At this point in time, most marketers understand the importance of mapping out the customer journey. It’s simple– you walk a mile in the customer’s shoes in order to more effectively predict and therefore influence their behavior. Looking at the full experience of being a customer, rather than focusing on a small part of the journey, can indicate weak points in your marketing strategy. It’s not enough to just create the map; it needs to be comprehensive and change with the times.
One aspect of the map that requires frequent adaptation is the social media customer experience portion. Social media plays a bigger role than ever before in the lives of millions of people. Naturally, social media channels are taking an increasingly important role in customer journeys. Digital Marketing Magazine reported that 74% of consumers rely on social media to guide their purchases. Additionally, 60% of people say that they interact on social media with the brands they buy from. Social media holds more power with consumers than ever before, and strategic planning is necessary to harness this power.
Unfortunately, many brands make the mistake of omitting or under representing social media’s role in the customer journey. It’s not hard to see why: customer perception is difficult to control on social media (just ask anyone who’s had a bad review go viral), many companies simply don't have enough data to get the big picture and create comparisons, and social strategy is updated more frequently than other elements of the journey and requires more adaptation.
These days, there are multiple social media channels that your brand will need to be on and multiple ways for customers to interact with your brand on each channel. This can lead to a complicated map, but don’t give up! It’s important to consider all possible entry points to the marketing funnel in order to create strategic content with intention. For example, if your company notices that customers tend to exit the journey during the decision-making stage, this could mean that your competitor's strategies or products are somehow attracting a customer's attention more. Knowing this helps focus your strategies and content around this stage.
Social media is difficult to control; of course we can’t see the future, but we can come close with strategic social listening. Combined with data analysis, social listening will help you learn which topics are trending in your industry, which strategies are successful (or not) for your business, and which strategies are successful (or not) for your competitors. A lack of data about your competitors’ customer journeys and social media performance leaves you with fewer benchmarks for your own success- how do you know how your customer experience compares to a competitor’s if you haven’t put yourself in their customers’ shoes too? All of this information should be used to continuously inform your customer journey map and your marketing plan as a whole.
Social platforms evolve quickly; the content trends, most successful strategies and the platforms themselves are continually changing. TikTok has accumulated an estimated 800 million monthly users in the four years since it was founded, with a 2020 estimate of 1 billion video views per day. In the last few years Instagram has rolled out both stories and IGTV features focused on short and long video content, respectively. Twitter has announced that they are working on a feature similar to stories called fleets. Every time a new social feature rolls out, your brand has a new way to connect with customers and a new avenue to execute your marketing strategy. That’s great news! But it also means you have to go back to the drawing board and plan for it.
It’s important not only to account for social media in the awareness stage of your customer journey, but also to consider its role in the retention phase. A report from Microsoft revealed that 31% of customers report reaching out to a company via Twitter and 63% of millennials begin their customer service interactions online. Engaging with customers on social media will help encourage them towards the path to becoming a consistent customer and advocate. Making a point to include engaging in your strategy will enhance your social customer experience.
Although a customer’s journey in 2020 may be more complex to map out with more potential touchpoints than it would have been before the advent of social media marketing, your company also has more opportunities to succeed and build confidence in your brand. It is important to carefully consider all of these opportunities using social listening, data analysis, and customer service in order to deliver a personalized and optimized experience.
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