Social Media and the Virtual Revolution (Part 2): Personal and Brand Communication on Social Media

If you look at the companies and brands that are succeeding on social media, you will notice that they all have one thing in common: their social marketing is consumer-centric. Or, to be more precise, they are people-centric. These brands leverage the power of relationships to build trust, positive experience, and a kind of friendship with their followers.

Communicating in a way that brings customers closer to you is about meeting their needs, understanding their desires, and engaging with them on an interpersonal level. Whilst it may seem as though this is limited to retail brands, nothing could be further from the truth. With very few exceptions, most industries have the power to communicate with their customers and prospective customers in a personal, engaging way.

In the present iteration of social media, there are strategies to be implemented in order to achieve this in a natural way. Behind what seems to be the most casual of conversations is a lot of research and skill, which you can choose to view with either cynicism, or as a result of great effort to be the best, most empathic communicator in your industry.

We are at a stage of technological evolution where the landscape of social media communications between businesses and consumers is changing. The rising use of augmented and virtual reality, and – in some cases – artificial intelligence, will begin to alter the ways in which brands engage with their audience. It has, therefore, never been more important to study these changes and respond in a way that pushes your brand into the new era ahead of the competition.

Brand Communication on Social Media: Video Content

A 2016 survey conducted by social media scheduling platform, Buffer, found that the most popular reason for using social media among brands surveyed was brand awareness (85%), followed by community engagement (71%).

In terms of social media platforms, Facebook is the leading platform for marketers with 93% saying their business is actively using it. Twitter was close behind with 89% of respondents saying they use the platform for their business.

Although it is less dominant than Facebook and Twitter, Instagram, with its visual layout and video capabilities, is key for marketers, particularly in Property, though it lacks the future-thinking technological aspects we’re focusing on here. Nonetheless, figuring out the Instagram Stories feature represents an excellent way to profile properties being marketed.

If there were no obstacles (time, resources, budget), 83% of marketers said they’d create more video content. Interestingly, live video was third with 42% of marketers choosing this option. It is even more important for marketers to engage with video content than these figures show, with video (and the subsequent VR/AR iterations that are coming up) widely being recognised as being the most up-and-coming marketing format for upcoming years.

Brand Communication on Social Media: Virtual Walkthroughs

CGI virtual walkthroughs are an ideal way to engage users on social media to boost brand awareness. Virtual walkthrough videos are also a great way to show off your early uptake of virtual reality technology in your property marketing.

30 percent of marketers are looking to spend more time focused on Facebook video in 2017, with 28 percent also looking to add YouTube to their marketing stack.

Few people will be putting on headsets to engage with fully immersive VR from their own devices. We do encourage you to use tethered virtual reality in your marketing suite or offices to conduct virtual property walkthroughs, nonetheless, it is important to note that VR is coming to the domestic space, albeit at an incremental pace. You should be positioning yourself ahead of the crowd now, however, as one of the first agents to allow virtual walkthroughs, in the scaled-down way facilitated by 360 video.

By creating 360 video walkthroughs that can be uploaded to your social media profiles (particularly Facebook), and making these compatible with smartphone-enabled VR headsets, you allow househunters to view properties in VR at home. You can even send out basic Cardboard VR headsets, which work with smartphones, to interested buyers. These can, additionally, be tailored to your company’s branding. In short, this is an excellent marketing tool that positions you as a forward-thinking agency.

Brand Communication on Social Media: Chatbots

Whilst the visual technologies offered by virtual reality and augmented reality are powerful marketing tools, both on site and in social media, artificial intelligence technology is playing a major role in how businesses communicate with consumers.

Chatbots offer a way for businesses to streamline the communications process, thus alleviating time spent on early-stage customer queries. A bot can answer basic questions from your website homepage, and now can even be implemented to respond to Messenger queries directly on Facebook.

These bots offer an easy way for people to interact with your business, to arrange viewings, set up an office appointment, or ask a common question. The simple type-text format makes the process of asking a quick question significantly less time-consuming from both sides.

Certain keyword triggers embedded within the bot’s algorithm identify any point in the conversation where it is necessary for the customer to be handed over to a human call handler. Often, it is not obvious at first that the bot the customer is speaking to is not human, and even where it is clear, and has been overtly identified as such by yourselves as the service provider, the process is developed enough to offer a smooth and easy communication.

Receptiveness to bot communication varies from person to person, and across different demographic groups. Equally, however, most people are fairly happy to engage with a bot for the initial part of their query. A recent study found that, of the 18-35 age group, 63% would be happy to speak to a chatbot to get in touch with a business or brand. Jeremy Pounder, futures director at Mindshare, the authors of the study, said in a statement:

“Chatbots have emerged as a new way for brands to engage with customers and we wanted to explore attitudes towards this new technology. Surprisingly consumers are very receptive to AI chat technology, and even trust it over human interaction in certain scenarios.

“This presents a huge opportunity for brands. In order to maintain this positive perception, brands must strike the right balance between the ‘human’ and ‘machine’ experience. Those that do, will be in a position to redefine the consumer experience, not only maintaining consumer trust but driving repeat custom and brand advocacy.”

Brand Communication on Social Media: Influencer Marketing

Savvy brands have recognised the value of putting their products into the hands of popular and active social media influencers. These are people that have a strong following on a specific social platform, and thus exude a sense of influence over other consumers in a brand’s target demographic. The influencer is often approached by a brand with the aim of asking them to show off their product on the influencer’s social profile. Instagram is perhaps the best platform for such influencer marketing, and a popular platform for interior designers and property aficionados.

Again, this may seem like it’s limited to retail, but this is not the case. The property industry can also benefit from influencer marketing, and – to look ahead to the future of communications via social media – particularly through the use of augmented reality, 360 video, and live streaming.

Facebook and YouTube now support 360 video, and are making no secret of it. This is solid proof, if any were needed, that the virtual revolution is clearly on its way; it’s a dead certainty that other social media platforms will soon be following suit. And whilst people are still slowly getting on board with the idea of using a VR headset, 360 video offers a fantastic introduction to this more immersive world, ahead of mass VR headset adoption.

360 video offers incredible opportunities for beginning to offer future-thinking, visual and immersive social media marketing to your customers. It requires far less input than a full virtual walkthrough, although should be considered a supplementary, base-level tool to encourage further engagement with your more sophisticated virtual reality walkthroughs as an early stage of the conversion process.

Augmented reality is in its early adoption phase, but will be an absolute game-changer in the property industry, offering huge scope to collaborate with furniture, design, and textile brands (for example), and offer an exciting way for viewers to engage with their prospective new homes.

By way of an introduction to the ways that we can use augmented reality to market property, we encourage you to take a look at the recent content we have created that covers this topic. You can also take a look at part one of this series of three, as well as our other related articles and whitepaper.

If you would like to learn more about the sectors within the Property industry that will benefit most from these technologies, and the ways in which this will happen, then be sure to download our whitepaper ‘How Virtual and Augmented Reality Will Revolutionise House Building and Property Marketing’.

Download our Whitepaper Revolutionary Tech – How Virtual and Augmented Reality Will Revolutionise House Building and Property Marketing:

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