We are witnessing a shift towards hyper-digital brand experiences

We are witnessing a shift towards hyper-digital brand experiences

More and more people are shopping on social media for inspiration and real-time customer service. Companies would do well to align their strategy with the new customer requirements. Rich Hungerford, VP of Corporate Development & Strategy at Hootsuite, knows what opportunities and challenges this entails - and explains in an interview how the gap between physical and digital brand experiences can best be closed.

Commerce is increasingly shifting to social and messenger platforms. How do companies now need to gear up to be where their customers are?Rich Hungerford: Social media has become critical to the businesses we work with. On social media, people discover new products, search for reviews, contact customer service, and often buy products as well. Gartner predicts that 80 percent of customer services will abandon native mobile apps in favor of messaging by 2025. More and more brands are realizing that they need to connect with their customers where they are - on social platforms.

"Social channels can be used in an interactive way at every step of the journey"

What are the biggest opportunities here - but also challenges?Hungerford: The way people shop has changed drastically in the last 18 months. Last year, Instagram introduced live shopping, where manufacturers and brands can sell products during an Instagram live broadcast like a modern shopping channel. The success of live streamed shopping with top celebrities has proven that shopping can be both fun and functional. Rather than seeing social as just a part of the marketing mix, marketers are beginning to realize that social channels can be used in an interactive way at every step of the journey, which is incredible value. What's most important to the new generation of shoppers? Hungerford: During the pandemic, we've seen things like watching movies together, live virtual events, and engaging with other people online that we've never seen before. We're seeing people socialize more on TikTok. And overall, more than half a billion new users turned to social media in the last year, accelerated by the pandemic. Consumer expectations of brands have evolved to be first social media present, second responsive, and third hyper-personalized. It is important for brands to recognize this and align their strategies to meet these high expectations.

"Understanding who the audience of each platform is"

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