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Social Media as a Service Differentiator: How to Win Over Customers

In the past two decades, social media has evolved from a simple communication channel into a powerful tool that can distinguish businesses in a competitive market.

Today’s social consumers expect more than just presence and responsiveness. This shift is driving marketers and customer care teams to collaborate, moving from reactive to proactive service. This partnership opens doors to innovative value creation, allowing brands to stand out in unique ways.

As we navigate this dynamic market, we’ll explore how social media can transform businesses’ differentiation strategies and create a lasting impact on customers.

Why businesses should consider doing social media

Social media transcends its initial role as a personal interaction and entertainment platform. It has become a dynamic space where brands can establish unique identities, connect with audiences, and drive business growth. This goes beyond the traditional notions of branding – social media allows businesses to create distinctive personas, inject human-like qualities into their online presence, and foster an emotional connection with their target audience.

Through skillful social media navigation, brands can connect with audiences more personally than ever. This isn’t merely about pushing products or services; it’s about engaging in meaningful conversations, actively listening to feedback, and understanding the intricate nuances of customer preferences. 

Social media enables businesses to create a two-way dialogue, transforming one-time customers into devoted followers and advocates. This engagement doesn’t just stop at acquisition; it actively contributes to customer retention, nurturing enduring relationships beyond the initial transaction.

With strategic and authentic engagement, brands can tap into previously unfamiliar markets, take advantage of the power of viral sharing, and drive conversions. The ability to reach a global audience at the touch of a button empowers businesses to expand their reach far beyond geographic boundaries, opening doors to new opportunities for expansion and revenue generation.

In essence, social media has evolved into a pivotal playground for businesses to showcase their products and weave narratives, build communities, and establish themselves as industry thought leaders. This transformation has ushered in an era where a brand’s social media presence is an indispensable component of its overall identity, a powerful tool for audience engagement, and a driving force behind sustainable business growth.

Defining social media as a business differentiator

As a business differentiator, social media refers to the strategic use of social platforms to set a business apart from its competitors. It involves leveraging these platforms to establish a unique brand identity, connect with target audiences on a personal level, and create valuable, ongoing relationships. 

This differentiation on social media contributes to enhanced brand recognition, customer engagement, and long-term growth, ultimately distinguishing the business in a competitive market in a number of ways:

  • Unique brand identities: According to a report by GlobalWebIndex, 64% of consumers say they follow brands on social channels to learn about new products and services, showcasing the platform’s role in building brand identities.

    But it’s not just about branding anymore; social media allows businesses to create distinct personalities online. They can inject human-like qualities into their online presence and build emotional connections with their audience.
  • Personal connection: Skilled social media use allows brands to connect with their audience more personally than ever before. In a survey conducted by Khronos, 83% of customers said they like when brands respond to questions, comments, or concerns on social media. This highlights the importance of meaningful conversations, listening to feedback, and understanding what customers really want.
  • Two-way dialogue: Brands can turn one-time customers into loyal fans by engaging in ongoing conversations. This engagement doesn’t stop after the first purchase; it fosters enduring relationships and customer retention. HubSpot reports that 71% of consumers who have had a positive experience with a brand on social media are likely to recommend it to their friends and family.
  • Global reach: With social media, businesses can reach a global audience instantly. Data from Statista reveals that as of 2023, there are 4.89 billion social media users worldwide, which is approximately half of the world’s population. This immense user base represents a vast global audience that businesses can tap into. – 
  • Showcasing products and stories: 43% of social media users follow brands to see new products or services. This statistic underscores the pivotal role of social media in product promotion and the eagerness of users to discover what else brands have to offer.

Strategic benefits of integrating social media into business models

Strategically incorporating social media can offer businesses a wide range of specific benefits. These strategic advantages have the potential to significantly influence a brand’s path and its position within the market. Let’s delve into the specific benefits that await businesses ready to harness the power of social media:

  • Enhanced customer loyalty: Through active engagement and personalized interactions, social media fosters customers’ sense of community and belonging. This deepens brand loyalty and transforms satisfied customers into vocal advocates.
  • Increased website traffic: Well-crafted social media campaigns can drive significant traffic to your website, expanding your digital footprint and exposing your offerings to a wider audience.
  • Valuable data insights: Social media analytics offer real-time and detailed insights into customer behavior, preferences, and trends. This data becomes a goldmine for refining marketing campaigns and strategies, as well as making informed business decisions.
  • Brand authority and thought leadership: Consistent and insightful content sharing positions businesses as industry experts, building credibility and trust among their audience.
  • Direct communication channel: Social media platforms provide a direct line of communication between businesses and customers, facilitating quick responses to queries, concerns, and feedback.
  • Cost-effective marketing: Unlike traditional advertising, social media campaigns often offer a more cost-effective approach to reaching a larger audience, especially with targeted ads.
  • Diversified audience reach: Social media enables businesses to tap into diverse demographics and geographic regions, breaking down barriers and expanding market reach.
  • Competitor insights: Monitoring competitor activities on social media provides valuable insights into their strategies and allows businesses to adapt and innovate.
  • Crisis management: Social media serves as a real-time crisis management tool, allowing businesses to address and manage unfavorable situations swiftly.
  • Innovation and co-creation: Engaging customers in discussions and polls on social media can lead to valuable insights for new product development and improvement.

Integrating social media into business models isn’t just about staying current; it’s about unleashing a spectrum of strategic advantages that can reshape customer relationships, operational efficiency, and market dominance. 

By weaving social media into the fabric of their operations, businesses position themselves at the forefront of innovation, customer engagement, and sustainable growth.

The pivotal role of social media in setting businesses apart

Nowadays, the ability to distinguish oneself from the crowd is not just an advantage – it’s a necessity. Social media emerges as a game-changing tool that empowers businesses to carve their distinctive identity, tell captivating narratives, and forge meaningful bonds with their audience.

Let’s dive into how social media can have a significant impact on setting businesses apart. We’ll back this up with some interesting real-life examples.

1. Authentic brand storytelling

Social media platforms enable businesses to share authentic stories that resonate with their values and mission.

Brands like Nike use social media to tell inspiring stories about athletes and social causes, connecting deeply with their audience beyond just products.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Nike (@nike)

2. Personalized customer engagement

Businesses can use social media to engage with customers on a personal level, making them feel heard and valued. Wendy’s stands out with its witty and engaging responses to customer queries, creating a unique and relatable brand personality.

@wendys you definitely say awesomesauce #nationalroastday@reiddiculous ♬ original sound – Wendy’s

3. Visual identity and creativity

Platforms like Instagram allow businesses to showcase their visual identity and creativity. To stand out in the beauty industry, Maybelline used Instagram to launch its Sky High Mascara Express campaign with a social media video promoting its mascara in the most interesting way. The video showed a train on the London tube fitted with huge fake “lashes”.


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A post shared by Maybelline New York (@maybelline)

4. Thought leadership and expertise

Social media is a prime avenue for showcasing industry expertise and thought leadership. HubSpot regularly shares valuable marketing insights, positioning itself as a trusted authority in its field.

5. Interactive campaigns

Businesses can launch interactive campaigns that involve their audience, creating a sense of involvement. Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign encouraged customers to find bottles with their names, leading to a significant buzz and engagement.

6. Timely and relevant content

Staying current and relevant is crucial for setting a business apart. During the 2013 Super Bowl blackout, Oreo seized the moment with a witty tweet, showcasing their agility and creativity.

7. Social advocacy

Encouraging user-generated content and leveraging brand advocates can establish a sense of community around the brand. Undoubtedly, Apple has crafted a beloved brand that people eagerly share, a sentiment they cleverly tapped into with their Shot on iPhone challenge.

They’ve urged iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max users to share their photos on social media using #ShotOniPhone. Winning photos adorned Apple’s online, print, and billboard spaces.

Instagram grid layout with Shot on Iphone photographs from iPhone users

8. Customer testimonials and social proof

Sharing positive customer testimonials and reviews on social media builds credibility and trust. Airbnb frequently shares heartwarming stories from hosts and guests, reinforcing their brand’s hospitality.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Airbnb (@airbnb)

9. Exclusive offers and promotions

Offering exclusive discounts or promotions through social media can attract and retain customers. Amazon Prime Day has become an annual shopping event, drawing massive attention and sales.

10. CSR initiatives

Social media is a potent tool for highlighting corporate social responsibility efforts. Patagonia effectively uses social media to showcase their environmental initiatives and activism.

How to win over customers with unique social media strategies

Businesses today face heightened expectations to maintain an active and responsive presence on their customers’ favored social platforms. 

While this challenge might seem overwhelming, a well-devised approach, effective organizational setup, and streamlined processes can pave the way. 

As exemplified by numerous industry leaders, empowered resolution teams can enable companies to leverage social media for fostering favorable brand interactions.

Winning over customers through social media requires a strategic and customer-centric approach. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to effectively leverage social media to build strong customer relationships and drive business growth:

  1. Understand your audience: Conduct thorough market research to uncover insights about your target audience. Explore their demographics, preferences, online behaviors, and pain points. This understanding will guide your content creation and engagement strategies.
  2. Craft compelling content: Develop a content plan that aligns with your audience’s interests and needs. Create a mix of content types, including informative blog posts, visually appealing images, educational videos, and interactive polls. Make your content shareable and relatable.
  3. Have consistent branding: Maintain a consistent brand identity across all social media platforms. Use the same profile picture, cover photo, and brand colors to ensure instant recognition. Align response time, communication style, and engagement with platform traits. Your brand’s tone and voice should also remain consistent in all interactions.
  4. Engage actively: Respond promptly to comments, messages, and mentions. Engage in conversations, answer questions, and express gratitude for positive feedback. Encourage conversations by asking open-ended questions and using relevant hashtags.
  5. Tell stories: Share compelling stories that showcase your brand’s values, mission, and impact. Use storytelling to create an emotional connection with your audience. Highlight customer testimonials, success stories, and employee experiences.
  6. Offer value: Provide valuable, actionable information addressing your audience’s pain points. Share industry insights, tips, tutorials, and guides. When your audience sees you as a source of valuable information, they are more likely to engage and trust your brand.
  7. Incorporate user-generated content: Encourage customers to create content related to your brand. Repost user-generated content on your profile to show appreciation and build a sense of community. User-generated content acts as social proof and can influence others to engage with your brand.
  8. Run contests and giveaways: Organize contests or giveaways that require user participation. This can involve sharing their own content, tagging friends, or using a specific hashtag. Contests not only drive engagement but also create excitement around your brand.
  9. Use influencer marketing: Collaborate with influencers who share your brand’s target audience. Influencer marketing can provide authentic endorsements and widen your reach. By collaborating with influencers whose values align with your brand, you can tap into their established follower base, gaining access to a highly engaged and relevant audience.
  10. Monitor analytics: Regularly analyze your social media metrics to understand which content performs well and resonates with your audience. Track metrics like engagement rate, reach, click-through rates, and conversion rates. Use this data to refine your strategy over time.
  11. Exceptional customer service: Address customer queries and concerns promptly and professionally. Use social media as a channel for effective customer support. A positive interaction on social media can enhance a customer’s perception of your brand.
  12. Adapt and innovate: Stay updated on emerging social media trends and platforms. Experiment with new features like Stories, Reels, or live videos. Continuously adapt your strategy to stay relevant and engage with your audience in fresh and creative ways.
  13. Use cutting-edge technology: Incorporate suitable supporting technology throughout the entire servicing journey, including AI integration, to automate tasks like filtering high-priority or sensitive posts and monitoring customer feedback.

By carefully following these strategies, businesses can transform their social media presence into a powerful tool for customer engagement, loyalty, and business growth.

It’s equally important to mention that establishing the right supporting organizational structure becomes crucial. Social media servicing teams are typically housed within either marketing or customer service departments. However, successful examples often reveal that a combined response-and-resolution team tends to yield the best outcomes. 

Though coordinating dual reporting lines might pose challenges, the benefits of unified ownership, accountability for customer issues, a uniform messaging style, and collaborative working often enhance the overall customer experience.

Regardless of the chosen structure and reporting lines, empowering frontline teams to exercise judgment and make exceptions when necessary is vital. These teams should have direct access to relevant business functions to expedite and prioritize solutions. Specialized teams can be trained to handle influencers and sensitive posts, thereby minimizing the risk of individual customer complaints causing reputational harm.

Wrap up

By crafting compelling narratives, leveraging influencer endorsements, and fostering genuine interactions, businesses can win customers and establish lasting connections that drive brand growth. 

Through strategic integration and adept handling, social media becomes a powerful channel not only to attract but also to retain and delight customers, creating a holistic and rewarding experience that sets businesses on a path to success.

Ioana Sima

Ioana Sima

Marketing manager for TextMagic and Touchpoint. I like figuring out how things work. Passionate about fitness, analytics, video games, and cosplay.

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