Brands are increasingly looking for ways to connect with consumers, and the vast majority have expanded their online presence on several social media platforms to meet customers where they're spending their time. While these channels allow for great relationship-building dialogue between brands and customers, they’ve also opened the floodgates for individuals with bad intentions to spam, maliciously post fake reviews, and to create toxic content.
According to a recent report by our team at TELUS International, over half of American consumers (54 percent) have seen an increase in deceptive user-generated content (UGC) since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, with 15 percent witnessing inaccurate and crude pieces of content every day. Close to half (45 percent) of respondents stated they lose trust in a brand if its channels exposed them to inappropriate UGC. With these implications in mind, how can brands navigate the good, the bad and the "ugly" of social media to provide the safest, most positive and authentic experience for customers? Consider these three tactics:
1. Invest in the right tech to personalize and protect.
There's a wealth of available online interactions that can help brands improve their overall strategy by analyzing the content that customers create and share on their personal accounts. Investing in content moderation alongside text and image recognition will help automate the analysis process and enable brands to adjust their products and marketing efforts to truly strike a chord with their audience. Additionally, this technology can also increase a brand's view into what's being "said" about it as it manages its online presence, responds to online complaints, and flags inappropriate UGC quickly and efficiently.
Epsilon shared that the majority of consumers (80 percent) are more likely to do business with a company if it offers a personalized experience. And given that brands and their customers are increasingly beginning their relationships on social media, personalization must extend to these channels where it isn’t just about a brand’s content or how much promotional spend is placed behind a social post; it’s about the way a brand communicates with its audience. For instance, brands can answer customer inquiries on social media with funny or cheeky responses, if that aligns with their brand, to create impactful and long-lasting impressions on their customers as well as encourage further social media engagements.
2. Reiterate the importance of engaging with consumers.
Brands that actively engage with their customers on social media not only increase the likelihood of retention but also build a longtime consumer base. We found that over half (53 percent) of consumers were likely to purchase a product from a brand because of a positive social media experience, such as engaging with a review or responding to a social post it had made.
This type of brand-customer relationship is no longer a luxury but a necessity. According to a Harris Poll report on behalf of Sprout Social, 80 percent of today’s consumers actually expect companies to interact with them on social media. And according to Instagram, 70 percent of shoppers look to the platform to inform their next purchase, reinforcing that this type of engagement may be the top way for brands to establish a connection.
Finally, it's inevitable that a negative review may make its way on a social media channel. Should this arise, a well-thought-out engagement strategy that addresses the complaint publicly and also absorbs the information internally to make necessary changes to a product or process will help companies reinforce their commitment to its customers.
3. Leverage social listening and content moderation to deal with information overload.
With billions of people connected and regularly posting on social media channels, effective monitoring tools are imperative to managing a brand’s online reputation while keeping your customers safe. Though access to information has never been easier, it’s also led to more misinformation. Domo shared that an average of 456,000 tweets and 46,740 Instagram posts are shared every minute. That's a lot of content to sift through.
While consumers can help flag and report toxic content, having a team of experienced content moderators can enable your brand to address the content before your customers ever see it, thereby helping to preserve the customer experience. Undoubtedly, the benefits of tech-assisted human content moderation are unmatched and essential for obtaining and sustaining customer trust. To effectively moderate, brands must combine the best mix of human intervention and technology automation to ensure their UGC content remains appropriate and relevant.
The Value of Brand Trust
According to Edelman, highly trusted brands are seven times more likely to be purchased from, especially following the global crises that have unfolded over the past year. This presents an opportunity for brands to stand out among their competitors and to demonstrate that they care. With the influx of customer opinion and sentiment from social media — including good and bad — content moderation, text and image analysis, and other social media CX services such as ad moderation, are essential tools to prevent and remove inappropriate UGC and foster brand trust and appreciation.
Jim Radzicki is the chief technology officer at TELUS International, a customer experience innovator that designs, builds and delivers next-gen digital solutions for global and disruptive brands.
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