Social media has been growing at a rapid rate in the last 10 years. In 2018, 69% of Americans use some type of social media.
Businesses have a huge opportunity to leverage popular platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social networking sites to better understand their customers and engage with them. This is particularly true on mobile as nearly 80% of social media usage is on a mobile device.
This trend provides an additional way for businesses to integrate SMS text messaging to build stronger customer relationships.
Social media is not a place for businesses to dump promotions and discounts on their followers. It’s a way for businesses to show a personal side and provide additional content and value that helps consumers in their personal and professional lives.
Here are 5 ways to combine social media and text messaging to increase customer engagement and sales.
1) Grow Your Contact List
The convenience of smartphones enables consumers to multitask without much effort. If you have built a good following on your social media channels, turn those followers into potential customers by integrating a text message campaign that provides useful information.
For example, award-winning San Diego brewery Burgeon Beer Company wanted a better way to announce their new and seasonal beer releases and started leveraging text messaging as a way to build up their customer list through their social media following. They posted their text message number on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with the keyword “join” which their followers can text in to get alerts whenever there is a new beer release.
They also did a similar campaign for followers interested in knowing which retail stores carry their beer.
These types of campaigns led to 40% response rates and an increase in brewery visits as well as a boost in retail store sales.
2) Grow Social Media Following
Now let’s turn the example above around 180 degrees. If your business is just starting out with social media or needs a boost in followers, leverage your existing customer base to gain additional following.
For example, Redbox, a popular video rental kiosk service sent a text message to their customers telling them to follow their Instagram account. Instead of just asking, they provided an extra incentive by posting a secret coupon code.
This is the type of engagement that customers love because they get something in return for their effort. Without that coupon code, most customers would just be annoyed and unsubscribe. As you can see, Redbox clearly included instructions to stop text messages. Always give your customers the option to opt out of text messages. Besides running into legal issues, annoying customers is a sure way to lose them fast.
3) Use Social Listening to Deliver Relevant Content
Businesses that are social media savvy are using social monitoring and listening tools like Hootsuite to better understand how their customers are talking about their brand as well as relevant topics relating to their industry.
These tools can be extremely useful for businesses to gauge what topics and trends their customers are interested in and use that information to send more relevant messages.
For example, if you sell real estate, you can use social listening to uncover where people are interested in buying homes in the areas you sell.
In this use case, through a social listening software, an alert can be set up to inform you that people are interested in homes in Fairhope Alabama leveraging the hashtag #fairhopealabama as shown in the post.
Like this example below, you can then post any homes for sale in that area and enable text messaging to engage prospective buyers for more information or to schedule a viewing.
This helps to create a frictionless experience for buyers to instantly learn more about the home instead of having to call or visit a website.
4) Improve Customer Service
Social media has dramatically changed the way customers engage with businesses for questions or issues.
As a matter of fact, 65% of customers expect companies to offer customer service on social media, and it ranks as the number one preferred customer care channels.
This trend enables businesses to connect with customers that was not possible before and creates a sense of community with customers.
There are two ways to provide customer support through social media.
1) Respond directly via comments: You may have seen this or even experienced this yourself. Companies that truly value their customers go above and beyond to fix any issue. In this example below from Zappos (who is known for their exceptional customer service) shows you how to turn an angry customer into a happy one by fixing the issue right on the spot. As with most social media comments, this is available for everyone to see how responsive Zappos is when faced with problems.
2) Take it off social media: There may be times when there is confidential or sensitive information relating to the customer issue. In those instances, provide another way to privately support your customers offline by providing a phone number for them to call or text you for further support.
The key in any scenario is to respond promptly. This is where the social monitoring tools can help and provide alerts whenever you are mentioned in social media, so you can respond to them quickly.
5) Leverage Social Messaging Apps
Did you know that Facebook Messenger alone has more than 1.3 BILLION active users?
Along with popular alternatives like WhatsApp (1.3 Billion Users) and WeChat (980 Million Users), social messaging apps are starting to gain traction with consumers and businesses alike.
The one main difference between traditional social media networking site and social messaging apps are the words media and messaging.
Social media is more of a content publishing platform whereas social messaging apps are built for private and group messaging among friends and family.
However, being where your customers are, is what’s important. You can’t rely on them to go to your Facebook page or Instagram page whenever they have an issue, rather you must be available on the platform they are already one at that point in time.
By having a profile on social messaging apps, you instantly are available to your customers at their fingertips.
Messaging apps enables your customers to get the same level of support as traditional social media site, but in a more interactive way that is also conversational.
As consumers become more and more mobile-centric, businesses need to leverage all the tools and technology available to adapt and deliver more seamless and integrated experiences.
As you can see, integrating social media, text messaging and even social messaging apps within your customer experience can help build stronger relationships that last a lifetime.
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