For most businesses and customers, social media is coming their primary channel of communication and a catalyst for building relationships with each other. Public social profiles, messages, and advertisements allow you to reach a large audience, but private, personal experiences with businesses are good for customer loyalty.

Starting today, Sprout Social will expand the Messenger API on Instagram to customers in stages over the coming months. This new feature allows companies to more effectively manage online customer conversations and provide a more engaging, unified customer experience.

Martha O’Byrne-O’Reilly, director of Facebook communications developer partnerships, shares Sprout’s passion for corporate communications as a way for brands to build unbreakable relationships with customers. We recently sat down with O’Byrne-O’Reilly to discuss ways companies can use social communications to take their business to a new level.

What role does social communication play in the customer experience?

MOO: When we think of ways to interact with companies, the communication methods available are everywhere on the map. You may sign up for text alerts to get a discount, order a product online, get a confirmation message, but then you will need to call the service number to get customer support. The customer experience is very fragmented.

Twilio commissioned the study and discovered it only two out of ten people In the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, businesses thought they were communicating effectively with their customers. Today, people have lost their tolerance to friction in any form. They want to participate in their own time and the channel of their choice, which is more and more social communication.

Social communication is convenient, easy and effective for both customers and companies. Therefore, more than 3.1 billion people and 180 million businesses, From Fortune 500 companies to independent cafes, use our suite of apps to communicate with each other on a monthly basis – the numbers have almost doubled in recent years.

What other factors have influenced the transition to social communication?

MOO: 2020 was a challenging year, but at the same time it was a year of accelerated digital change. While everyone around the world protected themselves on the spot, people trusted the message to stay connected with friends, loved ones and businesses. During the peak of the pandemic, daily conversations on Facebook apps increased by more than 50%and voice and video calls on Messenger and Whatsapp doubled.

For the first time, small and medium-sized businesses are introducing communication instead of personal interaction to display and sell their products. We also see larger corporate companies investing in communications as stores progress digitally or call centers move away and the number of customer support requests increases.

However, communication is not a fleeting trend. It’s here to stay, especially as usage cases extend beyond personal communications and customer service.

Martha O’Byrne-O’Reilly

Head of Communications Developer Partnerships on Facebook

How do you envision the future state of social communication?

MOO: Communication can support the customer’s entire journey with the company. In a survey conducted in several markets worldwide, we found it 81% of people use communication ask about products, 78% get support and 74% shop or make appointments.

Sometimes the most changing changes occur when two trends collide, forming something powerful and new. Looking ahead, communication overgrowth combined digital commerce creates a new wave chat shop.

We consider a chat shop to use chat or voice assistance to promote the purchase of goods and services. It includes all the reasons people use to chat with companies, store opening hours for inquiries, booking appointments, tracking deliveries, and resolving issues. And it happens in all places where people spend time online, which is mainly social and communication platforms.

Companies with a social communications strategy – ready to continually meet the needs of their customers at the moment – will be able to see a strong return in the chat business.

How can companies effectively use messages to create a seamless customer experience?

MOO: A Facebook study found that more than 66% are more likely to buy a company they can contact through messages, which is why we are committed to giving brands more ways to provide an asynchronous, productive customer experience.

As a consumer, I used the Messenger experience of the well-known athleisure brand on Instagram in my shopping, and it felt like I would get a personal Shopper from the comfort of my couch. Someone asked me questions about my preferences, introduced new options based on my feedback, and personally kept the private conversation going.

Empowering companies of all sizes to provide such an efficient, customized service is why we are so excited to launch Messenger API in Sprout.

As different parts of the organization, from sales to customer service, become more involved in social communication, integrating an API into a social media management system like Sprout will help keep workflows in order, improves response times and opens up opportunities to customize conversations.

All great relationships start with a conversation

It doesn’t matter where the conversation starts, whether it’s through Instagram DM: t, Story Answers, In-Store Surveys or Mentions, companies can get a comprehensive picture of the customer and their interaction on the Sprout platform.

This feature adds to the already robust integration of the Sprout platform with Instagram, including features that make it easier for brands to manage Instagram DM files, reporting and analysis. We are confident that this new solution will help brands leverage communications as a true hub for building customer relationships and increasing sales.

This is just the beginning. Together, Sprout Social and Facebook look forward to new opportunities that arise as our customers continue to see communication differently.

Leverage the full potential of Instagram for brands by integrating communication into your overall strategy. Download this guide get the best practices, engagement ideas, and other principles needed to create an effective Instagram strategy.

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