must be convinced and converted into a believer and advocate. This cannot be achieved with traditional media when you are thinking on a larger scale.
Over the last few years, social media has been seriously endeavoring to enhance customer experience (CX), and the statistics below support that trend.
- 43% of consumers are more likely to purchase something that they have heard about through social media. If they hear about it from family and friends, they are 77% more likely to buy it. (Nielsen)
- A Facebook fan is valued at 174 dollars in certain categories (Syncapse)
The need for solutions is often the result of many entities doing something poorly or customers who have consistently had bad experiences. Your goal is to really pick that problem apart and explain to the customer why your solution is better than others, why it will last, and why it protects the customer against the problem in the long term. Tell them how and why you are helping them. You must also describe the supporting organizational infrastructure of your solution.
The Internet of Things or IoT, as it is popularly known, is continuously changing the way customer interactions happen. These changes open up doors to understanding how customers are consuming products and how they feel with respect to your product or service.
According to Gartner, there will be nearly 26 billion devices on the internet of things by 2020. By that time, IDC says that 10 percent of all data in the world will come from machines talking to one another.
What can social media marketers expect from IoT?
Right now, IoT is a buzz word that everyone is talking about due to its huge potential, but not many people have found a way to put it to real use. Among the biggest potential benefits of IoT is convenience and the way it can shape customer experiences. Orchestrating customer experience on social media can be a humongous task, given the number of activities and connections needed to establish a presence.
Check this out for some statistics:
- Facebook users share nearly 2.5 million pieces of content.
- Twitter users tweet nearly 300,000 times.
- Instagram users post nearly 220,000 new photos.
- YouTube users upload 72 hours of new video content.
- Apple users download nearly 50,000 apps.
- Email users send over 200 million messages.
- Amazon generates over $80,000 in online sales.
As complicated as it might sound at the outset, the connection is not that confusing! IoT needs social media, and this integration will be key to deciphering information and improving customer experiences (CX) on social media.
The first step is collaborating and correlating data across social media platforms or even APIs. In fact, Facebook has already recognized this and at their F8 developers’ conference in March 2015, Facebook launched their first big IoT initiative with Parse.
“In a couple of years from now, all of the devices connected to us and among them are going to become just one seamless flow of information,” said Roost CEO Roel Peeters.
Why should social media marketers be interested?
Mobile devices and apps are not just for the millennials anymore—they are where most of us are interacting or shopping. Integrating these devices more tightly will help us to use social media as a main source of critical information. For instance, with the increase in the number of devices, alerts and notifications can be critical as long as they are relevant. Imagine if you, as a marketer, could send relevant notifications and alerts based on the location your prospect is currently in—how greatly would it improve the customer experience and how contextual would it be?
How is IOT social media’s trajectory?
Gartner says that there will be 25-35 billion IoT devices by 2020, and IoT will comprise more than 6.4 billion devices by the end of 2016. This means that there will be more data points for social media marketers to measure.
Before getting into the data points, it is important to ask yourself some key questions, such as “What is the RoI you are driving and is it the right data point to be measured?
“What is the outcome that you expect out of this activity?”
Too often, “catching up with peers” is what I have heard, and it shows—often, these measures have absolutely no correlation to sales or any specific outcomes. Hence these measures tend to be quickly categorized with less-profitable decisions, and they are thought of as “good to have” rather than “must have.”
It is important to clearly plan:
- What to measure
- When to measure
- How to measure
Once you have a clear objective—perhaps you are aiming to drive better customer experience or improve solution- to-prospect fit—the integration of IoT and social media might give you great information.
Typically, key information that you can get from social media includes:
- Buying patterns and habits across social platforms to improve CX
- Real-time information on how consumers are interacting with the products using their devices
- Knowledge of whether customer service is really enhancing the evaluation/buying experience of consumers and whether they really want to be interrupted
- Insights into where prospects are in the buying cycle and how you can nurture them
With this critical information, social marketers can revisit the way they are segmenting their target audience and thus directly impact the customer acquisition and retention ratios. Additionally, marketers can use this data to improve social interactions in real-time and greatly enhance personalization. Social marketers can predict the development of communities and use these methods to reach potential customers at the right time and monetize based on identified trends.
Using IoT to be in sync with your customers
A survey of an e-commerce organization revealed that 84% of people in the marketing department believed that customer engagement would become the primary driver of growth. We are living in a time where we are spoilt for choice. Customer loyalty is going out of fashion, even for organizations that were once the trusted destinations in their markets.
Today’s CMOs need to aggregate all customer-related information. They must have an intimate understanding of the customer’s entire buying journey. They must bring customer awareness into focus for the entire organization. At all levels, there must be consciousness of the customer’s experience.
Rob Tarkoff, former senior VP and manager of Adobe, believes that customer focus is a product of the digital effect. The modern market is much more personal than it was in the past. Certain industries, according to Tarkoff, must be especially focused on this area, such as telecoms, retail and banking.
This is because customer churn, LTV (lifetime value), and RPU (revenue per user) are critical data in those sectors. Tarkoff believes that consumers currently control the entire conversation; furthermore, he believes that they seek a better experience for each dollar they spend rather than more product. He believes in being a chief customer advocate and claims that if organizations do not focus on this strategy, they will be left behind.
To be in sync with your customer, you need to build a strong omni-channel strategy as they switch between devices throughout the buying process. In fact, the full mutual benefits—for both marketers and shoppers—of implementing an omni-channel strategy are realized when brands tell their story and fulfill their promise in a consistent, intelligent and personal manner across all available channels.
I had the opportunity to interview Avi Lambert, the CEO of Photonic Public Relations, an organization based out of Vancouver that helps organizations with brand repositioning and business model strategies. Lambert shared, “We see most of our customers wanting to digitize almost everything. They want to cut across channels, communication tools and points of interactions.”
This can only be achieved if all of your brand communication vehicles are operationally and creatively synchronized and all of your brand stories are tracked, monitored, measured and optimized for compliance and efficacy across all channels.
Here are some steps you need to keep in mind:
- Review your products through your customers’ eyes
The first step to building an omni-channel social strategy is to view your service experience through the eyes of your client. To discover how to best connect with your customer, it’s critical to understand how they think and feel about your product.
On a regular basis, go through your experience the way a customer would. This means that you should research, purchase, and connect with your products or services. Seek to identify areas that are lacking or are in need of improvement.
This allows you to figure out what’s working in your experience and what’s not.
- Measure your experience
One of the benefits of social media is that it allows you to connect intimately with your customers. To build an omni-channel marketing strategy, one of the first things you need to do is find out what inspires your customers, drives them to smile, and helps them solve problems.
If your omni-channel strategy is going to work, it’s critical to know your customer.
One of the best ways to do this is to use your existing social accounts to measure, analyze and connect with your customers.
Over time, you’ll be able to use this data to alter your omni-channel digital strategy accordingly.
For your social media accounts to influence your omni-channel strategy well, you’ll need to do everything in your power to track and manage your channels, adjusting them accordingly.
- Use a data-driven approach to your strategy
To make your omni-channel approach as functional and targeted as possible, it’s wise to use all of the data you can glean from your social platforms.
By implementing the existing data in an intelligent way, you can easily develop a broad-reaching and holistic overview of your customers.
This, in turn, allows you to better cater to their needs and to offer them the value they want, thus making their online experiences more pleasurable.
- Make it personal
To take your omni-channel strategy to higher levels, the next step is to make it as personal as possible.
This means that when customers reach out to your brand via social media, or when you receive accolades or complaints on your accounts, it’s important to respond and leverage the power of the personal connection.
By responding to your customers directly, encouraging them to engage with your company, and thanking them when they do, you will build a personalized, targeted omni-channel approach that works.
- Help your customers move
The final step in building a solid omni-channel strategy is assisting your clients in moving through your funnel.
By utilizing various social channels to help your clients become more involved with your brand, you not only relate more to your customers, but you also make it easier for them to connect with your brand wherever they may be.
This, in turn, creates a relatable, approachable brand as well as a social strategy that’s fantastic for pushing customers through various stages of the sales funnel.
To put it another way, omni-channel marketing pushes you to reach a point of 1-1 communication with customers.
Get in sync!
In short, IoT is moving marketing into the next phase, especially if it is well integrated with social media. For instance, consider a situation in which a customer is having a poor experience with your product; that could trigger an alert to your social listening team and they could get in touch with the customer to help him out. This would be possible only with IoT and social media working together, as IoT contributes to social data aggregation.
Are you in sync?