By RDBA Executive Director, Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
The challenge with social engagement with consumers is that it continues to evolve, and does so quickly. Consider these five terms about evolving systems in consumer engagement:
Chat Bots: If you've ever been in the process of ordering online and had a chat box pop up asking if you need help, you've engaged with a chat bot. They operate as auditory or text-based exchanges that simulate a real conversation. In the future, instead of going to a shoe retailer’s website, searching for the shoes you want, and ordering them, you'll use a bot on Facebook to message that retailer about what you want, and the bot will find it for you. In the retail grocery world, chat bots could be used in online ordering, to make suggestive health selling while the consumer does online shopping, or to answer nutrition and health questions on your retailers' website. Don't be concerned that chat bots will replace you (because someone with your expertise will need to program them and feed their content) but consider them as a way to extend your message.
User-Generated Content (UGC): According to Adweek, 93% of consumers find UGC helpful when making a purchase decision. Whether it's videos of a consumer using a product or service, a shopper review of one of your classes, a shopper-created video using a new healthy product you promoted during a tour, or a contest to name a new recipe you're working on, finding ways to incorporate UGC into your messaging will increase the number of shoppers engaging with you in social spheres.
Chat apps: Because they offer easy multimedia functions, group chats, video calls, gaming and much more, chat apps are replacing standard SMS messaging. Whatsapp, for example, already has more than 300 million users every month.
Vanity Metrics: Like, followers, page views -- these are all what's considered vanity metrics, and it's time to walk away from them. After all, there's no way to tie these vanity metrics to action that matters to your retailer, such as sales.
Conversion Metrics: This is what matters when it comes to tracking the impact of social engagement. Did the shopper actually do something when they engaged with you in a social environment, such as follow a link to your YouTube channel, download something, make a recommendation, give you a rating, pin it, bookmark, watch or read something?