Over the last few years there has been a fundamental shift in the way consumers connect with brands to get their questions answered and problems solved. At one time a consumer’s initial reaction to a printer breaking or their cable TV going down was to 1) take a deep breath, then 2) pick up the phone and begin the arduous process of waiting on hold listening to elevator music.
Now that has shifted, and consumers are increasingly turning to digital channels first for support. Whether it’s social channels for quick resolution, online communities for peer-to-peer help, or 1:1 messaging channels on web and mobile, digital-first is becoming the new norm. A number of stats bear this out:
Forrester – approximately two-fifths of US adults prefer to use digital customer service instead of speaking with person on the phone.
IDC – by 2019, over 80 percent of people worldwide will have used a social channel to seek brand-related support.
Beyond just the digital shift, if a consumer reaches out to a brand, the last thing they want is to get bounced from channel to channel (e.g. from social media to a phone). They want to resolve their questions in the channel of their choice, quickly and painlessly. Data backs this up – according to a Sapio Research survey, 58 percent of consumers have been forced to move to a different channel when making a customer service request. Forty-nine percent of them were left feeling less positive about the brand as a result, with 30 percent considering taking their business elsewhere.
Businesses are also seeing this shift towards digital, with Forrester data revealing 71% of businesses say social media will transform their customer experience operations in the next two years.
Here at Lithium, we see Messaging as one of the channels that has been consistently growing in popularity over the last few years as a way for consumers to connect with brands. Independent research supports this:
Gartner predicts that by 2019, requests for customer support through consumer messaging apps will exceed requests for customer support through social media.
And a Sapio Research survey of 4,000 consumers found that 63 percent who have used messaging to contact a brand report they were very satisfied/satisfied with their experience.
For more information on Lithium Messaging, check out: https://www.lithium.com/products/messaging
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Masters of Digital CX: European Edition
The Real-World Impact of Digital
Want to create frictionless customer experiences across digital touchpoints, but don’t know how? What better way to learn than from Lithium CEO and digital CX expert, Rob Tarkoff? In the last of our Masters of Digital CX series filmed during LiNC Local London 2017, Rob provides key insights on how to connect with customers at the right digital moment. To achieve this, he explains Lithium’s four-stage formula for successful digital customer experience: Listen, Engage, Enlist, and Embrace. Watch episode four to learn:
How to manage issues, crises and damage limitation
Enhance the digital customer experience, while protecting and enriching relationships
How digital CX leaders from DNB, F-Secure, and Plusnet are tackling these challenges
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Do you know how to shape your customer experience for GenZ? Born between 1995-2010, these customers are digital natives, social, collaborative, global, sharers, and influencers. Their expectations of CX is driven by their online upbringings. How can you prepare and meet them?
Here are some tips based on what Gartner recommends:
Join the conversation
Ask them what they want
Meet them on mobile
Tailor to their preferences
Always be shareable
Make them feel secure
Invite them to co-create
Download the infographic by Gartner to learn detailed recommendations on how to shape CX for GenZ.
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Just as no two brands are created equal, the way in which different brands use social media can vary quite significantly, too. From “post and pray” social media newbies to seasoned marketers who have truly cracked the code for driving long-term business value through social media efforts – and, of course, everyone else in between – there are a lot of places where brands can sit on the social media maturity spectrum. This is underscored by the fact that only a mere 13 percent of major brands in the U.S. say they have implemented sufficient social media tools, platforms, and systems to scale and grow their digital footprint.
So, after having worked with a number of brands of all shapes and sizes, we thought it was about time to get a handle on social media marketing maturity . How did we do it? We put our heads together and thought about the commonalities that exist from one brand to another and throughout their respective journeys with social media marketing. When all was said and done, it was pretty clear that the majority of brands roughly fit into three buckets – or, rather, three incremental stages of social media marketing maturity.
To learn more about what those stages of social media marketing maturity are, check out our amazing eBook, “Social Media Has Grown Up. Have You?” Here are a just a few things that you’ll learn by downloading :
Learn about the three stages of social media marketing maturity
Understand the ins and outs of each stage along the spectrum
Assess where your brand sits within each stage of maturity
Get tips on how to move up through or make the most of the various stages
Learn how technology can be your instant catalyst for raising your social media game
That’s just a sneak peek. Now, I'll invite you to download the eBook and learn more about the stages of social media maturity as well as how you can work your way up to the top.
While you’re at it, learn more about how Lithium can help today.
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Creating stellar digital customer experiences is a massive priority for many brands today. In fact, about 90 percent have said they plan to compete this year primarily on the basis of digital customer experience alone. And while those experiences can take many shapes and forms, there’s one thing we know to be true: a great digital customer experience is one that closes the gap between brand and customer, making transactions, information-finding, and all other kinds of service and support as simple and streamlined as possible.
For many brands, the ability to chat one-on-one with customers instantly (aka, “live chat”) has become a game-changer. Facebook knows this, and has made it even easier for brands to talk to customers without any barriers standing in the way with the beta release of Facebook Messenger Customer Chat , a plugin that lets brands host Facebook Messenger conversations directly on their own websites.
Lithium supports Facebook Messenger Customer Chat. To start taking advantage of this plugin within the Lithium Social Media Management platform , just reach out to your customer success team or leave us a note in the comments section of this post. We’ll get back to you right away with details
Benefits of Customer Chat for brands are as follows:
It’s seamless across both desktop and mobile, enabling the brand to have a continuous conversation with the same agent across devices and platforms – whether customers choose to engage on Facebook Messenger on a brand’s website, on the Facebook website, or via the Facebook Messenger app. Customers now have an easier way to communicate instantly with brands within an environment (Facebook) they are familiar with.
Brands will now have access to the full conversation history on Facebook Messenger with any given customer, regardless of agent or service inquiry.
And thanks to the information that customers choose to share via their Facebook profiles, agents will be able to personalize their interactions. Unlike typical “live chat” conversations that are almost entirely anonymous, Facebook Customer Chat will make it possible for customer service agents to know a little bit more about who they are talking to and better understand more of the relationship that a specific customer has with their brand.
And for Lithium customers, you can manage all of this within Lithium SMM.
Almost one-third of consumers say they will visit a brand’s website, blog, or social channels first to engage with a brand, ask questions, learn more, or research specific products and services (vs. 17 percent who say they prefer to do this in-store). This number will only increase as more and more people become digital-first in their habits. And as this happens, it’ll be your responsibility to deliver the best digital customer experiences imaginable, regardless of the channel. The time to get ahead of the curve is now. After all, your customers expect it.
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The Growing Trend of Social Customer Care The future of social customer care is now – and brands know it.
Truth be told, the entire team at Lithium saw this trend coming a long time ago. Because social is an effective conversational medium, it was only a matter of time until brands started catching on – or rather, had no choice but to catch on because their consumers were already reaching out to them via social platforms to ask questions, get help, and voice all sorts of concerns.
We’ve even found in our own research that roughly one-third of consumers will flock to social media – from major social networks to a brand’s community – as a first line of defense to do research or get additional information before they’ll even consider picking up the phone. They know that, more often than not, they can find answers a lot more quickly and easily by taking more of a self-service route. When that doesn’t work, however, they know that connecting with customer service representatives is as easy as a chat or direct message away on most platforms.
I found this Rise of Social Media Customer Care infographic (also pasted below) very interesting. The basic premise is that when it comes to social care, it’s clear that there’s no turning back. Already 90 percent of consumers have used social media to communicate with brands and 63 percent expect them to offer some sort of social customer service support. Today’s consumers are all about instant gratification – and it’s this sense of instant gratification that can make social customer care so appealing to them.
But here’s why this matters to brands. When consumers get an immediate response, they are much more inclined to feel as though brands care about them. This creates a good amount of brand loyalty and advocacy. In fact, when a complaint gets answered on social media, customer advocacy can get a boost by 25 percent. Same goes for overall customer satisfaction – great customer care on social can improve that by 26 percent. Not to mention, 71 percent of consumers who have had positive social customer care experiences are more than likely to recommend that brand to others. Just getting a response raises the chances of getting a positive recommendation by 30 percent!
What’s synonymous with this era of instant gratification is a heightened sense of customer expectations. This is why many brands are seeing an influx of social customer care inquiries flowing in more rapidly every day. Customer care interactions on Twitter alone have skyrocketed 250 percent since 2014. The only issue is that brands are having a hard time keeping up. 42 percent of consumers expect a response in one hour, 32 percent expect a response in 30 minutes, and a whopping 11 percent of consumers expect an immediate response. Sounds exhausting just thinking about it, right?
The unfortunate reality about this situation is that the average response time today is about five hours and, even worse, around one-third of customer complaints on social media are ignored entirely. And even though 80 percent of brands believe they’re delivering exceptional social media customer service, a meager eight percent of consumers actually agree. The ray of light: social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, for example, are 44 percent faster and 48 percent more accurate at delivering responses than via email. It’s just a matter of time until that same level of customer service starts to permeate other popular social media platforms.
Now, here’s the kicker – not keeping up can actually hurt brands in the long run. Poor response times – or no response at all – can lead to 15 percent churn and up to a 50 percent decrease in customer advocacy. Plus, it’s been shown that 30 percent of consumers will very quickly start courting a competitor if they don’t receive a response while 31 percent will post a negative review online if they’ve had a bad experience. All of this can impact a business’s bottom line in a massive way – from customer retention to revenue growth. And then don’t forget another big perk: social customer care is a lot more efficient (by about 167 percent) and way more cost-effective (63 percent cheaper, on average) than phone support. The upside of weaving social customer care into your overall digital customer experience strategy should be a no-brainer at this point.
Fortunately, this is where Lithium can come to the rescue. Whether you’re just dabbling in social customer care for the first time or are ready to scale your operations in a big way, we’re here to help. (Not to toot our own horn, but we do it pretty darn well, too – just take a look below!)
Long story short: the future isn’t social customer care. It’s already here – and consumers are already demanding it from brands. If you haven’t made it a priority yet, then it’s about time you did. By providing a customer care offering where the majority of today’s consumers spend a good chunk of their time (hint: online and mobile), you eliminate the barriers between your brand and your target customers – and, in doing so, create a better overall customer experience for them every step of the way. If you haven’t noticed by now, it’s definitely a win-win scenario.
At this point, you might be asking yourself, “What does great customer service in action look like?” Glad you asked. Check out what our amazing customers have done to transform customer service into the cornerstone of their digital customer experience strategy . After all, if you’re ready take your social customer care efforts to the next level, why not learn from the best?
While you’re at it, take a few moment to learn more about Lithium’s Social Customer Service solutions today. You (and your customers) will be glad you did!
Check out the infographic here.
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At Lithium, we know the importance that technology plays in amplifying a brand’s social media efforts. However, we were curious to understand exactly to what extent technology can be the catalyst for enabling social media marketing to drive real and measurable business results. So, to answer this question, we partnered with Forrester to see if one of our biggest assumptions was true: that brands investing in social media marketing platform technology ultimately have a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
The results are in - d ownload the Mature Your Social Media Strategy with Technology report today and be one of the first people to see the unique correlation that exists between the adoption of social media marketing platform technology and a brand’s ability to drive increased value to both consumers and the business as a whole.
(Hint: brands that have invested in technology definitely have a competitive advantage!)
Of over 100 social media marketing experts surveyed, representing brands that generate $100M or more in annual revenue, many agreed that an investment in a more comprehensive social media marketing platform helped achieve the following results for their brands:
Improved customer retention (57 percent)
Acquired new customers (60 percent)
Increased conversion rates (57 percent)
Boosted customer loyalty (50 percent)
Also, as many as 75 percent of the marketers surveyed said that these platforms helped synchronize, streamline, and simplify their social media marketing efforts as well as improve overall collaboration across multiple teams – further underscoring the positive impact that this kind of technology can make both internally and externally for brands.
The message is clear: if your brand is serious about social, it’s absolutely critical that you invest in the right technology to scale your social media marketing efforts. This doesn’t mean cobbling together a variety of free, paid, or add-on solutions from multiple vendors, but rather implementing the right end-to-end platform solution to do the heavy lifting. And if your brand is part of the 87 percent of brands in the U.S. that has yet to invest in a social media marketing platform, it’s not too late to get started.
Asides from the report itself, you can download our infographic and watch this quick video to get a look at the research results so you can start upping your social media game immediately.
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Last week our CEO Rob Tarkoff participated in a panel at DLD New York on operationalizing digital transformation, and I wanted to share some insights from his session.
Before I get into that, a bit of background. DLD (Digital-Life-Design) is a series of events that aim to connect business leaders, creatives and industry opinion leaders. Originating in Munich in 2005, DLD has featured an array of speakers over the years including Mark Zuckerberg, Lady Gaga, Eric Schmidt and Alanis Morissette (isn’t that ironic, don’t you think?). What I love about it is that it’s not about pushing products – it’s about sharing ideas and furthering disciplines, all around the theme of how digital is changing our lives.
Now to the panel. Titled “Digital Transformation: From the why to the how” and featuring execs from Lufthansa, Wirecard and Kellogg Innovation Network, its aim was to explore what challenges exist for brands trying to accelerate their digital transformation, and how to actually implement digital successfully.
Three major themes emerged in the discussion:
Using digital and data to develop empathy and better connect with customers. Panelist Brad Garfield (Wirecard VP of product development) outlined how Wirecard has been “working to optimize the entire customer journey on digital,” which involves identifying where breaks in continuity could occur and ensuring that doesn’t happen. To achieve this, businesses must focus as much on the back-end infrastructure as the front-end user experience.
Finding the right balance between monetizing and building trust on digital, two goals that can often be at odds with each other. Rob cited T-Mobile as a great example of this, “They are using digital to fundamentally transform the brand. During Superbowl, CEO John Legere was on social building personal relationships with people and articulating the personality of T-Mobile’s brand, not talking about wireless plans and T-Mobile products/services.”
How brands can use digital to become better corporate citizens. On that topic, Lufthansa VP of marketing Alexander Schlaubitz said his company was “working to become the custodians of digital innovation” and helping make a legacy organization digital first, through tactics such as arming flight staff with digital devices so they can resolve customer issues in real-time. Alex also noted that Lufthansa is looking past just digital, to help consumers see travel as a way to actually reconnect physically (something that has become less frequent in the digital age).
Moderator Robert Wolcott, co-founder of the Kellogg Innovation Network, finished the panel by predicting that in the next five years computers will have access to such huge troves of data that they will actually be able to begin developing empathy. It’s a brave new world indeed.
Lithium also provided a Monitor Wall for DLD, which was prominently displayed in the main event hall. According to our tracking, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence were the two leading themes being discussed on social around the event.
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Our SVP of Marketing Dayle Hall was recently interviewed by MarTech Advisor on where the industry is headed, the importance of data-driven marketing, and how businesses can speed up digital transformation. Read on, and let us know your thoughts in the comments...
1. How have you seen marketers evolve in their understanding of martech in these last five years? The biggest change I’ve seen in martech adoption, and in adoption of digital technologies in general, is that brands have moved from the why to the how. Everyone now knows they need to become more sophisticated in what technologies they use when marketing to customers, but the actual implementation itself is proving to be challenging. It’s complex as new digital channels proliferate, it’s tough to scale and get all the different technologies talking to each other the right way.
2. At what stage would you say is the ‘ad tech meets martech’ state of affairs at present? For businesses to adequately mix adtech and martech, they must come to consensus on what they hope to gain from integrating these technologies and develop a comprehensive, standardized set of KPIs to align departments. That’s step one.
Next, businesses need to develop a marketing tech stack that enables them to view all ad and marketing analytics within a single pane of glass and have an all-up view of the customer – linking their transactional history with their behavioral characteristics and social activity. That’s when the integration will really begin to bear fruit.
3. 2016 was the year of data-driven marketing. Where do organizations lack in proficiency the most? The last several years have been the years of data-driven marketing actually. And brands have gotten really good at amassing data, but the real challenge becomes figuring out what’s actually useful, and taking action on it.
According to Gartner, only 1% of brands are combining the legacy customer data with data gleaned from social and digital channels. That’s a big opportunity missed, as
"The only way you’re going to really unlock the power of your data to truly understand your customers is by breaking down the siloes that divide it."
4. What are areas you commonly see where businesses are getting stuck from transforming themselves to optimal customer-centricity? How much can data help this transformation? Brands don’t know their customers like they should. They rely on a one-dimensional view that is largely transactional – what have they bought from me in the past, when did they buy, and how much did they buy?
"To truly become customer-centric, brands must leverage customer data across all channels."
They need to pull in data from social channels, from their owned digital properties, and transactional data to get at a much more complete understanding of their customers. This will drive more engagement, less churn, and higher revenue.
5. How can marketers get a buy-in from their organizations to invest in digital transformation of their businesses? Simple. If you want buy-in from the business you have to speak the language of the business. Outline how digital transformation will directly impact revenue, upsell, reduce churn. Don’t talk in marketing-specific terms about increases in web traffic or use social metrics like engagement rates or follower numbers. Talk in dollars and cents, and the business will listen.
6. How can digital transformation become a strategic thought process for a business rather than just being a mere means to an end to enhance customer experience? Digital absolutely should not be a separate department – digital must be infused across the entire business – from sales to marketing to product development.
"Develop an agile planning process – Understand that digital moves too fast to set 12 month plans in stone. New platforms rise, old platforms fall, consumer behavior evolves. With this in mind, make sure your plans have enough leeway to shift over time, to refocus and reorient if necessary."
Establish a framework for change – outline how your customers’ behavior has changed over the last 2 years, figure out how you can better engage with them to build advocacy, and determine how this would impact your top/bottom line. Then go do it!
7. Could you share for our readers a sneak peek on the topic of your presentation? We’ll be speaking with our customer Spotify about how they formed an integrated systems of social media tools. Don’t miss it – it’ll be a great session.
T his article originally appeared in MarTech Advisor on May 3, 2017.
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As I am sure many of our European customers and partners are aware, in May 2018 the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will go into effect. GDPR is a set of new laws across Europe that are designed to protect EU citizens’ data privacy and reshape the way organizations approach data privacy.
This will obviously have an impact on Lithium and our EU customers, and we have received a number of questions around this. Given this, we have published details on our policies and guidelines page on where things stand. Check it out here, and please let us know of any questions: https://community.lithium.com/t5/Policies-and-Guidelines/GDPR-Compliance/ta-p/300485
And rest assured, Lithium is continually examining and documenting our internal processes and any aspects of our product portfolio that relate to personal data handling, not just to ensure regulatory compliance, but more importantly to achieve best practices and satisfy our customers’ needs.
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On May 25, 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will go into effect. GDPR is a set of new data privacy laws across Europe that are designed to protect EU citizens’ data privacy and reshape the way organizations approach data privacy.
We have been receiving an increasing number of questions on this, so wanted to provide an update on the steps Lithium is taking to ensure we are compliant. Here goes...
Lithium began working on GDPR compliance months ago. Fortunately, we had a good head start, having already implemented compliance with EC Standard Contractual Clauses – a much more demanding standard than either the old “Safe Harbor” or the new “Privacy Shield” - so we have already implemented much of what is needed for GDPR compliance. We’ve also worked with outside EU counsel to ensure we correctly interpret how GDPR will affect Lithium specifically, and to ensure we are handling EU personal data correctly. For example, we confirmed our interpretations of consent requirements and other legal bases for processing personal data and exporting personal data from the EEA with our EU counsel. As we near the May 2018 effective date for GDPR, Lithium will complete its GDPR compliance measures. Lithium is continually examining and documenting our internal processes and any aspects of our product portfolio that relate to personal data handling, not just to ensure regulatory compliance, but more importantly to achieve best practices and satisfy our customers’ needs.
If you’re looking for more information, I’ve included links below to our privacy policies, details on our subprocessors, and the official sites for GDPR and EC Standard Contractual Clauses. And I know this is complicated, so if you have specific questions, leave them in the comments and I’ll make sure they get addressed.
Subprocessor web page: https://community.lithium.com/t5/Policies-and-Guidelines/What-companies-are-subprocessors-to-Lithium/ta-p/207777
Official GDPR site: http://www.eugdpr.org/
Details on EC Standard Contractual Clauses: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/data-protection/international-transfers/transfer/index_en.htm
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What does a great customer experience mean to you?
The answer to this question varies depending on the customer and the brand they interact with. But there are some recurring themes, especially when it comes to the digital customer experience.
Customers want the same level of service across digital – regardless of whether it’s on email, phone, Twitter, on a chat support module, or any other digital touchpoint. Customers want a fast, concise and accurate reply – not an automated response that fails to meet their needs. And, most importantly, customers want brands to meet them in their location of choice regardless of where that is.
#DYK: 83% of customers say a great customer experience is more important than a great product.
Don’t forget: nothing is more impactful or long lasting than a positive end-to-end experience with a brand.
So now it’s your turn. What does a great experience with a brand mean to you? Let us know in the comments below!
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In a panel discussion, leaders from Twitter, Medium, Lithium as well as Brian Kramer discussed how brands can leverage user generated content (UGC). Joining us were Dennis Todisco, Head of Digital Creator Community, Niche – Twitter; Keren Goldshlager, Publisher Development, Medium; Bryan Kramer, TED Speaker, Author, and CEO, PureMatter; and Katy Keim, CMO, Lithium.
It was a fascinating discussion that touched on a variety of hot UGC topics. Here’s a recap of the main points. We invite you to watch the full recording at your earliest convenience here.
Authenticity in content This was a big and a recurrent topic in the discussion. Authenticity is critical to customers and to UGC creators as well. One of the ways Twitter’s Niche service ensures authenticity is by matching content creators who are naturally passionate about a subject matter that a brand exemplifies. For example, matching UGC creators who love organic food and dogs, with organic dog food brands. Medium also encourages brands to invite contributed content by people who resonate with their audiences.
Best practices for compensating UGC creators today All three guests agree that today’s fulltime UGC creators expect to be compensated financially, and not with product. While a few years ago it was acceptable to exchange product for UGC, the business model of engaging with professional UGC creators has matured. Brands are encouraged to work with intermediary companies who already know the current standards and who have done all the groundwork. Additionally, it’s a best practice to ensure audiences know that UGC is sponsored by the brand.
Mistakes brands are making with UGC A common mistake is that brands do not engage with UGC creators early enough in the process. Bringing them in as co-creators in the strategy phase can develop stronger campaigns and content. Brands also trip up when they stop truly surprising and delighting people in ways that leave a strong impression and win hearts. Finally, when brands create content marketing wants to produce, but fail to determine if it is what and how audiences want to consume it, they can waste time and money on ineffective campaigns.
What to measure in UGC campaigns All panelists agreed that it’s important to see UGC as top of the funnel, and to level-set expectations up front when it comes to impact. Engagement rates are critical to monitor.
Again, we invite you to watch the recording of the panel discussion for the in-depth discussion on UGC.
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Rent bikes and ride them over the Golden Gate Bridge. Coast down into Sausalito for lunch afterwards (Bar Bocce is great, so is Napa Valley Burger Co) then you can take the ferry back across to SF!.
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Thanks for the feedback @stevekrohn. Beyond just the study results, I think this holds true for almost every Facebook user's experience. I searched for a pair of running shoes online a few months ago, then ended up buying them instore. Now, every time I log onto FB my feed is full of running shoe ads!!!! i think the one main thing that ad targeting fails to take into account is "how much is too much."
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In partnership with Nielsen/Harris Poll, we just published a study that dives into if/how different generations want to connect with brands on social media channels. It contains some really alarming results that suggests brands might want to rethink “push-only” strategies that rely too heavily on ads. In fact, the study finds that 56% of younger generations (Gen Z/millennials) have actually stopped or cut down using certain social media sites because of ads.
Today’s younger consumers, raised almost entirely in the digital era, are much more likely to trust information they seek out themselves – whether on blogs, websites or online communities. This makes it all the more crucial that brands adopt a Total Community strategy that extends their reach via an army of stakeholders and ensures they show up in the right places. You can’t be everywhere all the time, but you can ensure that the right people have the right information to form a favorable and knowledgeable opinion of your brand.
For more info, you can:
Get full details on the Lithium website: http://bit.ly/1ZibxHF
Check out the infographic: http://bit.ly/1rXA3DY
Read about it in the SF Chronicle: http://bit.ly/1UC0D0n
or hear Marketing Dive’s point of view: http://bit.ly/1TLm9gK
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It'll be interesting to watch if/how Facebook evolves, adds new features that lend themselves to brands being able to engage with customers. This definitely seems like a step in the right direction.
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figuring out how to get around - public transportation, cabs, ferries, best shortcuts. Sad, I know, but i feel much more comfortable once I've figured this out.
Meeting a local or two - not just another tourist. It's always great getting to meet locals in new places. gives you a better sense of what that place is all about.
making sure our room is set up for a good night's sleep - doesn't matter if I'm at home or not, sleep is of the utmost importance!!!
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