Social media is busting out of the marketing department and demanding attention in other parts of the business. While social marketing is still the subject of the most magazine articles, social media can and should be used across public-facing business units, including but not limited to: Marketing, public relations, sales, customer service and support, and human resources.
Becoming a social business requires a strategy, executive focus, and dedicated resources. But in the long run, it is likely to pay off; customers increasingly expect to interact with companies and other customers through social media, at every stage of the customer experience.
Large enterprises have already moved toward the social business concept, and more midsized organizations are certain to follow. On the path to social business, there are stumbling blocks aplenty. Lack of executive buy in may result in inadequate resources. Poor internal collaboration can create social media silos that detract from the customer experience. Plan carefully to increase social success factors in these areas:
Step 1: Align social media goals with corporate objectives
Alignment is essential to realizing any business goal, whether it be between departments, between employees and management, or between strategy and policy. When you have the potential for many employees and an unlimited number of customers to be posting, tweeting, liking, and linking all day, every day, it can be easy to lose track of the bigger picture. Social businesses will need a way to step back, measure, tweak and realign as the journey progresses.
Step 2: Create organizational-wide strategy.
The move from social media marketing to becoming a social business requires a new strategy and executive focus outside of the marketing department. There needs to be top-down leadership that demonstrates to the organization that the social face of the business is an important priority.
Step 3: Create written social media policies.
The social business strategy needs to be actualized through written policy, just as with any important business objective. The business will need a shared vision of which share social media tools will be used across the organization.
Step 4: Decide how to measure success.
It’s important that social media success can be measured and analyzed. That means the social strategy needs to define success and the business policies need to establish the systems and methods for measurement and reporting.
Step 5: Dedicate human capital to social media
Social media champions (usually led by marketing/PR) need to help the company establish brand identities and create rules of usage for each social channel. For ongoing operations, 78% of companies surveyed employed a team of dedicated people for social media. Social media employees can form their own group at the corporate level, with different employees having different areas of operations. Alternately, the social specialists can be dispersed at the division or departmental level but must remain in constant cooperation with counterparts in order to avoid social silos and a disjointed corporate voice.
Step 6: Use a social CRM solution.
Social CRM is already used by 37% of companies surveyed by Altimeter Group. A study by Nucleus Research found that using Social CRM enabled sales teams to be 11.8% more productive. To take advantage of the power of social CRM, you’ll need a system that does more than simply track your customers’ social media usage. Your CRM should be able to help you turn unstructured social data into highly usable information, such as new tasks, leads and opportunities.
Step 7: Train your team on social media rules, messages and best practices.
Take heed! This is an area of risk for most organizations. Altimeter Group found that only one-third of companies had any type of formalized social training program for employees. This is not an area to address on an ad hoc basis. If you want a clear, consistent customer experience through social media, employees must know exactly how to meet business objectives.