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2016 Trend: Social Media and Automation Will Combine in New Ways to Improve the Customer Journey

by: Amber Armstrong (@ambarmstrong)
18 December 2015

Customers will remain in control of their purchase journeys in 2016, and social media will continue to be intertwined in these customers’ personal and professional lives. The way marketers interact with contacts on social will need to evolve, though, to deliver the types of engaging experiences today’s social users want.

To better meet customers’ needs, marketers will need to incorporate more sophisticated tools into their overall social media efforts, creating more personalized experiences for each individual, on a mass scale. Here are two areas of social that leading marketers will want to pay close attention to in 2016:

Social Media Advertising

Social media ads provide one of the best opportunities to personalize customer engagement. The big networks, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, offer a variety of advertising options. Effectively using these channels provides an additional touch point for both prospective and current customers to engage with your company.

Advancements in digital marketing technology continue to break down the silos between marketing channels, and social media is no exception. Marketers can increasingly incorporate data collected from other channels into their social marketing efforts. For example, if a prospective customer explores your website and visits the demo form or a product page, but doesn’t complete the action, a pixel on the page allows you to retarget that individual in a tweet or Facebook post with helpful content related to exactly where that person is in the buyer journey.

Alternately, for customers who have been loyal to your brand over time, you can offer special deals and promotions as a “thank you.” For example, a sporting goods retailer could deliver a targeted tweet or Facebook ad to a repeat customer who is due for a new pair of running shoes. Integrating paid social campaigns with your digital marketing platform allows the two systems to pass information back and forth, giving customers those personalized interactions they crave, while simultaneously increasing engagement, loyalty and marketing ROI.

Organic Social Media

The advancements in paid social media do not bring an end to organic social efforts, however. In 2016, leading companies will double down on creating branded social channels that serve as an online home — an inviting place for customers and prospects to learn more about your brand and what you offer.

Your social “home” should have interesting books on the coffee table (enticing content or offers), a host that’s always ready to make the guest feel comfortable (active moderators and page managers) and — in the best situations — other guests that make the home even more valuable (an engaged community of fans). 

Next Steps for Success

As you’re looking to ramp up your social efforts in the New Year, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1) Listen – Seek a deeper understanding of customers by “listening” to new data sources all around you, starting with social media but also mobile apps, weather, supply chain and more. 

2) Analyze – Data alone is only part of the story. Combining data and then using it to drive individualized interactions is how you create the real magic of personalizing customer engagement.

3) Support – Provide value to your customers across social channels, serving up content and fostering interactions that help them wherever they are in their customer journey.

Brands that succeed in 2016 will not only provide relevant, worthwhile content on social media, but also engage with their followers in a personal way. Through both organic and paid efforts, leading marketers will share valuable, personalized information at exactly the right moment.

For more on the top digital marketing trends of 2016, please check out our white paper, “10 Key Marketing Trends for 2016 and Ideas for Delivering Exceptional Customer Experiences.”

Related Resources:

1) Tip Sheet: “10 Tips for Driving Engagement Using Email + Social

2) Blog: “4 Steps to Effective Social Media Measurement and Attribution

3) White Paper: “Ultimate Guide to Assessing Your Digital Marketing Program


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