How important is community engagement on Facebook anyway?
Community managers are often faced with the ROI question – the good news is, there is plenty of evidence to show that highly engaged, happy communities really do mean more sales.
You’ve seen it everywhere, B2C brands want to build engaged online communities. It’s no surprise; with over 3 billion social media users on the planet, customer-facing brands have a huge opportunity.
The problem, of course, is knowing how to stand out and reach the right people. We’ve become obsessed with views, likes, shares and social media customer service. But how important is your community? And does it have a real impact on your bottom line?
The strength of your community
Today, consumers average around 6 touch points with a brand or product before making a purchase. When you also consider that about 47 percent of online consumers in the U.S. buy items after first seeing them on social media, it’s no surprise that brands with huge budgets will pour hundreds of thousands or even millions of euros into these advertising channels.
Nevertheless, many brands are not taking the most important thing into account: that real human relationships are the beating heart of social media.
As Mark Zuckerberg recently posted on his Facebook wall: “We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to is. That’s why we’ve always put friends and family at the core of the experience.”
He has a point. While some brand pages and interest groups are hugely popular, the top reason for social media use is to “keep in touch with family and friends,” according to a recent survey by Global Web Index.
To add another layer to this insight, people give their friends and family a lot more weight than they do brands, when it comes to making purchase decisions.
In fact, you are five times more likely to influence your friends or family to buy something, than a celebrity, influencer or brand, according to a survey of 1000 consumers in the UK (18-40), by Because.
The key then, is to connect the dots, bringing your brand to your clients’ extended networks of friends and families.
Making friends and influencing people
Your job, as a community manager or social media marketer, is then at least partly to encourage your clients and fans to recommend your service to their connections.
That is by no means easy, but there are a number of key facts to keep in mind. Firstly, it’s worth knowing that customers who have had a positive social media experience with a brand are three times more likely to recommend it, according to the Harvard Business Review.
Moreover, more recent research by the same publication found that brands that respond to followers on social media are more likely to retain customers. There is also a greater chance that those customers will spend more money AND make recommendations to their friends.
As approximately 70% of consumers have used social media to deal with a customer service issue at some point, it’s also clear that there is no benefit to skimping on customer care on your social channels.
The importance of engagement
Social media is, like any other marketing channel, a complex and ever developing ecosystem. Brands exist at the mercy of each platform’s algorithm, with their organic and paid posts reaching fewer and fewer people as guidelines become more stringent.
So, as social channels move to a more “people-focused” mode, brands have to adapt. Effectively, they have to become more human.
Actions you can take
- Take your customer service on social media extremely seriously. Aim to solve issues and escalate responses as appropriate.
- Drop the corporate voice on social media: people respond to humour and a friendly approach.
- Share team news and add a personal touch – people like seeing who’s behind your brand. Remember, it’s all about real people.
- Always respond to comments and queries, your engagement will drop off if your customers feel like they are shouting into the void.
- If you are inundated with messages, use a Facebook messenger chatbot system to filter messages to the right human team (but don’t keep people in an endless loop of pre-recorded responses).