Not long ago we blogged about the proliferation of mobile devices being used by the next generation of consumers to access the new Internet and its impact on financial services. This was the topic of a recent webinar and accompanying white paper from Forrester Research, and it’s a growing concern for all businesses – how to create safe, effective marketing programs using the latest social media platforms that drive business in a measureable way.
I recently chatted with Erin Traudt, Research Director at IDC and their resident guru on all things social (Michael Fauscette , you’ll have to forgive me, I’m not lessening your guruness with that comment ) , about the marketing capabilities we recently introduced in Socialite Engage. Erin pointed us to two public Insight reports on the IDC web site that define a new kind of Social Business Framework:
“The democratization and socialization of media through the social web has turned anyone into a publisher, reporter and/or critic – subsequently redefining influence. The social customer, employee, supplier and partner each have a voice and the means to use that voice at scale. And people are listening.”
IDC’s definition of social business is companies using emerging technologies (like Web 2.0 and social media) to make cultural and organizational changes to drive business. According to the IDC report, “Social Business Framework: Using People as a Platform to Enable Transformation,” there are four steps to implementing a social business:
- Identify the market factors driving the need for change to social business. Market factors can include such things as competition, brand awareness, customer behavior, and the economy,
- Recognize social objectives you want to accomplish and why they matter. Social objectives are linked to business goals and include such elements as customer engagement, employee empowerment, partner enablement, and supplier engagement.
- Establish social outputs to support those social objectives. These are the mechanisms you use to share, such as tweets and Facebook posts. Content creation democratizes the process so customers and partners can join the conversation, and you have to consider your community as part of social output, i.e. those individuals who are connected in some way, ideally around your brand.
- Determine the platforms and applications you need to achieve your desired social outputs. These are the software tools that you need to build, deploy, and manage social applications, such as Jive, Lotus Connections, and Facebook, and, of course, tools like Socialite Engage.
As part of your social business strategy, you need to adopt business tools that measure the impact of social output and social media platforms. According to the IDC Insight report Determining the Value of Social Business ROI: Myths Facts and Potentially High Returns, most organizations don’t even know how to calculate ROI for traditional projects, let alone for social business. Identifying metrics to monitor social media engagement allows companies to optimize customer acquisition, decrease customer churn, and create upsell and cross sell opportunities. But to do that, you need to be able to gain control of your social media program and measure the effectiveness and ROI of social media programs.
According to the latest Social Business Survey from IDC, there are five primary reasons that end users use social media as part of social business:
- Acquire knowledge and ask questions;
- Share knowledge and contribute ideas;
- Communicate with customers;
- Create awareness about company product or service; and
- Communicate with internal colleagues.
As part of your social business strategy, you need to think of the impact your social business program has on your social media audience in terms of:
- Reach: How extensive is your online footprint and are you being effective at building an online following?
- Impact: What part of your online community is active, pay attention to your products and messages, and influencing others?
- Yield: How much revenue or new business can you link to active members of your social media community?
These are all factors we took into consideration in when we designed Socialite Engage. We understand that for certain industries it’s essential to not only promote conversation with preapproved content, but to understand how that content performs in achieving social business goals, and which channels are yielding the desired results.
As a firm, as a business, to gauge the effectiveness of a social business initiative, you have to be able to track aggregated engagement across different social media platforms, determine who your key influencers are, and how those influencers are affecting your bottom line. And that’s what we’ve done with Socialite Engage. We’ve designed the means to identify and track key connections into Socialite Engage, and ways to track their influence. We’ve also built in analytics to determine how those connections are affecting business, which channels and messages are having the greatest impact on sales, lead generation, or whatever initiative you have determined will drive your social business.
Embracing social business isn’t just about improving customer relations and increasing sales, it’s about changing the very DNA of your people and the organization. Developing a social business strategy means empowering your people, your customers, your partners, and your suppliers with new tools that can impact your brand and reputation, as well as your bottom line. As a result, you need new tools to monitor the conversations and measure their impact. That’s what our next generation of social business engagement tools is all about.
Follow my experiences in beta testing Socialite Engage – as I endeavor to change the social behavior and the results of social collaboration of Actiance team members, partners and customers. You can watch it all here – at blog.actiance.com (or follow us on Twitter @SarahActiance and @Actiance)