Using social media for customer engagement

@Bernardamus reached out to me on Twitter, asking for suggestions of online references for a talk that he is preparing on the role of social media in customer engagement. I thought I would share my initial thoughts with you, and pick your brain, as well 🙂

Customer engagement (CE) is about connections with customers, as well as brand-facilitated connections between customers, which, according to Hollebeek (here, but unfortunately, behind a paywall), increase how much a customer:

  • Is concentrating on the brand’s message (cognitive dimension);
  • Has strong, positive feelings towards the brand (emotion dimension);
  • Is willing to invest time and effort in interacting with the brand (behavioural dimension).

This slide share presentation, by SAP, contains some fairly recent stats on the positive outcomes for marketing arising from CE initiatives:

To use social media in those connections with or between customers, we first need to understand what social media platforms our customers prefer, and how they use it. [UPDATE: Along this line, I find Burberry’s initiative of using Snapchat to debut its new collection, before it even hit the runway, very interesting]

Kietzmann and colleagues developed the honeycomb framework to illustrate the different types of activities enabled by social media. The application of the framework to specific social media platforms presented by the authors in this paper, is quite dated and would need to be updated for a talk (and adapted for the target customer group). However, I think that (if updated and adapted), this framework provides a good starting point, when mapped against the customer journey.

After the mapping exercise, I would look for ways to add value to customers by looking beyond the product, as discussed here.

To create engagement, the connections need to be relevant for the customers. So, I would actually start by listening, with an analysis of social media conversations – this article tell of how Lenovo did just that.

Then, when you move to using technology to connecting with customers, it is imperative to focus on what customers want, rather than what the technology can do. For instance, I really like this post by Mark W Schaefer: “Sometimes you don’t need community. Sometimes you just need a hamburger”. Oh, and this one. I love this post, too: “Does everybody need a social media strategy?

Here, I will make a shameless plug to the paper that I co-authored with Moira Clark, exploring customers’ reasons for engaging with firms on social media, and their expectations: Canhoto, A. I. and M. Clark (2013). “Customer service 140 characters at a time – the users’ perspective ” Journal of marketing Management 29(5-6): 522-544. You should be able to download it for free here (but if not, contact me and I will send you a pre-publication version).

And last but not least, I would not underestimate the role of social media as a channel for customer feedback. This infographic by top customer engagement company Rant & Rave, is a useful resource.

So, these are my suggestions and links. What are yours?

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