Social media represents an enormous opportunity for unfiltered, direct consumer insights into branding, customer service, and product development. Here are three capabilities for building better online consumer relationships. (An excerpt from a survey published in Strategy+Business by Christopher wollmer and Karen Premo).
Today, two-thirds of responding companies dedicate 5 percent or less of their digital marketing spending to social media. Within three years, however, 56 percent of responding companies expect to spend 10 percent or more of their digital marketing budgets on social media, and 28 percent expect the figure to exceed 20 percent.
Companies aiming to take full advantage of this expanding social media spending need to scale three important capabilities: community management, content development, and real-time analytics. For innovators, these capabilities are most often combined as a mutually reinforcing system operating under the leadership of the marketing function.
Creating a Social Experience
For companies in all sectors, community management, content development, and real-time analytics represent a new way to build direct relationships with consumers — and thus a major opportunity to generate business value.
1. Community management. As companies begin building brands on Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, YouTube channels, Google+ circles, and, most recently, Pinterest boards, they realize quickly that establishing a social media presence is just the beginning. Community management — the art and science of convening and hosting fans in social media across multiple platforms — quickly emerges as a vitally important skill.
This discipline is critical in establishing a social media community that is healthy, active, and growing. Further, once visitors become fans, companies have the responsibility to listen to them and reward their behavior with an “always on” experience.
2. Content development. To build a robust content development capability, companies must often completely reboot their approaches to communications and campaigns. Now brand managers have to think about social [media] in everything they do. Do they have sufficient content they can share with their community?”
Leading social media teams are taking steps to build publisher-like capabilities, competing aggressively for consumers’ attention, engagement, and loyalty with high-value content just as media companies do. Many marketers say they plan to aggressively expand their content development staff.
3. Real-time analytics. Marketers increasingly need real-time insight into their audiences and the impact of their content to know whether their social media efforts are on target. Robust, well-structured analytics and metrics are critical to this understanding.
A real-time capability in social media analytics typically matures through four levels, gaining sophistication with each one. Level One is measuring reach. At this stage, marketers understand the social scale of their brands and know how many fans, followers, subscribers, visitors, and views they have. Level Two is tracking engagement. Marketers move beyond counting to analyze the drivers of participation and amplification in online communities and what kinds of sharable content perform best. Level Three is analyzing advocacy. Here, marketers identify fan behaviors that are associated with brand commitment, relevance, authority, and social capital, such as writing reviews providing recommendations.
Finally, Level Four is calculating the return on investment. The most advanced companies set out to achieve strategic business objectives with their social media analytics. Only about 40 percent of companies have metrics in place today to measure ROI-focused key performance indicators, such as purchase intent, leads generated, conversion rates, or actual sales; in other words, turning “likes” and “fans” into real value.
By developing these distinctive capabilities, companies can not only create rich new social media experiences for their customers but, transform their organizations and unlock market-leading performance.
- Taking Social Media to the Next Level (openforum.com)
- Empower your employees with social media guidelines (thecontentlab.icrossing.com)
- Social Media Grows Up [Research] (heidicohen.com)
- Digital Journalism – How News is Sourced with Social Media (openforum.com)
- #1 Search Engine Optimization Company of New York, NYC SEO Announces Social Media Optimization Services (prweb.com)
- How to drive social media customer service within your company (usefulsocialmedia.com)
- 7 Ways to Save Time on Your Social Media Efforts (openforum.com)
- The value of ‘likes’ in social media (xlntelecom.co.uk)