Social comments from customers and prospects are invaluable to brands, and missing an opportunity to engage with customers on social media is a sure way to slow growth and hinder loyalty. 

In pursuit of insights around social listening and best practices, Amplify.ai recently featured Curology on a webinar with Glossy where they dove deeper into the idea of comments as a new currency and how engaging with customers on social media is vital. 

Their conversation highlights how engaging with customers on social channels in effective and meaningful ways is driving brand value across marketing, CX and product development. 

Social listening influences product development, content and brand strategy 

It’s clear that social engagement is an increasingly essential way for brands to listen to their customers — people buying on social and because of social is on the rise. The number of U.S. social commerce buyers is expected to grow 12.9% to 90.4 million in 2021, alone, as eMarketer reports. On Instagram, according to recent research that Facebook commissioned with Ipsos, the global market research company, 54% of survey respondents bought something because they saw a product or service on the platform.

Curology’s social community, to echo those stats, “is so active and involved in telling us exactly what they want to see from us, what we’re doing right, what we’re doing wrong, how our products work, areas of opportunity to improve — so I think we have this pool of gems that we could take and turn into actionable steps,” said Chanta Gordh, head of social media at Curology. 

Active social communities are a treasure trove of insights brands should use to improve their offerings for customers. “We have a ton of comments asking for a new format of this or a new type of product that could influence our product development strategy,” Gordh said. The ability for customers to engage with brands on social media provides brands with a much easier way to learn what their customers want from them — whether that’s a new product, a reformulation or something else entirely. 

As with aggregating comments about similar product requests, making note of similar questions regarding content gaps can provide brands with a way to update their content strategy. For example, Curology noticed many comments on their social channels asking “does this treat dark spots” or “do you have anything that treats dark spots,” so they knew it was time to update their content around that topic to give more in-depth knowledge to their community. 

As Gordh added: “Gathering insights from our community really does influence our product development, our content strategy, and gives guidance as to what we could be doing in the future.”

For high-volume comments and DMs, AI is streamlining the brand response

While it’s a big task, replying to every comment and every DM is critical when brands are building and maintaining an active social community. 

“For Curology, our rule for our team is that we definitely want to answer each and every question, each and every comment. We want to build community in this way, and we don’t want it to be one-sided,” said Gordh.

While manually combing through every comment and DM is tedious, connecting social channels to an AI to tag comments, DMs and the like is enabling brands to automatically direct customers down the correct funnel — whether that’s marketing and sales or CS resolution. 

“Amplify.ai’s platform allows everything to be organized and in one place,” Gordh added. “And then you can efficiently go through and respond to the comments and reach everything without having to manually source it in-app.”

For brands, transparency is key in the comments section 

For brands like Curology, transparency is part of their brand identity — real results for real people. And while some brands may police their comments section to avoid any negative comments, Curology embraces all sentiments: “We let it all hang out there,” Gordh said.  

Each brand must determine where they draw the line. The bottom line is, comments do impact purchase decisions. One brand might want to hide paid ads, as most of the time they are perceived to be spam or irrelevant. Meanwhile, specifically in the beauty industry, it can be important to hide competitor mentions to keep the conversation centered around the engaging brand, their product and how they want to be perceived. 

In other examples, some companies may not want to include comments in cases where customers did not like the product. Other brands will decide this kind of transparency gives prospective customers a fuller picture of how people feel about the item. This is especially important for health and beauty brands, where one product may not work for all customers. “When people are looking through the comments, they get a real perspective of what is being said. They can determine if Curology is right for them or not,” said Gordh. 

If a brand decides they do want to hide some comments, AI can help brands manage this as well. When hiding extremely negative comments or self-promoting competitors, the brand can then engage with them in a personalized, private way, such as via DM, to get to the root of the problem. 

Utilizing social listening is more imperative given the increase in customers purchasing online and the amount of engagement businesses receive on social channels. Effectively engaging with customers via social media through social listening, replying to all interactions and steering a course toward transparency is helping brands to stand out among consumers and grow the active communities that will continue to drive returns.

“Being able to organize and sort comments and DMs to automatically lead customers down the correct funnels with customized responses is invaluable to all brands,” said Stefan Mayo, head of brand partnerships at Amplify.ai. “It’s wonderful to see a brand like Curology capitalize on the huge amount of social engagement they receive on a daily basis to deliver consumer insights, drive lead generation and sales, increase customer retention and more.”