How to engage customers with social and mobile

The importance of a mobile-first strategy has been discussed in business circles for a long time. Consumers are now well ahead of many corporations, and those who have put it aside should take note.

While half the world is yet to connect to the internet, it’s estimated that by the end of 2018, an additional 3 billion people will be online. They won’t experience the evolution of the internet as many before have. Instead, they’ll land firmly with tablet or mobile device in-hand, ready for a mobile-first experience.

This reflects where most of us are at the moment. I could throw down any number of facts and figures to demonstrate the rise and dominance of mobile, but one of the most recent and arresting is from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, in which half of global respondents say they use social media as a source of news each week. One in ten state it’s their main source.

>See also: The traps of digital transformation: it’s a tool, not a target

Unsurprisingly, Facebook is the leading platform for finding, consuming and sharing news – and with the social network’s 989 million mobile daily active users, that’s a lot of people consuming content in this way.

So not only has information and news discovery gone mobile, but it’s now certainly social.

To engage customers, businesses must therefore think first and foremost in terms of mobile and social. There are a number of steps to take to do this successfully.

Mobile plays a large part in the customer-purchasing journey. A significant portion of shoppers use their mobile phones for research while in a physical store. This means that many have made their purchase decision before even being approached by the shop assistant – a tough process to deal with if you are trying to influence customers on your own premises.

Facebook’s Local Awareness product now makes this easier by allowing store owners to add detail such as location to ads to drive traffic, as well as identify how much of their footfall is due to digital advertising.

In 2015, Google revealed that more searches take place on mobile than computers in ten countries, including Japan and the US. It’s for that reason that close attention needs to be paid to Google’s regular algorithm updates so customers get the best mobile web experience for your brand.

Speaking of websites, brands once ‘designed’ websites for the mobile web by simply cutting content to fit a separate ‘mobile’ site. This can affect your Google rankings due to duplicated content.

A single design that is responsive to different devices means your online presence can be easily managed to deliver a unified voice, without the risk of falling foul of search.

Remember: there’s no point doing social content and advertising well if you’re directing people to a bad mobile web experience.

Establishing a social media account will be the top priority for many new mobile users. Brands therefore need to be where these potential customers are, and build a social presence that is genuine, helpful and engaging.

There are a number of tools that can help manage these interactions across your organisation, and simultaneously provide valuable insights to all departments so that they understand the business impact of using them.

>See also: Social media in business: 10 years on

For example, a rise in complaints about lack of stock of a product in a particular geographic location means you can re-stock that local outlet and appease customers quickly. Using the right tools can be the difference between a bad, good or great result.

Finally, businesses need to listen. The same tools that help them publish content and measure the effectiveness of their campaigns, can help them truly understand their audience.

All those mobile and social customers are freely sharing information about their likes, dislikes, desires and dreams creating the largest and least expensive focus group marketers have ever seen.

Listening to these cheers and cries with the willingness to act quickly is the most direct and unfiltered way to understand customers and reach them in a way that means you’re front of mind when they pick up the phone.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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