Investing in in-app social features is a must in a world that is crying out to be connected

Francesca Gargaglia, COO & CBO at marketing tech platform Amity looks at why brands are increasingly adding social-features to their own apps.

If the last year has taught us anything it’s that connecting with people is vital to our wellbeing. Whether it is family, friends, or strangers with similar interests, connecting has never been more important to boost morale and engagement between individuals.

Humans are social beings, it is a central part of our DNA to connect and form communities with people around us, even if it’s virtual. Social media apps allow people to meet new acquaintances, widen their network, and reach anyone they share interests with.

Social media has been a game-changer in enabling people to connect. In 2020, nine out of the top ten apps downloaded were social in nature. The likes of Facebook and Twitter have allowed groups of people to share ideas and opinions on every topic from sport, poetry, fine art and everything in between. This has been revolutionary for brands looking to create their own communities online as the platform is ready to use and free. However, customers are demanding more from their social experiences, and an increasing number of brands are now looking to invest time and money to improve this and retain their valued customers.

Moving away from traditional methods

Apart from social media, brands are limited to the ways they can engage digitally with their customers and create social communities. Most consumers want brands to connect with them, so this limitation in methods of engagement is causing brands to look to their own apps to build connections with customers. Taking this initiative can help to reel in new customers, but also retain app users and turn them into brand advocates.

Implementing social features in their own apps also give brands insights they could never have with the big social platforms. For example, what content is most popular, how long users engage with each other for and how many messages are being sent between users. This data can inform a brand’s content strategy and how they market it to their customers. This level of insight is impossible to get from the likes of Facebook.

Without access to this data, it makes it incredibly difficult for brands to understand their audience and develop personalised relationships with each customer. This can affect how customers perceive the brand, cause them to lose interest and move on to a competitor who can offer a better social experience.

Why social features?

Being able to create an enhanced social experience by pivoting their app can allow brands to turn groups of ordinary users into communities and foster diverse and healthy discussions about the brand and its products. By integrating social features into an app, customers can create emotional connections with other users, build their in-app groups to interact with other members, and strengthen loyalty that only returning users can bring to apps.

Software development kits (SDKs) are the way to do this. With SDKs, brands can build a totally customisable experience for their audience and respond to customer demands. These SDKs can be plugged into a brand’s existing app to ensure they don’t have to build all of these features from scratch, and customers can see the commitment the brand has to improving the customer experience.  Brands can add in different SDKs depending on how their customers like to engage with them, whether that is video, chat or social, so it can be totally personalised by each brand and its audience.

Experience trumps everything

Adding social features to an app also improves the customer experience. With the increased engagement in-app experiences generate, customers feel more connected to the brand and in turn have a more positive experience. This is vital when 80% of customers say the experiences provided by a company are as important to them as its products and services. By creating enhanced social experiences, customers get more value from their interactions with brands, and are more likely to return.

By investing in social features and the social experience overall, brands can build trust with their audience. This, combined with user data can revolutionise the social experience customers receive and create an environment that customers want to engage with. After all, 54% of customers will consider leaving a brand if it does not do enough to engage with them.

Why now?

Social media has evolved beyond recognition since its inception and has worked wonders for brands until now. But brands no longer have to depend on the big players in the social space to host communities and discussions. Instead, they can build these communities in their own spaces and have control over the content, data and insights to truly understand their customers.

Brands must act now and focus on engaging their customers to improve the customer experience, boost engagement and stand out from the competition. This is crucial in an increasingly competitive world where many brands are looking to create immersive experiences for their customer. Integrating social features into an app can add a new dimension to how customers connect and give brands a unique perspective into their audience.

By Francesca Gargaglia