Why manufacturers need to plot a social route to success

From initial discovery to first purchase and ongoing brand advocacy, social media has the potential to serve your brand on every step of the customer journey, if you take the right approach.

Published ·January 10, 2024

Reading time·3 min

Manufacturing brands can no longer ignore social media or view it solely as a cheap marketing tool. The major networks exert a huge influence over the entirety of the customer journey and your brand needs to recognize and harness this power by actively integrating social media into its approach to customer experience. 

And this is especially true for any brand that’s currently trying to diversify its go-to-market strategy or move into the direct-to-consumer space. When you cut out the middleman, you may have more control over your products, pricing and brand messaging. But without a clear strategy for meeting customers where they are in order to create engagement and build brand awareness, control will quickly become chaos.  

Don’t dismiss CX  

It can be easy to dismiss customer experience or downplay its significance, but the fact is that in any industry or marketplace and in particular sectors where the goods and services have become commodities, the brands that lead stay ahead because their CX — not their pricing model — differentiates them from their competitors.  

And in moments of economic uncertainty, a positive CX can make the difference between retaining or losing customers who are actively reviewing all existing brand relationships not simply in terms of cost, but in terms of perceived value. Social platforms are where consumer concerns combine with customer advocacy, criticisms and shared tales of positive or negative CX and where an increasing number of people discover or form an initial opinion of a brand.  

Social influence  

For 62% of all consumers and 81% of under 45s, social media posts and online reviews directly influence brand choices. This means that comments, shared posts and other social content carries as much weight in the brand discovery and consideration steps of the sales funnel as any owned touchpoint or marketing activity.  

Social media is key to customer acquisition and brand reputation management. But it’s equally key to customer understanding. The leading platforms are full of valuable insights about consumer preferences, changing tastes and overall perception of industry sectors or individual brands within those spaces. All it takes to capture those insights are regular social listening exercises. With the right approach and methodology, social listening will help you identify and monitor trends, highlight potential weaknesses within your current CX delivery, gain greater understanding of consumer sentiment towards products and understand wider issues or changes within the marketplace that could influence future decision-making.  

Authentic advertising  

When an approach to social CX is informed through social listening, it also empowers your brand to become a proactive participant in the conversations your existing and potential customers are having about you and to turn those interactions into authentic forms of advocacy and advertising. Over half of all consumers and over 70% of 18-44-year-olds publicly share at least one positive brand experience on social or review aggregation platforms every year. Directly engaging with these people will help strengthen existing relationships with a view to creating brand ambassadors.  

But don’t stop there — the influence of social media means that more consumers would be prepared to share a positive experience or leave a review. For 17% of consumers, all it would take is for the brand to ask them to post, while 21% would make it a routine action if it were part of a loyalty or incentive program. 

Greater control  

Social media is a way for manufacturers to take control of their CX narrative and provides a path to direct customer engagement, wherever that brand sits within a wider value or supply chain.  

However, as well as for advocacy, customers will use the same channels to share criticism. And organizations with poor customer insights and an unfocused approach to CX are going to be more exposed to dealing with negative social media posting and sharing — 42% of consumers, including half of 25-44-year-olds use social channels to complain about CX. 

But social media is just a single aspect of customer experience. To discover more about how manufacturers can overcome industry challenges while moving closer to their customers, read our best practice guide “If you build it, they will come: The best practice guide to CX in manufacturing.”