Social networks have influenced consumers to look beyond traditional buyer/seller roles to identify and communicate with brands on a deeper, more personal level. However, while social media has placed increased emphasis on brand image and perception, it has also made them difficult to control. As customers share both good and bad opinions and experiences via chat rooms and Twitter streams, brand images are constructed and consumer perceptions are shaped.
According to AdAge, 55-60% of Millennials want brands to help them connect and share with brand audiences (2012). Interactivity is a main value among the next generation of consumers, and creating a digital environment that is conducive to sharing and connecting is becoming a necessity for brands. Incorporating ways for consumers to interact in the context of your website via social plugins like ratings and reviews, comments, and share bars puts your brand at the center of the social experience, effectively building relationships and developing a trusted social community around your brand.
While encouraging social engagement and honesty builds customer communication and trust, it also promotes positive sharing. In fact, more than one in three consumers have recommended a brand they Like or Follow on a social network (Ipsos, 2012), while 85% of Fans of brands on Facebook recommend brands to others, compared to 60% of average users (Syncapse, 2013). As social opinion plays an increasingly larger role in shaping brand perception and consumer relationships, establishing this level of community trust and interaction is the key to increasing referral traffic, expanding your customer base and building brand loyalty.
Major daily newspaper Dallas Morning News is one example of a brand that has effectively implemented social plugins by adding social login and comments to its website. Authenticating user identities via social login before allowing them to comment not only turns anonymous users into known customers, but it also creates a more genuine and trusted user environment by reducing comment spam. These social implementations resulted in a 92% increase in comment activity, as well as a 95% decrease in labor needs for comment moderation.
Your Next Move:
Picture your brand at the epicenter of social interaction. How do you envision consumers connecting around your brand? Do you want them to recommend products? Provide commentary? Play an interactive game? Imagine how you can customize these social experiences across your digital channels, and how you can best facilitate these interactions.
By Rachel Serpa