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There’s no doubt that social media has changed marketing. From the altered customer journey to new challenges gaining and keeping audience trust, marketers today are working with an entirely different set of rules. The new landscape has led some marketers to double down on what’s familiar: Writing more content, spending more money on ads, and investing in increased brand awareness.
However, there is a new avenue of connection and trust-building with customers called social validation. Social validation involves partnering with customers and empowering them to help each other. Our ebook titled, Crowdsourcing Customers, explains that employing social validation as a marketing strategy isn’t as complicated as it might initially seem and, in fact, well-known brands are currently outperforming their markets today using this strategy. Let’s learn what marketers need to know about social validation and how they can best use it.
Social validation is, quite simply, seeking the input of peers to influence decisions. While the idea of using social validation as a marketing strategy might be relatively new, the concept is one of the oldest human activities — Asking friends and family what they think about everything from a major life transition to a purchase is nothing new. The difference now is that consumers can now cast a much wider net instantly — one that spans the entire internet.
Today’s consumers want input about products and services directly from other people like them, and social media is an excellent place to find the social validation they crave. The key for marketers is to join those conversations in a natural way.
Social validation fuels four of the top ten internet sites: Youtube, Wikipedia, Facebook, and Reddit are all based on user-generated content. And, as our ebook notes, most people use at least one of these sites every day.
But while sites like the above, and others like Amazon and Quora, provide consumers with useful peer input, it can be challenging for brands to keep up with the constantly evolving expectations and technologies of these sites. Third-party sites simply do not offer brands the consistency and control they need to ensure a positive customer experience, and brands cannot count on access to customer data from third-party sites. It’s still important for brands to maintain a presence on sites where social validation happens so that they can be part of the conversation — brands need to know what consumers are saying about their products on Amazon, for example, and brands can monitor sub-Reddits and join Facebook groups. But hosting a place where these types of conversations and interactions can occur takes your brand’s marketing strategy to the next important level: Enter, the branded community.
An online branded community is a centralized place designed and managed by the brand that hosts customers, prospects, and even experts. In a branded community, various groups can gather to learn from and support each other by offering advice, trouble-shooting, and, crucially, providing social validation. In a branded community, marketers can easily access people with similar interests and concerns and, while consumers view products and services and ask questions, brands can monitor each interaction to ensure a consistently positive customer experience.
Branded communities also address other challenges presented by third-party sites, especially when it comes to data and privacy. With a branded community brands have access to the data gathered and it belongs to the brand rather than being monetized by a third party. Not only can brands alleviate the privacy concerns of their customers, they can also foster much deeper engagement with their audience.
Our ebook addresses how leading brands like AirBnB, Sephora, and Microsoft use communities to increase customer engagement, reduce support costs, and delight and create advocates by providing multi-faceted, rich social validation. This builds brands and grows businesses.
Khoros can help you build your community today, and a good place to start understanding the value is with our latest ebook.
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