Customer-Centric Selling: How To Put Your Customers at the Heart of Your Social Media Strategy

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Twenty or 30 years ago, marketers were taught that customer-centric selling is about moving buyers through the sales funnel with targeted messaging and offers to purchase. After the sale, we were always taught to continue to nurture and re-engage customers for repeat sales.  

That advice wasn’t wrong and if you still live by it, you probably run a successful business.  

Prioritizing customers’ needs, interests and wants at every touch point is at the heart of every profitable marketing strategy. So, what’s changed? 

It’s not a sales funnel anymore. It’s more like a night sky.

Marketing hasn’t been about moving customers in a linear fashion through a funnel for a while now. That’s because technology has exploded the number of touch points brands make with consumers.  

Like the universe, which is ever-expanding, people have more ways to interact with brands today than ever before. 

The pandemic only accelerated the way we interact with technology; we’re using it more often and in more ways than we did 18 months ago. As a New York Times article puts it, “The Virus Changed the Way We Internet.” More people put down their phones, while increasing the amount of time they spent online. We’re all listening to and watching each other through video conferencing apps like Zoom and social audio sites like Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces. And we’re using social media to connect with each other for entertainment, enlightenment, e-commerce and even angel investors

Americans spent seven minutes more per day, on average, on social media in 2020 than the year before. We’re up to 82 minutes a day, according to data from eMarketer. A recent Pew poll found that a majority of Americans use YouTube and Facebook (a whopping 81% and 69%, respectively), while use of Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok is particularly popular among adults under 30.  

Spurred on by technology and put into hyperdrive by the pandemic, social media has created innumerable consumer touch points. 

The brands that chart the most seamless path to purchase through those touch points will reap the most success. 

With so many steps, it’s become easier to be discovered, but it’s also easier to fall off customers’ radar. Keeping an approach focused on customer-centric selling for all of your marketing activities, including on social media, will help keep you on track to achieving campaign goals — and, more importantly, will keep your customers happy. 

Follow these three tips to put (and keep) customers at the heart of your social media strategy.  

#1: Create Shoppable UGC Content Experiences

There are a few buzzwords in that tip, so let’s start with a quick refresher on what shoppable content is — it’s any content that provides a direct purchasing opportunity. This includes videos, pictures, text messages and long-form print content. 

It’s been around for years and savvy marketers are making a killing with it on Instagram. Stuck at home or feeling unsafe with the idea of in-person shopping, consumers used Instagram Reels and Shop to connect with brands and purchase products. Creators on Instagram can bring these two functions together by tagging products they show in Reels, making it possible for viewers to buy products with a single click. 

There are shoppable video ads on TikTok, and in China, where shoppable media is far more advanced than in the West, influencers drive lucrative sales campaigns on social media through content drops. One livestreamer, Viya, famously sold $30 million of products from 40 New Zealand and Australian brands to her fans in just four hours on a Friday night. 

So, what is shoppable UGC content? 

It’s shoppable media made by a brand’s users, and it’s brilliant.  

A majority of consumers say user-generated photos and videos are what they most want to see from brands. While there’s definitely still a place for slick, highly produced videos and images, customers crave authentic content showcasing real products in real-life settings, with real people using them. 

So how can brands incorporate shoppable user generated content into their sales and marketing strategies? 

One way that makeup brand Lush Cosmetics is seeing success is by featuring shoppable UGC from real customers on its homepage and product pages. When an image is clicked the customer is instantly transported to the relevant product page. By reducing the number of steps customers take to turn the images that inspire them into reality, Lush saw a 333% increase in impressions over branded content.  

The reason for the success is simple — authority and authenticity. Shoppers want to know they can trust a product they can’t touch. Seeing a real person using and loving a product increases trust and purchase intent. 

#2: Use Instagram To Drive Traffic to an Amazon Storefront 

The introduction of a simple “shop now” button in Instagram posts has caused e-commerce possibilities to explode on Instagram. For brands with Amazon storefronts, the opportunity to capitalize on this new shopping opportunity is ripe.  

The pandemic only increased Amazon’s foothold in our lives and brands that can harness the ease, convenience, speed and authority of Amazon and apply it appropriately to social media tactics are seeing incredible success.  

If you determine that your customers spend time on Instagram, make it easy for them to buy your products by linking directly to your Amazon storefront. One benefit to this is knowing fulfillment is in the capable hands of Amazon. 

More than 90 million people engage with shopping posts on Instagram every month. Sixty percent of people on the popular social media platform discover products through it. When they see they can purchase a new product through a trusted site like Amazon, it just makes the sale that much easier. 

By incorporating shop now and profile links to an Amazon storefront into influencer campaigns that leverage Reels and Stories, brands can create serious sales spikes through Instagram. 

Just remember to share more than product images in your Instagram feed. Authenticity is key. Use contests and strategies to encourage UGC of your products and then share that content (with permission) in your feed. 

These strategies don’t just work for retailers alone. Venues and organizations can benefit from them as well. Just ask MoMA. 

The Museum of Modern Art is the most followed museum in the world on social media. It has more than 13 million people following its social media accounts, including over five million on Instagram. How did MoMA gain such a tremendous following? 

It was an early adopter, curating a presence on Instagram and other social channels early after launch, and it fills its feeds with really good content, which is the cornerstone of all successful marketing

#3: Engage Micro-Influencers on Key Social Media Channels 

A third way to put your customers at the heart of your social media strategy is with the targeted use of micro-influencers. With 5,000 to 100,000 followers, these influencers aren’t celebrities, but that doesn’t diminish their effectiveness at promoting your products and services. 

When your target audience aligns with their follower base, and the influencer’s ethos and vibe fit your brand identity, values and messaging, micro-influencers can be a very effective option. Linqia’s State of Influencer Marketing 2021 report found that 90% of enterprise marketers wanted to work with micro-influencers in 2021, which is up from 80% in 2020.  

By having micro-influencers promote your brand with shoppable links, you can combine two of the most effective tactics marketers have in their toolbox right now to increase leads and use your social channels to create awareness, generate goodwill and, of course, drive revenue. 

Other quick hits you can create on Instagram to make your presence there more profitable include the following tips from Social Media Examiner

  • Turn your profile into a digital storefront, optimize your bio and highlight albums and Stories to capture shoppers’ attention. 
  • Make sure your profile reflects and extends your brand identity with a consistent, authentic photo style, branded color scheme and brand elements. 
  • Create personable content, and recognize/reward brand advocates. 
  • Actively manage the shopping experience with tagged products, relevant and timely offerings, clearly visible contact information and promoted posts. 

Final Word: Focus on Content 

We’ve shared a lot of information and many tips here today. The most important thing to keep in mind as you develop your presence on social media is this: Content is king.  

Everything is built upon the foundation of killer content. If you put your time and talent into developing content your audiences enjoy, everything else will ladder up to positive results. 

Take the next step. 

Want help executing customer-centric social media strategy? Let the talented communicators and brand strategists at OBI Creative help you craft a killer campaign.

Connect with us today about your opportunity to make a splash on social media.

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