What should your social media marketing focus on: customer service or content?

What makes a brand “best in class” for social media marketing?

This is a question that almost every business wants to answer. Customers keep asking me what other businesses are doing in terms of social media marketing best practices. Businesses want to learn and improve at social media marketing, yes, even in 2021.

That’s a question the folks at Sprout Social asked over 1,000 merchants and consumers earlier this year.

When they asked marketers, unsurprisingly, the top answers were engagement and content.

Three of the first four responses relate to content marketing or engagement. This probably comes as no surprise to anyone, given the focus on content in terms of budget and resources across nearly every marketing department in 2021.

Marketers seem so focused on producing content that many brands are posting over 280 tweets and 140 Facebook posts per month! Yes, that’s what Salesforce did in June. Yowzers.

For the record, I have performed numerous social media audits for large and medium brands over the past 5 years and almost all of these audits have one thing in common: Brands post A LOT too much content.

So, we know marketers think content is the key to successful social media marketing, but what does their target audience think?

Almost the opposite.

The three main characteristics of a “best in class” brand focus on customer service and engagement.

Something that most brands aren’t very good at and don’t use resources efficiently.

Do not believe me ? Let’s look at some other stats from Sprout.

Let’s take a look at the volume of inbound messages and response time, two fairly common metrics brands need to follow in terms of social media marketing. The graph above highlights some jaw-dropping statistics. For example, the banking industry sees a large volume of DM every day (almost 60%). But, they only respond to a little over a quarter of those messages per day. This is an industry that doesn’t have exactly the best customer service rep – those numbers should be reversed!

Now, many of these industries have a more positive response rate. However, only six of the above industries respond to more than 50% of direct messages from customers on a daily basis! 6 out of 17 – not a good rate.

Also: keep in mind that social media is now (especially during COVID when it all went online) the preferred method not only for customer service but also for sharing their feedback with brands.

And, it’s really not that close. Also, I guess if you stratified this data by age groups, it would be significantly higher for the younger generations. So this is quickly becoming the norm, not the exception. The result: Social media is now your main channel for customer service.

So why are marketers still so obsessed with content and not engaging, listening and solving customer problems?

Mainly because there is a lot more money in the game of content marketing. Content marketing is also easier to ‘see’: you create content, share it on social media, and measure results. And, let’s face it, most brands aren’t interested in interacting with their audience anyway. They would much prefer the one-way communication of getting things out through social media. We have seen it time and time again.

But clearly, customers appreciate the service, the listening and the commitment. It has become the primary means by which many people interact with brands on social media. And, it’s time we started to re-energize this part of social media marketing in a proper way.

It’s time to hire full-time community managers.

It’s time to develop community management manuals so that various members of your team can step in, if necessary.

And it’s time to start budgeting for customer service, listening, and engagement. Whether it’s headcount or vendor support, it’s time to take these things seriously.

Your customers demand it.


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