Instead of delivering one-sided messages in the name of customer outreach, companies around the world are now exploring opportunities to initiate organic two-way engagement with their target audiences. The growing fervor around live audio is part of this growing trend, as evidenced by the rise of new social audio applications such as Clubhouse and Greenroom as well as the introduction of dedicated audio rooms by established social media platforms such as than Facebook and Twitter.
As brands explore the dynamics of this development, it behooves us to ask ourselves: does this mark the dawn of a new era of “Audio as a Service” for audience engagement?
Before answering this question, it’s essential to understand how brands use social listening to improve engagement and inform business strategies.
More Than It Looks: How Social Listening Opens Up A New Wave Of Business Strategies
While communication has traditionally been about talking to their customers’ businesses, modern brands gradually tailor their interactions to their audience’s preferences, sensitivities, and interests by listening to them. Research suggests that 96% of dissatisfied customers are more likely to share their disappointment story with 15 of their friends than with the brand itself. Therefore, digital channels such as Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook have become crucial sources of information for brands to capture the sentiment and informal comments of their customers.
The concept is not new; brands have been improving the customer experience by listening to their social conversations for years. Take the example of L’Oréal, which has used social listening to “fuel its product development cycle” and capture the pulse of conversations on social networks, including YouTube, to identify the issues and opinions of its customers. . The brand combined trend analysis and expert advice to launch its new product in 2011 with great success.
However, as personalization becomes a non-negotiable requirement for customer engagement in the post-pandemic landscape, brands realize the need to maximize the quality and depth of their data. As a result, audio platforms are becoming an integral part of the brand’s communications arsenal, which already includes omnichannel engagement hubs, CPaaS-based conversation management platforms, and automated chatbots. The idea? Delivering the right content to the right customer on the right platform at the right time.
Ears Have It: Delivering Personalized, Relevant, and Up-to-Date Audio Engagement Experiences
Audio platforms are different from other communication channels in three main ways. For starters, they can be used to initiate a 1: 1 conversation while driving many engagements simultaneously. Applications such as Clubhouse are prime examples of this approach; while a speaker usually speaks to one person at a time, the message is passed on to all participants in the discussion.
Additionally, since anyone can be a speaker, these apps provide a unique opportunity to accommodate multiple perspectives that drive organic and real-time changes in the discussion. Not only does this approach improve engagement, it also improves the depth, breadth, and quality of audience information that brands can extract and use to drive better results.
Then there is the opportunity to engage in interesting conversations. This, to an extent, is already trending on social media, where brands invite and participate in conversations, both with other brands as well as with individual users, through posts and comments. . However, such engagement, dignified as it is, lacks the human touch inherent in live audio conversations. The brand is no longer a faceless entity but a human voice that warmly complements the mind – leading to more positive associations among the public.
Last but not least is the fluidity of audio engagement channels such as podcasts, which only require passive engagement from the target audience. These channels allow brands to communicate their value propositions in a discreet manner while subtly establishing their leadership in the field.
An integrated omnichannel approach helps brands capture the socio-cultural sentiments of their TG and augment analytics aimed at segmenting demographics into relevant personality groups. Armed with this information, brands can design and execute campaigns that are not only contextually relevant, timely and personalized, but also driven by empathy.
Beyond personalization: communicating brand values to enrich engagement
In the post-2020 landscape, it has become a priority for brands to consider customer emotions, stressors affecting their lives, their desired digital and real experiences, as well as current trends. This is precisely where an omnichannel approach – involving both traditional and offbeat channels – can help modern businesses.
Today’s customers demand that companies become more than vehicles of capitalism and shareholder values. According to a recent study, 89% of respondents expect companies to clearly articulate their values and 90% want them to act accordingly. Brands need to think beyond analytics and view new, offbeat channels not just as sources of data, but as media to drive discussions and spark speeches on important social, cultural, environmental and even political issues. . In doing so, brands can not only drive better business results, but also pay their civic contribution as key players in society. The effectiveness of this approach lies in its ability to deliver a real-time, relevant and personalized engagement experience on unconventional channels while being subordinate to progressive causes that can make a difference in the lives of marginalized people and create a better and healthier environment. , and a more prosperous world for posterity.
This strategy allows brands to reach demographics that typically do not constitute the active user base of popular social media platforms where the primary mode of communication is limited to dominant languages and cultures. At the same time, by linking communication efforts to regional languages, brands can retain customers straddling the two worlds: urban and regional, digital natives and new internet users, academics and the curious.
Social listening has become an effective tool for brands to really know their customers. During the pandemic, about half of marketers around the world began to leverage social listening to understand changing customer preferences. More than half (63%) of social media marketers believe that listening will become more important in the years to come. With a new wave of consumerization spreading in the digital space, brands must leverage a strategic combination of conventional communication channels and unconventional media to better achieve their TG in the most relevant way possible. Engagement, if done well, can open up exceptional communication opportunities.
As companies begin to embrace content in audio format as part of their outreach strategy, it is safe to say that the era of “audio as a service” has already begun to unfold. The ways to provide distinct and diverse content personalized for each type of customer are endless. The question is whether brands would prefer to be early adopters, take advantage of the advantages offered by new developments and ride the new wave of innovation or potentially risk not taking advantage of the next communication trend.
Sudhish Sitaram is Regional Marketing Manager – India, Infobip.