Can social media add real value to your business?
There’s no point jumping on the social media band-wagon without understanding what social media can do for your business and how it can add tangible value. Niklas de Besche, Executive Director of Meltwater Buzz, part of Meltwater Group discusses cutting through the hype to make social media work for you.
Let’s not get caught up with buzzwords. This is simple. If your clients are important to you then social media is important to you. Because those are your clients speaking to you, direct.
The channels now available to us, via social media, provide an undiluted form of market intelligence. We, as business people and marketers, have instant access to the hearts and minds of the people who use our services, globally, in real time, seven days a week. Converting all this interaction into real results is the challenge facing all businesses today.
To create real value from this interaction you need to go beyond the hype of engagement to the simple reality of what social media is about. It’s about understanding what your customers want.
And to understand what your customers want you need to listen and analyse long before you engage.
Defining this listening stage is your companies’ ability to focus and cut through volumes of cyber-babble in order to retrieve and document what is relevant to you.
One of Meltwater’s UK clients is one of the world’s foremost providers of healthcare IT systems. This company had become increasingly interested in the growing power of social media as a sales and communications tool.
As part of an 18 month journey toward developing a social media policy, this business is using Meltwater Buzz to achieve a mixture of both overall strategic results and more granular engagement. As an example the client’s User Engagement Marketing Manager, cites having identified one customer who was a major advocate of theirs but felt they hadn’t enjoyed sufficient support after purchasing a solution from the company. Meltwater Buzz not only helped identify this customer, but also to calculate their influences and interests, helping make it possible to reengage with them via a customer event.
Meltwater Buzz is also being used as an internal education and engagement tool, helping to demonstrate the impact of Tweets, posts and comments within the client’s circle of influencers.
Listening grants you insight. Analysis is the next defining step.
Systematically your social media team, whether that is one person from your marketing or PR division or dozens of specifically hired staff, should be analysing the information they receive and funneling this cyber chatter – the client’s feedback, and in many cases the clients themselves – directly to the appropriate departments of your business.
Understanding the importance of your online presence and the value your business will derive from strategic online positioning is key, but social media is not the “end of the line” in the flow of your business communications. When a consumer is found tweeting about one of our Meltwater products a designated team member knows instantly how to respond in order to channel the query to the appropriate sector of the business. Potential leads are transferred to sales, issues to customer relationship management, feedback to customer service. There is a consistent flow of interaction because the social media systems have been imbedded into our work processes.
Integrating your social media policy within the infrastructure of your business operations will assist you in analysing and deriving value from your social media interactions.
- - Create and chart workflows to direct client queries, issues and leads to the correct departments within your business, and to monitor responses and resolutions.
- - Set targets to manage the rapid response-times social media savvy clients are increasingly expecting.
- Implement systems or seek resources to navigate and track market, geographic and consumer trends so that the data collected can be used effectively across all departments.
Now you are ready to connect
Engagement is only valuable when it is the culmination of listening and analysis.
Social media teams that engage without really understanding the vital role this interaction plays are at risk of creating negative brand equity. Consumers who utilise social media are, by and large, savvy and can spot shallow marketing techniques. Consequently, businesses more than ever, need to be thoughtful in their approach.
For me, engagement is not the interaction that happens within superficial discussions on Twitter. It’s not about counting fans on Facebook. It’s the handling of the information. It’s turning that information into insight. How that information is managed within your workflow. How a customer complaint is handled. How a lead is identified, the procedures used, the consistency shown. It’s about analysing masses of data to produce intelligence that supports your product offerings and development. That’s engagement. The connections you make. It’s your measured response to your current and potential customers. It’s your reaction to the wealth of information and insight social media offers your business. It’s about integrating the net-conversations into your work processes to generate real definable outcomes.
Social media is not a fad.
So don’t get caught up in all the hype.
Interaction is important to create communities of loyal consumers, but translating that into key objectives that drive your marketing and product development is how you use social media to add value to your bottom line.
If you’re new to social media my advice to you is simple: forget all about the marketing hype of engagement. Start with observing and listening. Analyse what you hear and use it to gain insight into what your customers really want.
Yes, engagement is important—but listening and analysis is critical.