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Why All Departments Must Engage on Social Media

For a business to become truly socially enabled, social media listening techniques need to be implemented across your entire enterprise. The marketing department may well be listening to the market and tracking sentiment already, but the same skills and techniques can be applied by every department including (but not limited to!):

  • Product development.
  • Customer services.
  • Account management.
  • Partner management.
  • Business operations and supply chain.
  • Sales.

For a truly rounded view of the market, listening should tap into:

  • The social channels that are open to you.
  • ‘Employee advocates’, or social media enthusiasts throughout every business unit who can give their unique view on what customers are saying to their department (and encourage social media engagement throughout the business).
  • ‘Partner advocates’, such as resellers and consultants, who can provide additional customer and marketplace sentiment information that is otherwise unavailable to you directly.

Although every department has its role to play in the socially-enabled enterprise, I have chosen three departments to demonstrate how social listening can be applied immediately.


Socially Enabled Product Development – the Challenges

Obtaining feedback for new product development often relies on time-consuming and costly customer focus groups. Undoubtedly this feedback is useful, but:

  • It is limited to a small number of clients, so feedback may not be as broad-based as required.
  • Potential clients/new markets may be not represented as needed.
  • The data gathered doesn’t always reflect real-time sentiment.
  • At least some of the sentiment data collected will be unsuitable for serious product development purposes.

As such, new developments will often be created based on a limited data set. By adding social media listening tools to the product development workflow, these issues can be reduced. Businesses with improved collaboration report a faster time to market for new products and services, too.

Of course, Product Development is often a very conservative department - with good reason. If the team is wary of the risks involved with using social networks, explain that social media listening is just another channel - not necessarily the only source of customer information.


Socially Enabled Sales – the Challenges

Just as marketing relies on a good understanding of the market, the sales team relies on a good understanding of the customer and their current position in the buying journey. Obtaining this information can be difficult if:

  • Marketing and sales systems remain independent of each other, making information sharing between departments more difficult.
  • Communication between marketing, sales and customer services is disconnected, causing information to be missed or lost.
  • Account managers are unable to track and act upon existing customer sentiment.

Again, a lack of accurate and timely information could lead to sales opportunities being missed.


Socially Enabled Customer Services – the Challenges

Your customers are already active on social media and most would like to use these channels to talk about your business when facing problems. Often, clients will direct compliments or criticisms about your company to their peers without ever involving you directly, denying you the chance to respond.

“Nearly 15% of organizations don’t know what percentage of requests originate in the social sphere as they aren’t programmatically monitoring or engaging in support conversations on social.”

Social Media and Customer Service: From Listening to Engagement - Aberdeen Group

81% of businesses believe that delivering a great customer experience today requires leveraging social media effectively.


Oracle research

Without some form of social media management software to track customer sentiment and comments, chances to demonstrate outstanding service will also be missed. Great customer service delivered via social media provides another avenue by which to improve brand sentiment.


What are our Customers Saying?

Social media has created an open platform for customers to broadcast their opinions on any topic, including your brand. However, going beyond your headline products and services, your customers are also talking about:

  • Your customer service provisions.
  • Your brand image.
  • Perceived failures or successes of your business.
  • What influencers within your industry are saying.

If this information can be filtered correctly, the added insight can then be applied to improve business operations and customer satisfaction levels, or to prepare for new buying trends.


What About our Competitors?

Social media success is built on trust and openness. Social media management software improves your ability to monitor the competition in the social space. You will be able to:

  • See how your competitors are responding to their customers.
  • See what customers are saying about your competition.
  • See what influencers are saying about competing products and services.

This information can then be used to tailor your own products, services and business processes accordingly.


The Fundamental Interconnectedness of all Things

Because the marketing team is taking the social media lead in most projects, they will also need to take a lead with encouraging use of social media throughout the rest of the business, breaking the silos to facilitate better inter-unit communication.


“70% of respondents indicate that social business is an opportunity to fundamentally change the way their organization works.”

MIT Sloan Management Review: 2013 Social Business Global Executive Study and Research Project


So there is a need to set up a company-wide social media strategy to ensure the needs of customers are met at every point they interact with you, and that different teams present a consistent brand. The marketing unit needs to keep the rest of the business informed of their activities and how these may impact on other business units, adjusting workflows to include the additional data and insights. The marketing department may have to take the lead in business transformation to help your company become a truly social enabled enterprise.


Linking it all Together

To become a truly socially enabled business, you will need to:

  • Engage the wider business in social media listening, ensuring that everyone understands not only why it is important, but why it is relevant to them.
  • Choose a social media management software solution that improves interdepartmental communications for the benefit of the business and customers.

Click here to take part in #TheSocialInfluencer survey 2014 to discover just how socially enabled your business really is.