Peer content: when marketing meets care

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Marketing and customer care intersect at peer content, which results in more interaction on social. Something that too many marketers treat and measure like TV.

As I listened to various presenters at a recent conference in New York, one striking observation jumped out at me: the unanswered demand for scalable engagement built on peer versus brand content.

As further evidence of the developing connection between marketing and care, a sweet spot for the Useful Social Media events, the use of peer content in a marketing campaign is what’s next.

Marketers have established tools for digital publishing; successful campaigns across both social and email were referenced during the conference. Missing was the integration of those campaigns deep into the organization.

Customer care has made great advances in connecting peer knowledge gained in support communities with customers in broad-reach social channels like Twitter and Facebook. Customer care has also made companion advances in connecting social care agents with subject matter experts elsewhere inside their organizations.

By comparison, the social media marketing cases studies presented were largely run by Marketing, within Marketing, and for the benefit of Marketing.

The result was a series of push campaigns – each successful in its own right as measured by current accepted metrics like reach, open rate, and cost per impression – but with generally little customer interaction beyond sharing, entering a contest, or playing an associated game.

Even moreso, the tendency to run the campaigns as marketing efforts led to thin (if any) engagement of peers beyond sharing the run-up of “likes” rather than more valuable engagement with subject matter experts.

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Simply put, the case studies looked and were measured like TV campaigns, rather than the opportunities for organic, sustained engagement.

Conference attendees, to their credit, asked about each of the following:

  • Social lead generation, the purposeful discovery of and engagement within conversations in which subject matter experts connected with customers (to prevent defections) and prospects (to facilitate conversion) for the purpose of measurably enhancing sales
  • Pre-sales agents engaging with digital prospects to directly drive conversion following a campaign for a new product or service
  • The use of peer-generated and -curated content in outbound marketing campaigns as both a source of valuable content that customers readily engage with, and as a way to further encourage the generation of new content by customers.

Those are all examples of the next evolution of marketing on the social web: the direct use of resources outside of marketing to increase social media’s effectiveness by spreading the engagement base and content pool.

It will include resources outside of the marketing organization, and its providers and long-standing content partners.

A great start. But what about the next steps? What about the opportunity for sustained engagement to improve sales or satisfaction objectives, or increase the visibility of peer content and thereby improving the important connection between marketing and customer care?

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Consider the following as campaign starters, each of which can be built on what you are already doing:

  • Aim for sustained engagement. Making the step from repeated campaigns that pique interest to sustained engagement built around durable, long-running topics of interest to customers requires the combined use of demand generation and peer conversations. By investing in the use of peer content, which by definition is of interest to customers, you can transform interest into bonds through sustained engagement in peer conversations.
  • Increase the visibility of peer content. As a straightforward value enhancement, use curated content harvested from your existing customer-driven support forums or knowledge base. The value created when peer content forms the basis for marketing campaigns is a proven plus for ROI.
  • Improve the important connection between marketing and customer care. The general relationship between customer satisfaction – impacted largely by customer care – and top-line growth (along with renewals) makes clear the importance of cooperation between marketing and customer care teams in ensuring that excellent care experiences translate into reduced churn and/or improved conversions.

Building your social media marketing campaigns requires adoption and mastery of digital tools, as well as ensuring coordination between organizational units. By connecting marketing and customer care, you can further muscle to your marketing efforts.

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