3 Rules for Speaking With Consumers on Social Media, Not at Them

Opinion: Followers can still comment, but the essence of the conversation is lost

Social media has lost its identity and its impact
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We know that conversation is a lost art. And regardless of whether consumers’ attention spans are in fact shorter than that of a goldfish, we know they are pretty damn short.

Consumers use a variety of social applications for quick chats and sharing content. From ephemeral content to influencers, brands have invested tons of time and money trying to capture their attention at every turn. However, many brands are having an increasingly difficult time connecting with consumers on these platforms.

So, what has caused the decline of social impact for brands? It’s not just the changes to news feeds or separation of social and media content that is driving the decrease, although a 20 percent engagement drop for brands and publishers and 83 percent negative reviews on a redesign sure doesn’t help.

The crux of the issue is pretty simple: Social media has lost its identity and its impact.

Some of you may be thinking, “What on earth am I talking about? Social media is everything.” Well, yes and no.

Social platforms still have plenty of followers, but they have made many shifts in how brands interact with those followers. They went from encouraging collaboration and conversation to nothing more than an extension of TV. Brands, influencers and individuals now simply broadcast information at their audience, in the same fashion that TV viewers have seen for decades. Sure, followers can still comment, but the essence of the conversation is lost. This leads to less discussion and a disengaged audience—not a good fit for brands.

Rather than brands sticking with the current approach and continually banging their heads against the wall in frustration, they must adapt. Speaking with consumers, and not at them, will revive the connection.

Following three simple rules will set brands up for success in changing and improving the dialog with consumers.

Use content that makes consumers feel like a part of the conversation

Creating great content is hard enough, but developing content that actually garners response and conversation is even tougher. Focus on content that is not only visual, emotive and shareable, but that will make consumers feel like they are a part of discussion rather than being just a content receptacle.

Generating that organic virality of your content is the holy grail, and it will increase awareness, reach and user-acquisition efforts.

In tandem with the captivating content you produce, be sure to have a plan in place for how to respond to consumer feedback. Content like this will inherently create chatter, and it positions you in a place of commodity, not hindrance, so be prepared to reply with authenticity and value. Don’t end up scrambling to formulate responses—otherwise the content is wasted and your audience is likely gone.

Don’t rely solely on bots to communicate with your audience

Bots are amazing and are one of the hottest things in advertising today. Yes, they have the potential to improve your business, but they are not the lone solution to all of your problems.

Like most technology, human touch is still essential to consumer interaction. It’s a matter of time before consumers adapt to bot responses and expect more than what artificial intelligence is currently offering, so dedicating someone to speak with your audience is pivotal. If you and your team deem a bot strategy key to your key performance indicators, then deploy the bots, but make sure that you have some humans interacting with your consumers, too.

Use technology that is inherently conversational

Now that we’ve emphasized the importance of human elements for most of this piece, let’s discuss how tech plugs into it all.

When looking at any digital solution for your marketing efforts, it’s paramount that the tech is a place where consumers are already spending time communicating with one another. Why complicate things when you can deliver on awareness, consideration and conversion on a platform where people are spending a considerable amount of time?