Customer Experience: A Delicate Process

The key to building an excellent relationship with your customers is to provide an excellent experience, both in your marketing campaigns and in customer shopping ventures. One of the biggest problems businesses face is straddling that fine line between being pushy and being absent. Here is where social media can be your balance pole.

On one hand you want to be ever-present in your customers’ experience with your site, product, or service, so you lean toward sending multiple emails and newsletters with calls to action. It reminds them of the interest they once had in you, and hopefully with enough nudging, they’d come around and convert. After all, you don’t want potential customers forgetting about you, right? However, do it too much and your customers get annoyed, and you’re likely going to lose a follower or end up in the SPAM box.

On the other hand you want to create a structured, easy-to-navigate site where you can let your customers run wild and do what they want. While users appreciate this level of freedom, they may feel disconnected from your company. They need someone to connect to, a human being that they feel will be present if needed – someone available to engage with. This is where your employees come into play, especially on the social media front. Social networking is an ever-present system in our lives, which means that your social media strategists and community managers need to be an expert in your company’s services and products in addition to being savvy on social networks. According to a Forbes article by Christine Crandell, “For employees to own the customer relationship they need to understand how they fit into the whole engagement expectation equation.  Don’t assume they will ‘figure it out’; they lack the perspective and information to do that.” In other words, if the employee cares, the customer will care, and a caring customer is more likely to convert.

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Are Businesses the Bane of Social Networks?

The support of big corporations means big money for any site, especially social networks like Facebook and Twitter, but does business involvement ruin the social experience for everyone? I think so. If you introduce money and profit into social networking, then the entire package becomes a business. The social network needs revenue to pay for ever-expanding server and maintenance costs, and businesses want to advertise to as many people as possible; what better way to do so that with social media? It’s where people focus their attention, not only during downtime, but also during work, on lunch breaks, and any time a free moment presents itself. We are a connected generation, and for that reason alone we are being sold to the highest bidder, often from right under our noses. Most people don’t even realize it?

So what about you is being sold? Information, of course. Every time you visit a site, click a link, click into and out of a social network, or read an article, data about you is being collected using tracking cookies. Your behavior, your likes and dislikes, the activities and interactions between you and your family – all of this is being monitored, quantified, and studied in order for corporations to advertise to you more effectively. Why are clickbait articles so rampant? Because people on social networks are clicking on them. Each site featuring these clickbait articles and lists knows exactly where you came from, who shared the referral link, how long you spent on their site, and how often you click on similar articles. They then pay Facebook advertising money to shove more of the same articles into your newsfeed. Don’t you ever wonder why ads seem to only feature things you’ve looked at or are interested in? It’s because you’re being watched.

When a social network cares more about the money it makes and less about the communities it fosters and the connections its users make with each other, it starts to show over time. Facebook’s Pages now longer have the organic (unpaid) reach it used to, because, according the Facebook admins, they want reduce SPAM. The people most affected by this: small companies, start-ups, and people who want to get a leg up in a vast community that used to be a treasure trove of potential followers. You can access the people you want to follow your Page…you just have to pay to make it happen. So no, Facebook, it’s not about reducing SPAM. You’re a multi-billion dollar company. You can find a way to fix this problem without hamstringing everyone who can’t afford to pay.

Paid Advertising on Social Networks: The New Reality

People new to the game of Facebook might get the impression that there’s no way to break into the social media scene due to the abysmal organic reach percentage. As a result, new businesses might be completely turned off, especially when they’re trying to get a handle on their finances and simply cannot afford to invest in paid advertising on the world’s largest social network. It hasn’t always been this way. Many companies who have been with Facebook from the creation of the Facebook Page grew their following without having to pay a single dime. This is because Facebook used to be free in every sense of the word: no advertising, no promoted posts, and certainly no paid apps! But as the network became more popular, more and more companies began using Facebook as one of the primary methods of reaching people directly, which led to all the paid marketing options. As these options rolled out, everyone began experiencing a huge decrease in organic reach, some dropping as low as 2.1%. Abysmal seems like an understatement with numbers like that!

Facebook isn’t the only one to make paid advertising and promoted posts their only options for increasing your reach. Twitter, renown for its hashtag system, also offers promoted tweets and ad options with a built-in analytics system. Pinterest rolled out their Promoted Pins, though only for select companies at the moment. Unlike Facebook, the latter two do not punish their users by reducing their organic reach. Their functions remain the same, while the paid options are an add-on. Of course, Facebook denies purposely reducing organic reach for monetary gains, stating that the new system by which the site ranks content was implemented to reduce spam. Yes, it does reduce spam, but no, it doesn’t prevent spam by any measure. The only thing it seems to do consistently well is stop non-paying Facebook Pages from reaching their customer base. One positive thing it does is punish those who try to cheat the game by buying fake Likes. The more fake Likes you have, the worse your organic reach will be. Not that it isn’t insanely bad already. It’s just a cherry on top.

So what can we do? Paid options are a part of the game now. New users and small companies will need to work extra hard to create quality content relevant to their potential followers in order to entice them to share. But not on Facebook. They frown on external links.