Marketers have long defined brands in terms of experiences. Here at Percolate we like to think of brand as the sum of all the interactions a person has with your company, its content, its products, and its people. But brands organizing their teams and strategies around Customer Experience (CX)  is a more recent phenomenon. We’ve all heard the hype about millennial consumers, their desire to buy experiences over products, and how brands should seek to appease them. And as the largest generation with ever-increasing purchasing power, it’s no wonder this is top of mind for many marketers.

As social media entered the purview of brands, many marketers assumed that social would be the solution to their CX woes. Social provides a fast, direct way for brands to reach their customers and for their customers to interact with them. In reality, the ease of social has increased the demand for high-quality, on-brand, and experiential content but hasn’t provided them a means to create that content without significantly increasing production costs.

While brands need to be active on social media, care for their customers, and create a consistent brand experience, this should neither be a siloed initiative for the social team nor the core of the overall marketing strategy – customer experience on social is just one pillar in an integrated, omnichannel marketing plan built to sustain long-term growth.

Bad Content is Bad Customer Experience

A common misconception is that great customer experience lies primarily in your “live” interactions with customers (i.e. on social, in stores, through customer support). So, when brands talk about investing in customer experience, they often tend to focus on changing these “downstream” processes – how to best reach their customers rather than how to engage them once you’ve reached them.

Providing great reactive or live care to your customers is important, but brands need to think holistically about their customer’s experience and journey to (and beyond) purchase. This should inform how you plan and produce all your marketing content, not just your social or customer care. Your brand’s competitors are likely activating on the same channels as you. What actually makes your brand distinct and where the marketer can have the most impact is the “content of your content” — not as much the channel on which it’s distributed. For instance, the fact that your brand is making content for Snapchat is great – but what’s more important is the effectiveness of that content, how it relates to your other channels, and how consistently you deliver it.

This means you need to bring CX “upstream” and incorporate it into your integrated marketing strategy. Brands should map their customer journey as part of developing their content strategy, and use this as a guide to create content that provides them with a seamless experience across touchpoints and channels.

The Future is Omnichannel, Not Siloed

Brands that invest too heavily in social-only tools and strategies risk siloing their social media function. This is not only inefficient, but actually poses risks to customer experience. If your social content and care is created separately from your other marketing, you risk inconsistencies in messaging and visual brand elements.

  1. All your content should share the same brand DNA – even if it’s optimized to perform on a specific channel. The way your social content relates to your other brand collateral (i.e. OOH, TV Ads, retail store design) matters for customer experience.
  2. Invest in tools that allow maximum visibility into what’s being produced across the organization to surface opportunities to repurpose content across channels.
  3. Don’t tie your strategy too closely to a single platform – particularly in the case of social media, where the relevant channels are constantly changing.

In fact, our research shows that social media is just one pillar of marketing  investment at leading brands. Brands need to be investing in and developing a balanced, omnichannel strategy that allows them to reach the greatest number of potential buyers – many of whom are on social – and generate the greatest ROI.

In the video gaming industry in particular, creating experiential activations around your products is key. But truly building a global brand is about more than setting up showroom events for new games or posting on social about your latest release – it’s about driving consistency between all these customer touch points. The experience of those who went to your event needs to align with those who see your TV ad, billboards, or social content. For one global gaming brand, Percolate provides the marketing team with one centralized system to plan and collaborate on all campaigns, regardless of product line, channel, country, or team. By housing all content, assets, and ideation in one place, the global organization is able to create content from a single source of truth both for complex brand activations and daily social content.

If You’re Reacting, It’s Too Late

Time and time again we’ve seen brands going on the defense – whether quelling a major PR crisis or responding to day-to-day customer dissatisfaction. It’s important to have an easy and effective mechanism for responding to the public on these occasions, particularly on social, where negative information about your brand can spread like wildfire. But don’t underestimate the importance of:

  1. Defining your customer care and crisis messaging and strategy on a global scale – collaborate on and circulate official messaging internally across regional teams, so everyone is on the same page.
  2. Standardizing it across channels – messages distributed on social need to match those given by your support team, your PR team, and at any other customer touchpoint.
  3. Invest in preventative measures – Got an edgy, topical new TV ad? How about  investing in a clear, structured planning and approvals process to make sure your attention-grabbing idea is actually on-message? Organizing a product launch that will have lines around the block? How about investing in technology that will help everyone on your team collaborate and stay on track, so customers don’t wait for nothing?

More Targeted Content isn’t Necessarily Better Content

Don’t mistake providing a great customer experience with hyper-targeted marketing efforts that won’t actually help you grow your brand. While providing great experiences and customer care is critical to building and maintaining your brand, these types of investments aren’t likely to drive the most revenue growth. Finding the right balance of investment for your brand should be strategic priority set by marketing leadership – but a focus on loyalty marketing should certainly not be the default.

Ultimately, customer experience goes far beyond your brand’s social media strategy. Social is an important pillar of customer experience – it can help brands better understand and connect with their audience. But without a means to produce consistent, on-brand, and engaging content for this audience, the far bigger CX problem figuring out how to collaborate effectively across team and channels to pull off truly great CX at scale.

Want to learn about more trends that are impacting marketing strategy this year? Download our 50 Most Important Marketing Charts of 2017.