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TIPS & STRATEGY, INDUSTRY INSIGHTS

Social Media Integration; The Value of Creating Brand Ambassadors

Al Buscaino

EVP, Strategic Services

People talk. Today, they talk online. Social media integration allows companies to learn from customers and create marketplace brand ambassadors.

People Talk

One thing we know about people, they talk. If they’ve seen a good movie; had a bad meal at a restaurant; tried a new sparkling water; got a new tower for their boat; or even found a cool contest or discount – you’ll know about it. Whether it’s good or bad, with social media being ever present, you are sure to hear about it! Sometimes more likely to hear if it’s bad rather than good, but that’s a topic for a different article.

If you are not integrating your active social media accounts into your marketing mix, you are missing an opportunity.

Why It Matters

Research shows that 82% of smartphone users consult their phones on in-store purchases they are about to make. For items such as electronics, tools and hardware, automotive, wearable technology and games, more than 50% of in-store purchases are preceded by reading online reviews. So, the more positive interactions you have with potential (and actual) customers, the better. You should encourage customers (and soon-to-be-customers) to engage with you via their social feeds. Done well, customers will end up evangelizing you, rather than you constantly trying to hunt them down.

The same holds true for business-to-business (B2B) customers. Data shows that B2B customers are usually 70% of the way through the purchasing decision process before ever engaging with a company representative. Focusing on that latter 30% risks losing buyer awareness and sales opportunities that can result in an empty sales pipeline and significant lost revenue opportunities. Active social channels are a great way to build familiarity and engage potential customers early in the purchasing decision process.

5 Examples of Social Media Integration

1. SOCIAL WALLS
Social walls are created using a component on your website that allows you to aggregate content from your various social feeds onto one page. Often, there is even a sort function, so the visitor can specify which content they wish to view. You can also click over to the feeds themselves for more posts.

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This is a great way to keep fresh content on your website and build followers for your social feeds.

2. USER-GENERATED CONTENT (UGC) / HASHTAG
A wonderful way to encourage customer engagement is to allow customers to upload their own content, through a moderated platform, and provide permission for you to use it on your website. Here are a few services our clients have used that you may find beneficial for moderating the UGC: Olapic, Curalate and Pixlee.

The other option is to pull in content that is marked with a specific hashtag, for example: #LiveLaCroix, #Shasta130 and #RefreshinglyFun.

3. SOCIAL LOGIN FEATURE VS. CREATING A NEW ACCOUNT
Allowing cutomers to use a social account (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) to log-in is more convenient than asking the customer to create a new account. If you have an ecommerce site, this can almost certainly help with engagement. But consider that the benefits of sailing past log-ins and account registrations means your customers may be trading some data privacy for the convenience. It’s said that “the most secure use of social log-ins is with closely related sites.” Examples would be like using Facebook account info to login to Instagram, YouTube or other apps where there’s a benefit of being able to cross-post, i.e., WordPress and HootSuite. But customers should use caution as information will be shared between the networks and possibly third-party apps.
When using a social account as a login, be sure to keep up with privacy policies and settings and only use social login where comfortable sharing your data. Please don’t ever use main account login information from a social account on a site whose security you may feel is not trustworthy. And most importantly, don’t link a social profile to critical info like a Social Security number, Medicare/health information or any financial accounts. In these instances, it’s always best to create a separate account. Tools like LastPass can be very beneficial keeping up with login information when you are using separate accounts.

4. EVENTS
If your company is planning on sponsoring and/or participating at events throughout the year, one way to get customers engaged and talking is to actively promote your event schedule. This can include things like a pre-registration push to users’ networks (share this event), post-registration push to users’ networks and potentially even post-registration pull into the website wall/alert.

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5. ECOMMERCE INTEGRATION
There are several ways to leverage social media when it comes to ecommerce, all of which can help stimulate sales. You have the pre-purchase push to users’ networks (share this product), post-purchase push to users’ networks (I just bought this product), and post-purchase pull into the website wall/alert (Allison from VB just purchased).

Approach Social Media with Care

One thing to remember about sending visitors from your website to a social media feed is that you are taking customers and prospects away from your website. When the social network is a key part of your marketing strategy, that can be beneficial. You should ask: Are you regularly active on your social networks? Do you publish relevant content frequently? Do you monitor your channels and respond promptly to customer comments and inquiries? Are you using the channels to actively interact with people; are you networking and building relationships, or is your presence simply a static billboard?

Sending people away from your website to multi-billion-dollar corporations who have a vested interest in keeping your customers on their platform to help monetize their business is not something you should take lightly.

If you’d like to explore what INDIVO can do to help your company become more social, let’s talk! Call Al Buscaino at 877.4.INDIVO ext. 222, or send an email to al@indivo.com.

About INDIVO, Inc.
Founded in 1995, INDIVO is a full-service marketing communications firm focused on helping clients connect with customers. Whether a single project or a more extensive body-of-work, INDIVO offers a strong experience base in targeting business-to-business and direct-to-consumer audiences. To explore what INDIVO can do for your company, contact us.