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Social Media: Aiming To Create an Experience

(updated 2020)

It's harder to keep consumers' attention online, when there's so many choices at their fingertips. One click, and voila, a new experience. So, we have to get a little creative, to enhance the consumer’s virtual experience, to make a real connection, and generate brand engagement and loyalty. What great traditional brick and mortar stores know is that you have to do more than just have the goods and services consumers want, need, or desire; you also have to present them in a manner that appeals to their senses. Notice that I said senses - plural.  When multiple senses are engaged, you create an immersion opportunity, versus a transactional interaction that may never reoccur. People enjoy experiences, as they provide multiple reference points for future recall. If the experience wasn't memorable then it wasn't worth having, and definitely not worth repeating.

The following are a few tactics that help to ensure that your customers feel engaged with your organization and have memorable experiences worth repeating:

An online presence offers the opportunity to not just present your brand, but to amplify its presence. Things happen quickly in the virtual world: videos go viral, deals come and go in 24 hours, and coupons are valid for a limited time and online only. You also have the opportunity to extend your reach locally, regionally, nationally, or internationally with little to no increased overhead. The depth and breadth of your reach is really only limited by the stretch of your imagination and the extent of your core competency. This leads us to brand recognition.

Brand Recognition
You want to amplify your brand to increase brand recognition. Brand recognition or awareness is the degree to which a brand is identifiable by its visual cues. When a consumer sees your logo it feels familiar, and when they encounter it in another forum they feel more comfortable engaging with you in a new manner. Establishing your brand across forums, across platforms, and across mediums increases the likelihood of customer encounters which amplifies the brand, increases brand recognition, and leads us to the next two topics of variety and character.

They say that variety is the spice of life. Events, sales, trade shows, websites, social networks, videos, e-books, blogs, newsletters, webinars, podcasts, slideshows, plugins etc. help to create a relevant and memorable experience for your consumer. We don’t all engage with an organization in the same manner and we don’t all engage through the same vehicle, exactly the same way, every time. With this in mind, the best way to engage a consumer base is to engage them in the space and manner that they desire; offering a variety of options helps to ensure the broadest consumer appeal.

If you’re flying by the seat of your pants, you're not making time to be reflective.  

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Continuity and Character
Can your customers vouch for you? Can they pass good word-of-mouth onto their friends and family? Providing an opportunity for your customers to become your best advocate is genius. However, achieving this status requires consumer trust. Trust is given when a message is consistent, across events, across mediums, and across platforms. When your message is clear or trustworthy you may be deemed worth the effort to share with friends and family.

Communication Rules
To garner the level of trust that generates positive word-of-mouth, we must communicate, of course. Extroversion or “over-the-top” antics are not required; however, a lack of communication may convey that the organization is not interested in consumers. Or even worse, it could lead to a quick, (literal click of the finger), switch to your competitor. Offer a vehicle for two-way communication that encourages positive interactions and manners of contact. Customers appreciate an increased sense of accessibility. Conversely, restricted communication usually leads to a sense of frustration.

What it all boils down to is relationship building - making the most out of a “chance encounter” that is intended to be mutually beneficial. We usually try a little harder and make things beneficial for those we expect to encounter on a regular basis, whether it’s a parent, a teacher, a spouse, or a co-worker. Likewise, we try a little harder for our customers. When they feel that you care, they too begin to care a little. They think of you for their product and service needs, before they entertain another.

Eight-seven percent (87%) of consumers complete their window shopping and research online, which suggests that consumers are largely used to the immersion experience the internet offers. If you establish a store you're inviting a glance or two, and you may even generate a sale from the individual who is ready to buy immediately. If you take it a step further and engage the audience, once a visitor leaves your website or brick and mortar store, there’s something to remind them of the fabulous experience they had when they were there. Continued engagement creates a social attachment; your brand feels familiar enough to trust.

In the world of sales, engagement is the difference between making an initial cold call versus having a more relaxed and informed follow-up conversation. Engagement on a social network, through a newsletter, or by way of any number of delivery modes and methods removes the need for a “cold call” and it serves to remind the consumer of your brand, so that when they are finally ready to purchase your product or service you’re the first company that comes to mind.