Alice Fry
Alice Fry 28 February 2020

Leverage The Power Of Conversation And Make Meaningful Connections On Social

The way people use social media is changing. When Facebook started out, the novelty of it meant that people weren’t afraid to engage in more public displays of online communication. For many years, posting on friends’ and business’ walls, sharing statuses and engaging in long public comment threads were very much the norm.

While this behaviour still exists, many users are now seeking more private, authentic conversations with real people - just like in real life. The opportunities this shift presents for businesses are endless.

Social messaging is on the rise 

Since the beginning of 2016, Facebook Messenger has seen a 13% increase in visitation rates, while WhatsApp has seen an impressive 30% increase in the same timeframe.

This messaging trend has deeply impacted how consumers talk to businesses, with 68% of consumers preferring to communicate with businesses' via messenger apps. On a monthly basis, more than 20 billion messages are exchanged between business and users on Facebook Messenger. The rise of Instagram stories has also had an impact on messaging. One-third of most-viewed stories come from businesses, which has led to a sharp increase in people connecting to businesses via direct messaging.

This personal connection between businesses and individuals does amazing things for brands; by prioritising real conversations with individual audience members, businesses are now able to connect on a more personal level, in turn nurturing a stronger customer base, creating advocates and increasing brand loyalty.

Conversation is authenticity

Compared to communicating to the masses via a social media business page, conversations between two people are personal, bespoke and full of useful, specific information. Social media also opens up a much more relaxed and informal landscape for businesses and consumers to communicate, small things like being able to use a customer’s name, insertion of emojis and quick response times all help with a friendly, relatable authenticity.

Bluntly, consumers no longer have time for inauthentic businesses. Social media was created for speed, an instant, yet real, connection that isn’t possible via generic business emails or website forms. Over the years, social media exposure and general brand saturation means people have become clued up about when they’re being sold to, so much so, that even soft sells don’t work as well as they used to. It goes without saying, those people who experience positive and personal contact with a brand, without an incessant sales undertone, are far more likely to hold that brand to high esteem.

You need to be or seem like a real person to be authentic 

While messaging conversations are more authentic than shouting out to the masses, there’s still the danger that businesses will fall short on how they perform in a conversation. For example, no one wants to feel like they’re talking to a robot - even if they are. 

That means no non-personal, staged conversation - this would have the opposite effect of authenticity and actually drive customers away. Essentially, humans want to feel like they’re interacting with other humans, and if they get wind of anything that seems automated - this will have a detrimental impact on how they view a brand. 

Privacy is crucial 

On top of the need for authenticity, the rise of social messaging has been fuelled by social media’s most recent hot topic: privacy. 

Social media users haven’t forgotten the privacy scandals that have plagued the headlines over the last couple of years. Instead, the issue has sparked their preference to create private online connections with peers and businesses alike. 

This trend has had a huge impact on social media’s power. People want to be in control of what they are seeing, what information they’re receiving and how they are being approached, and personal messaging provides just that.

Engagement without meaning is powerless 

While messaging presents an exceptional way for businesses to build stronger bonds with customers, there are some important steps to take before you can start reaping the rewards.

Most importantly, businesses need to make sure their social audience has really bought into what they’re selling.

People only approach brands and businesses that they already feel a connection with. Businesses need to do the legwork to make sure they’re sending out messages that are in line with their audiences’ genuine wants and needs. More often than not, social media users want to feel like they’re championing a brand rather than just consuming it.

How can a business evoke this feeling amongst their audience? By looking beyond the usual audience demographics, such as gender and age, and instead, looking at the 'psychographics' of an audience. 

Psychographics and social power 

'Psychographics' essentially means 'why someone does something' or ‘why someone wants something’.

If a business can connect with these two triggers on an emotional level, they’re far more likely to create a space where an audience feels compelled to approach them directly. For example, brands that champion relevant and up-to-date issues and campaigns, eco-consciousness or body positivity, for example, are far more likely to successfully connect with an audiences’ psychographics.

After a business has connected with the audience on this level, a personal message between them and the individual will more than likely seal the deal. 

The future of messaging 

It’s important to recognise that messaging is not a passing trend. Facebook Messenger is expected to grow to 2.4 billion users by 2021, while there are one billion daily active users of WhatsApp. 

Whatsapp has even launched a business version of the app to help businesses better connect with their customers, with payment taking options on the horizon, too. 

For those still considering social media messaging, the time is now to stay ahead of the curve.  

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