Social media is now so prevalent, and so rich with useful information, that businesses cannot ignore the opportunity it presents. But what are those opportunities?
Many organisations have reacted by creating a social media team, directed by a social media strategy, to “handle” all social media. This makes as much sense as having an email team, directed by an email strategy, to handle all emails. Further, “handle” is usually restricted to posting updates and responding to customer comments.
Responsibility for this activity is often handed over to marketing (and perhaps customer services) teams, who push out brand and product images over Facebook, Twitter and the company blog. But there is a need to view this from the customer perspective – within their social media feed of family updates, holiday photos and quirky happenings, these corporate messages can look wholly out of place.
And even this misses many opportunities presented by social media; the relevant insights are far broader than individual departments as customers (and their views) should touch all parts of the business, and so must be properly integrated into corporate and departmental strategy.
Using social to create real, measurable value
- Customer and consumer analytics: find out what people really feel about your products, services, brands and competitors. How do they feel about you? Can they be segmented by needs? Can you replace some traditional panel activity in social media?
- Engagement: note that this is social media not corporate media, so must have a different tone and reflect the personality of the retailer or brand. It is recommended to have a content plan integrated with other media and channels, which presents different types of content; for example, new/seasonal products. This has both integrated campaign content and always-on content
- Launch and campaign support: analytics can help optimise investments made by, for example, adjusting channel spend or the marketing mix according to the measureable effectiveness of channel by getting real-time feedback from social channels about how your message is landing
- Marketing automation: insights allow richer understanding of consumer needs that can be used to optimise marketing technology in both efficiency and effectiveness gains
- Customer service: become a face rather than a corporation to your customers. This can extend to proactive communications, such as to form a community of influencers or advocates in the event of an unplanned opportunity or crisis management
- Product and service development: what do your customers feel about your products? Is your packaging representative of your price point? Do people find it fiddly to use? Social media channels present the opportunity to both listen and engage
- Competitor analysis: in an increasingly competitive and global marketplace, competitors are eating your lunch. Find out why and how!
- HR. With so many people having social media histories, it is easier than ever to check up on who they are and whether they are a good cultural fit – one of the major determinants of whether they stay and become highly contributing employees – for your business
Integrated Social Media
And social media is not just a simple dialogue between business and an individual, it’s a matrix; not only do you have communications backwards and forwards with individuals, they also have communications about you between themselves. Proving differentiated support for influencers and advocates can amplify perceptions and positive behaviours far more effectively than traditional marketing methods.
The key to deriving consistent value from social media is a multidimensional feedback loop that measures success over various social platforms and translates that insight into gains made in multiple functional areas.
Simple measurement of “number of likes” is like measuring “number of emails”. And these measures feed directly back into functional and corporate strategy – not into a “social media” strategy. Measures need to be tied to business value, and analytics used to help inform strategy and measure the resultant activity.
Social media should be integrated with business strategy to increase sales, gain customer (and staff) insights, increase brand affinity, reach influencers and advocates, and improve products and service development. It should be organisation-wide, rather than “owned” by a department or seen as a separate channel. And the benefits should be measured – and optimised – in a systematic, multidimensional, transparent way that informs future strategy.