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BizReport : Blogs & Content : December 25, 2018

Expert: How brands can embrace interactive experience to improve engagement

This holiday season has shown that online and mobile shopping is a key factor for spending amongst consumers, but many brands and merchants continue to struggle with online engagement. We asked an expert with The Tylt how brands can get a better grasp on their online customer base.

by Kristina Knight

Kristina: What advice do you have for brands for community building and engagement, especially with younger Gen Z?

Kyle Lelli, General Manager, The Tylt: When The Tylt was founded in 2016, we noticed that people were becoming increasingly frustrated with the level of discourse on the internet and although social media outlets were giving people a platform to express themselves, media organizations didn't seem particularly interested in listening. We wanted to solve that problem and build a platform that places value in the opinions of its audience. Since creating the community two years ago, The Tylt now reaches over 50 million people. The key to community building and engagement is listening.

Gen Y is the last generation to remember life without mobile phones and social media. The younger Gen Z is entering the workforce and has grown up immersed in technology. While each cohort has its own unique characteristics that brands must understand, one commonality is that members of each generation want to feel like individuals. People value being heard. Get to know your audience and after you've listened, respond in a meaningful way. Foster community by connecting members of your audience with others who share their interests. 

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snap are all important platforms offering unique experiences for connecting different people. Gen Y, Millennials and Gen Z will continue to use the platforms that their friends are on and that provide utility for their passions and interests. But no matter what demographic, it's also important to remember that people only have so much time. Facebook will continue to be a dominating and important channel for marketers, but platforms like VSCO, Discord and Twitch will continue to gain traction with younger audiences. Reddit should also be a part of many more marketing plans to attract attention from Gen Z.  
Kristina: How brands can embed interactive experiences online to deepen relationships with their customers/prospects?

Kyle: Digital experiences have given rise to an online subscription economy, but content publishers are only scratching the surface. Publishers must move beyond the entry point of earning subscriptions to fostering audience participation through polls, audio and embedded rich media for storytelling. To get over this threshold, publishers can create a consistent feedback loop to understand and then publish the content their audience truly cares about.  Using opinion gathering tools - like an online poll - helps to generate content ideas that an audience is tied-to emotionally, deepening their personal commitment to a brand.

Chatter will also matter even more next year.  We expect marketers to build points of engagement - like shareable polls and more - directly into their product, service or experience to encourage more impactful social-driven word of mouth. The social web provides ample opportunity for brands to establish connections and grow through traditional word-of-mouth referrals, the "holy grail" of marketing. When people love a brand, product or experience, many of them will rave about it to their friends and family. Others won't share despite loving the brand and require an added incentive to do so. Unfortunately, most marketers don't have social word-of-mouth referral experiences directly built into their product or service. 

Kristina: How does social polling fuel a brand's content engine?

Kyle: Brands create content for their audience, so by natural extension, polling allows brands to better understand and align with their audience's interests. Opinion polling combined with analytics data is a powerful tool for content development. This is not to say that a brand must assuage their audience at every turn, but understanding opinions, interests and passions has the potential to unlock deeper or hidden content opportunities.

Gen Z has grown up on participatory media, where the experience is rarely just passive. Social polling allows brands to tap into the natural tendencies of young audiences who to want to participate, share and develop their opinion over time. Brands can take this a step further by positioning themselves as a sounding board and reflecting the opinion of their audience. This allows brands to create further dialogue with their target market and accurately understand their passions and deeply held beliefs.

Tags: advertising, ecommerce, ecommerce experience, experential marketing, online experience, The Tylt

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