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The key to planning and executing a successful customer engagement strategy through the social media channel is to understand how Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms like them are actually used by your target audience, according to research from Accent Marketing Services. This article is copyright 2014 The Best Customer Guide.

The company's 'Customer Engagement and Today's Consumer' survey examined how consumers seek information from brands across social media channels, in addition to engaging with a brand, which channels are believed to be the best way of communicating with a brand, and the power of being a part of an online community. It concluded that, across the board, most brands need to better understand how customer engagement is evolving from traditional channels such as toll-free phone numbers and email to multiple social media channels.

"Our goal was to connect with consumers to discover their preferences for engaging with a brand," explained Roger Huff, Accent's director of social media & digital strategy. "The survey showed that brands need to pay more attention, anticipate consumer's needs, and create natural conversations across all channels, especially social media."

Among the key findings from the report:

  • 72% of consumers only want to interact with the brand when they comment on social media channels.
  • 82% use Facebook to speak with a customer service representative.
  • Two thirds of consumers use Facebook to find good deals and promotions, including 80% of Baby Boomers.
  • More men (34%) than women (25%) use Twitter to speak to a brand they have purchased a product from.
  • 75% of Millennials find it helpful when other customers/followers respond to a question or comment posted on a brand's social media channel, compared to 55% of Baby Boomers.

It appears that consumers behave very differently across channels and, if brands are to create customer engagement that drives ongoing customer loyalty and creates true brand advocates, it is important for CMOs to understand their customers' behaviour through all of those channels.

"To be a part of the conversation, CMOs need to have a social strategy in place to build a trusted relationship with their consumers and within their social community, ultimately creating a lifetime of engagement on social channels and in person," concluded Accent's chairman, David Norton.