Admit it: your Twitter feed is open in another tab right now. And probably FaceBook too. And if you open your phone, Instagram is just a touch away. In the age of social media, it’s hard not to be engaged all the time, constantly checking to see how many hearts that last post got or refreshing feeds to see if there’s any update on retweets and mentions. It’s only natural for human beings to seek out approval, and for marketers, it’s a job requirement.
However, in an age of content saturation when most posts only get about two shares (two shares!?), many of us may be overlooking some of social media’s most valuable lessons.
Real-Time Data Is More Important Than Ever
Recently, Marriott hotels began testing real-life “like” buttons by installing red and black buttons on hotel amenities that guests can press when they’re feeling pleased or disappointed with rooms, meals, or other services. The idea behind the change is to ensure that guests’ preferences are actually improving their experiences.
Customers have become used to expressing opinions via Twitter and Yelp, but much of that feedback falls on deaf ears. “Likes", and even the “dislikes,” are great sources of data, as are clicks and comments, yet that data is lost if it fails to improve the ways in which brands interact with their audiences.
Many marketers still struggle to figure out how to parlay audience engagement into actionable marketing strategies. In one Marketing Week survey, marketers rated their ability to integrate customer information from purchasing, social media, and other channels at just 3.4 on a scale of 1-7. Customers are constantly providing feedback for content, but all those clicks, shares, and comments don’t mean much if we don’t use them to improve our messaging.
Customers Want to Feel Heard
If audiences engage, they expect acknowledgment. Marketing Land recently discovered that 55 percent of consumers who leave feedback will not repeat their business if feedback goes ignored. However, the study also found that 66 percent of customer feedback actually does get ignored. That’s a lot of lost business!
Marketers can take a lesson from those lost customers. Every time a user clicks a link, completes a quiz, or watches a video, he or she is giving feedback. Let audience preference inform future strategy. If users respond to a certain type of content, give them more of what they want! Otherwise, next time, customers might not be so keen to engage.
For example, when Cotton, Incorporated released a choose your own adventure-style interactive video campaign, the brand noticed audiences were clicking on exercise-related content much more frequently than other options, which has spurred a future campaign comprised of more fitness-related content. Outside of social media, consumers “like” content with their time and engagement; successful content continues a conversation rather than attempting to start a new one.
By the way, if you are a marketer and aren't familiar with the above-mentioned Cotton interactive video campaign, it's worth your time to read up. It's modern marketing, done well, and it's the future of what it will take to gain, and keep, the attention of your audience.
All Content Needs to Be Social
A recent study from Ascend2 showed that the most important objective of most marketers’ social strategies was to increase audience engagement, closely followed by the desire to boost brand awareness. But as audiences are increasingly scrolling, tapping, and swiping through content on mobile, creating engagement that drives brand awareness should really be the goal of all content, not just social media.
Last year, ion interactive and the Content Marketing Institute found 66 percent of marketers agree that interactive content, like quizzes, assessments, and calculators, increased audience engagement, while 79 percent agreed that interactive content, in conjunction with traditional content, added a boost in brand retention.
Audiences respond to interactive content for the same reasons social media absorbs them: interactive and social both demand audience participation, which makes the experience personal.
Today, consumers want personal. What do my kids do when they are bored in the backseat of the car? "Let's go do some Buzzfeed quizzes" is the usual refrain, and then the results of each quiz are shared, dissected and discussed in depth. It's modern-day narcissism and work, and we have to embrace it.
The Circle of Likes
It stands to reason that when audiences enjoy content and markers respond to that enjoyment by tailoring future offerings to the audience’s preferences, a “like and repeat” pattern emerges. Online audiences are constantly voting for content: they vote with likes, views, clicks, and shares. Instead of simply measuring those votes, it’s time to create content that prioritizes consumer preference.