April 25, 2016

Combine SMS and Social Media to Boost Customer Engagement

“SMS or Social Media?” It’s a question that many digital marketers ask when they are in the planning stages of their acquisition and retention campaigns. One of the reasons this is difficult to answer is because it essentially asks the wrong question. Instead of making a choice between SMS or social media as the platform for their campaigns, digital marketers should be considering how they can leverage SMS to enhance their social engagement.

There is no single entry or exit point for a customer’s journey in a multi-platform world. No matter how the consumer is connecting with a brand, making sure that it’s a process of interaction versus a one-sided conversation will help engage potential customers and allow them to make a personal connection with the brand.

Platform-agnostic promotional campaigns allow everyone to participate, whether they prefer to use text messaging or social media. The following examples show how clients can create multi-channel campaigns that leverage the best elements of SMS and social media.

Live Activation

If you have been at a concert, game or other live event, you may have seen photos and messages from other attendees displayed on the arena or stadium’s big screen. This is one example of how Live Activation practices can help to increase audience engagement during large events through a combination of SMS and social media engagement. Text-to-Screen programs create conversations within a venue about what attendees are experiencing and provides an outlet for people unable to attend the event to participate in the conversation and feel connected.

Engaging Potential Customers Across Multiple Channels

SMS can be used to share experiences and enter contests.Clients want to engage their audience regardless of their platform, which makes it critical to develop platform-agnostic campaigns. For example, a radio station might run a “Text-to-Win” contest with the grand prize of a trip to see a major act perform in Las Vegas. The station can promote the contest on Instagram with a photo of the artist that’s overlaid with a text “call to action”.

Giving listeners the ability to enter the contest through multiple outlets – such as posting a keyword as a hashtag on social media and/or texting the same keyword to a dedicated short code – allows listeners to choose how to communicate with the station. This approach also gives the station the ability to collect more data about their listeners, such as determining which communication methods their listeners use.

Another example of this is the ability to reward customers for participating across multiple channels. For example, a Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) might run a promotion where they ask customers to share their favorite meal. By allowing customers to enter multiple times across multiple channels – such as sharing, posting, tweeting, or texting – the restaurant rewards their most engaged patrons. It is highly likely that customers who participate in the promotion are also the biggest fans of the restaurant and should be targeted with coupons and special offers. And because they have signed up via multiple channels, the restaurant can leverage this information and now can reach out to them with the right message on the right channel.

Adding Social Information Within a Text 

Facebook pioneered the concept of Open Graph meta tags in 2010 and it has been adopted as the standard for integrating content from other sites by other social media sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Content such as images, article titles, and body text that is contained within Open Graph meta tags will be shown when the article is shared on a social media site. Using Open Graph meta tags helps content creators retain the integrity of the original content when it is shared and reshared through Facebook, Twitter and other sites. This preserves the full marketing message as it was intended to be delivered without limiting the ability of the content to be shared.

Given the importance of Open Graph meta tags, we recommend integrating SMS messages that increase circulation of your content across the major social channels when shared. mGage’s Social Poster feature allows you to insert an automatically generated shortened URL that, when tapped, gives you the option to post or tweet the message, offer or promotion immediately to your social network of choice. By doing this, you create a physical link that people who receive your SMS message will use to share it with friends through their social media applications. SMS messages can now have the same sharing potential as social media messages and be distributed through a previously inaccessible level of platforms.

These are just a few specific examples of how SMS can be integrated with social media engagement. Many of these involve collecting and aggregating data from current or new users in order to get a more well-rounded view of who they are. Being able to connect users’ mobile numbers to their social media accounts – and understanding how they are using each channel – can help you to tailor your messages to reach specific audience segments effectively.

Below are a few tips for how to make sure your SMS and social media programs are working to support each other.

(Note: make sure that your outreach to other platforms to promote SMS campaigns is done in a compliant manner. For example, you need to make sure that you let your audience know how to properly opt-in and that standard data messaging rates may apply when promoting a Call to Action that involves sending an SMS.)

Leverage Social Media and Email Audiences to Boost SMS Opt-Ins

Your contact lists aren’t just emails addresses or social media handles – they are people who have already said they are interested in your marketing messages. Making them aware through newsletters and social media posts that you are running a text campaign is a simple and free way to increase your SMS opt-ins.

Use Different Keywords to Track Different Channels

A quick and easy way to track channels being used to participate in programs is to create different keywords for each one. For example, a retailer might have customers use JACKETSALE for customers on social media outlets but use SALEJACKETS for people using SMS. Tracking the keyword becomes a simple way to track participation and gauge the effectiveness of different channels.

Consider the Right Content for Your Channel

When someone receives a message, they want to be able to read it quickly. However, there may be additional content that you want them to know about but is otherwise too lengthy for a text. Such content can include a video, audio or large image. Sending out different content to different channels solves this problem. For example, you can post a full-length video to social media sites such as Facebook or Instagram or use the Social Poster feature to send out a shortened version of a video to text users. You can also put a Call to Action at the end of the full-length video telling people to send an SMS to your short code to sign up for texts.

These ideas only scratch the surface of the many ways that businesses are combining SMS and social media to increase customer engagement. Do you have any successful programs you’ve created using SMS and social media? Let us know in the comments below.

The information included herein is distributed for informational use only; it does not constitute legal advice and should not be taken as such.  All clients are responsible for meeting legal requirements and other rules that apply to their messaging programs.  Consultation with legal counsel is strongly recommended.

Jack Ukropina
Jack Ukropina / Administrator

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