woman looking at social media cat videos on her computer

Three social media trends that will impact your customer experience in 2020

Trends

The relationship status between customer experience and social media would likely be set to 'It's complicated'.

Although social media provides new, exciting ways for brands to connect with consumers, businesses have also found that customers can be quick to air their complaints on social sites. And, in the days before social customer care strategies were more commonplace, many brands found themselves drowning in damage control as negative posts about their products, services and company spread virally across the web.

Over time, businesses began to view Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and their ilk as valuable customer service channels, and developed action plans for engaging with customers via the online sites they frequented. While the benefits have been realized, one major challenge remains: How to keep pace with evolving social trends.

As we approach the new year, you can expect to see the following three major trends in the customer service space.

1. Tapping in to private communities

Private communities, like Slack, Discord and even private subs on Reddit, are quickly becoming important channels for customer care. These channels either require users to request permission to join, or they need to have the proper link to access the server - a far cry from the traditionally public forums of Twitter and Facebook.

Through velvet rope communities like these, brands can set up a customer forum where users can ask questions and find answers to their customer service queries. For Slack in particular, support teams can use the channel to enhance customer loyalty and drive brand awareness by releasing updates and interesting content through the channel.

Discord, meanwhile, offers voice and text-based chat for gamers, and can be integrated into an existing customer service platform so players can get help without leaving the community. Discord's usefulness is not solely limited to gaming, however. Vertcoin, a type of cryptocurrency, uses Discord to share upcoming events and reports about its product. In marketing communications for its Discord network, the company says followers can use it to "talk about Vertcoin and the future of money."

2. YouTube: More than just cat videos

With 1.59 billion daily active users, Facebook remains the most popular social site — but a third of all internet users watch more than a billion hours of video every day on YouTube. Further, Trust Insights and Talkwalker recently measured interest in major social sites based on search volume and found that YouTube had the most account creation searches in 2019, followed by Discord, Instagram, Facebook and Slack, in that order. These factors, among others, makes it an ideal channel for promoting your brand's videos, partnering with influencers to expand your exposure and conducting social listening to get a read on your customers.

Additionally, by encouraging customers to visit your brand's YouTube channel for self-service content, you can reduce the strain on your contact center. For example, Citizens Bank uses its YouTube account to share "Overdraft 101" videos that tackle subjects like 'overdraft plan options' and those that answer basic customer inquires questions like 'Why did I get that fee?' Similarly, Nintendo uses YouTube to post videos about issues like how to set up a family membership for its Nintendo Switch devices.

3. The growing link between social and search

Social and search are becoming closely linked, particularly YouTube and Google (which are owned by the same company). YouTube videos, and other user-generated content is increasingly being featured by search engines as well.

Last year, social media management platform Hootsuite conducted an experiment to determine whether social media has a positive impact on search engine rankings. The company discovered a "strong correlation between social activity and rankings." Hootsuite adds that quality is more important than quantity when it comes to social media posts. "If you impress the right person enough to share your content on their website, you'll see a boost in search rank and search visibility," the company's experts note.

Moderating social media content to ensure it's current and correct is vital as well, as outdated or negative content can affect your brand reputation. In addition to the obvious channels, be sure to stay on top of public forums like Quora, which customers use to ask questions and to post reviews. With more than 300 million monthly users and content that often appears in search results, it behooves brands to include it as part of their content moderation strategy.

Social media is in a constant state of flux. While there's no guessing what new channels will emerge in 2020, the power of these three trends suggest they've earned a place in your customer service strategy.

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