A recent MIT Sloan Management survey of global business executives revealed that a staggering 86% of managers think “social business” strategies and tactics will be vital to their businesses over the next few years. The survey indicated that the areas expected to see the greatest change would be “managing customer relationships” and “innovating for competitive differentiation.”
There is now little argument that social media offers unprecedented access to market data and opportunities to establish competitive differentiation. This is evidenced by the rise of social CRM and talk around “big data” reaching fever-pitch. Moreover the CRM and big data space is still immature, so the full impact of social media communication combined with marketing personalisation is yet to be fully realised.
Many businesses are still grappling with the longer term implications of becoming ‘social’. But others are forging ahead, developing social business strategies which are beginning to redefine the way businesses operate. As a result, best practice principles are starting to become clear. I outline them below.
Attempting to add social media into your communications as an after-thought simply won’t work – and with the pace of change in this area strategic mistakes can be costly.
Social is not an add-on.
Social media platforms have provided companies with new ways of engaging,and surprising their market and stakeholders. The data that can be generated while that engagement is taking place enables qualified leads to be nurtured through a conversion process. This can be a very powerful and effective sales tool. Additionally, marketing may lead the drive when it comes to ‘social’, but a robust holistic strategy will take into consideration all internal and external e-communication channels and techniques across a business. So it is vital to get the big picture of your brand’s digital strategy tied down early. Attempting to add social media into your communications as an after-thought simply won’t work – and with the pace of change in this area strategic mistakes can be costly.
Find and distribute amazing content.
The core of any social media strategy is the content strategy. Great social media content is unique and should invite the viewer to engage. Focus on the quality of what you create before addressing the frequency. Invest time in understanding your market and what they are interested in, then plan your content around that information.
Make data real-time and accessible.
Activity in the social media space can create huge volumes of data. From a strategic perceptive it is useful to be able to identify long term trends in this data and develop deep insights into your consumers and market. But if you want your staff to take action they need to be able to see the information that it relevant to their job in as near to real time as possible. You may need to combine various forms of data together, and presenting this in an engaging visual way can be very effective. Fortunately, companies like GoodData are specialising in making this approach accessible.
Develop a social culture.
Probably the most important factor for success is to develop a culture that embraces social media and digital innovation. Embrace collaboration and interaction. Look for stars in your organisation and encourage the “digital natives” to spend time teaching those who are less comfortable communicating online. Reinforce this message by ensuring that the execs at the top of the organisation actively participate in fostering this culture too.
In today’s world it is essential to get a well formed social media strategy in place – as confirmed by 86% of participants in the MIT Sloan Management survey. If you spend time focusing on best practice learning’s, and ensure metrics are aligned with broader business objectives, not only will you start the journey to “managing customer relationships” and “innovating for competitive differentiation”, but you’ll also sure to see a return on that effort.