The first month of 2020 is almost over but it still not too late to do a list of New Year Resolutions especially if your first list is turning out to be too difficult to do. This should also be true for business owners who swore to do things they should have been doing last year. It can be a daunting task with the speed of technology and how quickly trends can come and go. So, to aid our clients in inbound digital marketing and help business owners whittle down their list of 2020 resolutions to help make their business become more competitive and grow, we suggest this list of five things to do for New Year:
1. Be social on social media
With almost 50 million Filipinos on Facebook, it would be a sin for your company not to have a Facebook business page. And so Filipino companies did put up business pages and loaded it up with their products, services, and promotions. Nothing really wrong with these, except when these are the only things you post. Facebook is called social media. So why be anything but social? A survey by Stackla and published by BusinessWire shows this disconnect between customers and brands.
That’s a big gap to bridge. Looks like people don’t want to hear brands talking about themselves. They want to hear other customers talk about the brand. When people talk about your brand that’s society at work. Being social is how you create engagements. Engagement in its most basic form is emotional reactions. It’s one of the things that makes us human. We as humans react to things that we relate to — a funny experience, a surprise or a nugget of wisdom. Trying to hawk your products in a never-ending parade on your timeline will not get the thumbs up, smileys and hearts that you were imagining to have. Posts about products and services should comprise the smallest portion of your total posts. Here at Dbrew Digital Marketing, we try to use as much UGC as possible. Up to 60% depending on the availability and permissions granted by the creator. The rest of the content is divided between company behind-the-scenes, inspirational, ATMs (at-the-moment) and other soft content that does not directly pitch the brand. Hard content like product posts mentioned above is kept to 10%.
Facebook is now being used as a means of customer support. With its built-in messaging customers are able to reach out to brands. That’s a good thing. This is direct engagement with a customer where companies can learn their customer behavior and pain points. It is also a chance to delight their followers.
A business page should aim to get the “Very Responsive to Messages” Badge from Facebook. It appears on your profile under your page’s cover photo as a badge of honor. This shows customers that you care by consistently and quickly responding to private messages. To get this badge, there are a couple of requirements. Over the last 7 days, you must have: (1) A response time of 90%, (2) An average response time of 5 minutes.
When fans see how attentive you are, they are most likely to engage with your content.
2. Stop the Likes infatuation
Likes used to be everything. The more likes you have the better – more impressions and reach. It’s common now to see brands with hundreds of thousands or even millions of followers. But since companies have learned how to buy likes and the prevalence of auto likes, it doesn’t have the same impact that it used to have. A brand could have millions of fans on FB but if they are barely giving notice to the posts then what’s the use? If most of your fans are in another third world country where the brand isn’t present, then it is not something to brag about. The number of fans or followers is a useless statistic if they are not engaging. This is the problem with buying likes from Facebook or from a third-party supplier. You’re going to get fans and get them quickly but be ready for a depressing engagement. In Dbrew Digital Marketing, we tell our clients to focus on engagement. Don’t mind the number of fans. Focus on getting reactions, comments, and shares which are the pillars of engagements. By improving the numbers of these three key statistics, you will be able to organically grow your audience. Your engagement rating will rise and so will your brand value. For busy non-technical decision-makers out there, these are only the three metrics you need to keep your eyeballs on – reactions, comments, and shares.
You will need to post authentic, original and value-filled content. The days of engagement baiting or forcing your audience to like, comment or share through mind games or emotional blackmail is over as Facebook has decided. Saying, “LIKE this if you’re a Leo!”, an engagement bait tactic, seeks to take advantage of News Feed algorithm by boosting engagement in order to get greater reach. Facebook began demoting individual posts from people and Pages that use engagement bait.
Posts that use this tactic will be shown less in News Feed. Publishers and other businesses that use engagement bait tactics in their posts are seeing their reach on these posts decreasing. Pages that insist on sharing engagement bait posts will see even more significant drops in reach. Brands should focus on posting relevant and meaningful stories that do not use engagement bait tactics.
3. Use social media for customer service
The inevitable is here. Social media is more than just a place to share videos, photos and connect with friends. With the connectivity and speed of social media, brands are seeing their customers reach out to them through social media or messaging platforms. A lot of brands have started recognizing social media networks as platforms for delivering customer service. Other channels are not as efficient as social media for customers. Telephone and mobile hotlines are always busy and signals are not always available everywhere. With the messaging features of social media, customers know their messages got through, were seen and they can browse through their conversation history. And more than anything else, customers know that if they get trash service, then they can easily share their experience, backed up by screenshots, to the horror of the offending brand.
Customer care on social media is also cost-effective. On average, it costs $1 to solve a customer issue on social media, while conventional call center interactions cost 6 times as much. Furthermore, social media agents have proven to be 167% more efficient, which marks significant savings for a brand while increasing the overall effectiveness of their customer service program.
WebsiteBuilder’s Raj Vardhman, in the infographic above (partial), summarizes statistics on social media use and customer support that should convince brands to have an effective social media customer care in place.
The studies show 90% of users have communicated with a brand on social media. In studies, 34.5% of respondents expressed a strong preference for this form of customer care. At 24.7%, website and live chat came in second, while email came in third at 19.4%. Preference for conventional telephone support has dropped to less than 16.1%, showing the public attitudes have radically transformed. So, if you do not have customer care strategies and tactics in place for your social media, then you are missing out on the benefits of a platform that you’re already using.
4. Create real Influencer Marketing
Influencer Marketing is a result of people getting tired of seeing traditional ads of well-paid celebrities endorsing products they obviously don’t use. When was the last time an A-list actress touched a laundry detergent in real life? People have grown tired of this blatant misinformation but they didn’t have any choice before. Now, with technology, they are able to click away, swipe or block anything they don’t like on their screens. Unfortunately, ad agencies, talent managers and celebrities have invaded social media to further their commercial intentions. People know there is really no authenticity to a celebrity post that endorses a car brand when just several posts below the endorser was riding around in a car made by the competition.
While many brands don’t seem to care if an endorsement comes from a place of true authenticity (however hard that may be to measure), audiences should be able to interpret influencer endorsements as inauthentic or misleading, both the brand and influencer lose credibility. A study from Bazaarvoice reports that 47% of customers are tired of influencer content that appears inauthentic and 62% of customers believe that influencer endorsements take advantage of impressionable audiences by being too materialistic (55%) and misrepresenting real life (54%). Condemnation is harshest in Germany, where 32% of respondents stated influencers do not promote ethical behavior.
While influencer endorsement on social media still can be wildly effective for brands to reach new audiences and create new content, it’s the authenticity of that partnership that will be key. Audiences see through forced partnerships, know when they’re being sold to and are tired of both. Just because a brand attaches a social celebrity or someone with a large following does not mean it will be an instant win.
Brands should be focusing more on micro-influencers. SMBs can also do this. Micro-influencers usually are personally vested in their interests. They have slowly and organically grown a small but loyal and high engaged following through their expertise and authentic content. They are way less costly and open to ex-deals if they really believe in your product.
5. Try remote work
Why is this included in the list? Because digital technology has made the most impact on this practice that was frowned upon years ago. Employers used to panic when they don’t see their workers at their stations. Then companies decided to allow their most trustworthy employees to work from home as a perk. Now working remotely, the ability to work anywhere and anytime, is a common business practice.
In the US, 50 percent of the workforce will soon be remote according to Forbes. In Europe, remote workers are almost at 10 percent says Eurostat. Here in the Philippines, our digital marketing employees work remotely for certain days of the week since last year. The worsening traffic made it easy for us to try it but also the technology has finally caught up with the need to work off-site.
Employees, contrary to popular fears, are just more productive when they don’t have to fight traffic. They are able to put in true 8-hours of work if they are not late and don’t have to leave early to beat the traffic. Remote work improves employees’ work-life balance which in turn raises their well-being. And a happy worker is more inclined to stay longer with the company. It is also cheaper. Companies get to save on space costs, lighting and water utility bills. Having lower overheads means that a company can be more competitive or have higher net margins.
A study led by Stanford University professor Nicholas Bloom on remote workers in 2012-2013 showed a big boost in performance. The Work From Home (WFH) experiment was done at CTrip, a NASDAQ-listed Chinese travel agency. Sixteen thousand employees volunteered for it. The 9-month study showed a 13% performance increase in remote workers’ productivity. Nine percent of it consisted of working more time per shift, meaning fewer sick leaves and breaks, and another 4% – more calls per minute. The latter is said to be due to the less distracting and noisy environment.
Another study, this time by Harvard with the US patent office showed that examiners who were allowed total freedom to telecommute generated $132 million more fees. 4.4 percent reduction in hiring costs, and $38.2 million savings in office costs. Not to mention, the total reduced emission of 44 thousand tons by driving less.
Providing employees with the flexibility to work where and when they want cuts across all industries and company sizes. In fact, many of today’s top companies offer full, half, or partial remote work. Working remotely doesn’t always mean “from home,” either; it can apply anytime an employee works off-site—whether that’s at a coffee shop or a flexible workspace.
So there you go, some of the things we think business should be doing more for 2020. Just some of the common observations and feedback that we get from clients and prospects for our digital marketing services. Not at all an exhaustive list but should be enough to stir some ideas that could pave the way for a breakthrough in 2020.