Customer engagement is a metric that’s valuable but varies from industry to industry and brand to brand. At Engage 2015 New York, Ekaterina Dobrokhotova, head of customer engagement at L’Oréal Paris Canada, explained how to measure engagement, no matter which company. Also in this candid Q&A—which was first shared on DMN’s Periscope—she predicts what engagement of the future might look like.
How do you and your team at L’Oréal Paris Canada define customer engagement?
So consumer engagement is an interesting department at L’Oréal, and it’s in two parts: There’s a social media one and also the consumer care center. And so engagement is a little bit different in those two areas. On social media we use Socialbakers, and we see interactions as [actions] on the platform—a like, share, comment. Or on Instagram it would be a like and a comment. So really we take it as that. In the consumer care center—where we actually get calls, emails, and social requests—we see engagement as that contact with the consumer. So whenever they reach out to us, they’re engaging with us.
Why is it important for marketers to engage with their current or potential customers?
It’s very important to engage with consumers, and the main reason is because your competitors are doing it. The competition is doing it; media is doing it. There was a little bit of a challenge. [In the past we asked ourselves] “OK, what does it mean to have fans if you don’t have the engagement?” So now we look at [engagement] a lot, especially for Facebook because a lot of our strategy—particularly on Facebook—has been acquiring fans on Facebook.
After that acquisition, what is the value of that fan now if we don’t interact with her organically?
So we are losing that engagement. And a platform like Instagram, where engagement is super high, has been a huge priority for us. And we’re no longer saying, “Let’s acquire fans.” We’re saying, “Let’s get engagement,” and if they’re truly, truly engaged then I think that the last step for them is to become a follower and subscribe and to continue that conversation and to engage daily with us.
Ekaterina Dobrokhotova, head of customer engagement at L’Oréal Paris Canada
How has engagement between brands and customers progressed over the years?
That’s very interesting because at first it was a one-way conversation, OK? So brands would just push a message and then that was it. Consumers didn’t have a say. Now consumers have a lot to say. Not only that, but consumers can create a crisis within your company if something goes wrong. And so that’s why I manage both parts—both the consumer care center and the social media one—because it’s just all connected. You can’t separate them anymore. Social can just blow up. So it’s very, very important to listen to what consumers are saying on social. We have to take their feedback first and then tailor a message based on that conversation.
Does social media make it easier or harder for marketers to measure social media engagement?
It makes it easier, but it all depends on the tools. We do need the right tools to measure this. For instance, I’m in the Canadian market with L’Oréal Paris Canada. And so I don’t want to have the noise of the U.S. or other countries. And that’s really something that I felt in the beginning was the limitation of technology, in the analytics tools and the listing tools. We weren’t able to measure all of the mentions on Facebook—just Twitter. And then technology got better, and we were able to monitor tweets within Canada. So I think that technology is helping us, but technology has to evolve with social media to help us have the right tools so that we can listen to those conversations.
How does the definition of engagement change from brand to brand and industry to industry?
So there are a few changes—even within L’Oréal, we have 35 brands. Some brands are skincare brands, which are struggling a little bit more to get engagement than something like Essie, which is a nail polish brand. It’s a loved brand. If you post a picture of nails, it’s going to get thousands of likes. It’s just a loved brand, and you really cannot compare a skincare brand to a beloved makeup brand. And then there’s industry to industry, like the financial industry to the entertainment industry. There’s a big difference in engagement. I feel like the way that we’re resolving that is to compare engagement of a skincare brand to another skincare brand.
What do you define as engagement of the future?
Wow. In the future I think that engagement is going to be tied with CRM. We will need to be very smart in how we segment people because in the future people will be less tolerant about the content that they receive. Whether it’s on their feeds [or] whether it’s in an email, they want personalized content. They want us to know what they want as content. So it will be a science, and it will be more segmented.
And there will have to be more content formats. It’ll be a little more challenging for brands. That’s why we have to have the tools and the know-how to get there. Definitely, the consumer will still have the last word on that one.