Many brands bare still struggling to understand the value of social; how to get it into the business, who owns it and how to achieve integration inside and outside of the company.
It too easily becomes a lone silo of the marketing department, with the wider business unaware or unable to access the wealth of customer insight and knowledge being pulled in from their external communities.
With social media touching on everything a company does, not just marketing, it makes sense that it should be integrated into the wider business, but how can we make this happen?
Integrating social into the wider business
I listened in on a panel discussion at TMF&A in the hope of uncovering the secrets of ownership and integration, however much of the focus of the discussion centred more on the struggle many are still facing to even get social through the door in the first place.
Many of the panellists talked about the fear of social media and how organisations are running scared of not only what their customers might say about them, but also about employees and colleagues going rogue once they’ve been let loose.
Panellist Kestrel Lemen, Marketing Strategist, Bronto Europe made the point that “if you can engage with people who are vocal about being unhappy and you can make them happy, they’ll be an instant brand advocate for you. It’s about making lemonade from lemons”.
On the side of employees, moderator Lynsey Sweales, CEO, SocialB was clear in her opinion that if businesses are letting people pick up the phone, send email and meet clients, then it’s not such a big leap to being comfortable around them using social media. But it is essential that the business has a clearly communicated strategy, run training, and has set boundaries of expectation around behaviour.
Social doesn’t exist in a bubble
Another major theme up for discussion was around integration with existing marketing programmes and how social shouldn’t be treated as a bubble. The panel felt that social needs to be better aligned with email campaigns so that not only do you raise awareness of your branded social channels to your database, but that you’re also sending out a consistent message across all of your customer touch points.
And this consistency needs to be applied to way we communicate with customers on an individual basis as well.
Julie Atherton, Strategy Director, Indicia talked about how “as a customer I expect companies to know quite a lot about me. We need to be aware that when we ask people for their identity, people expect us to remember that and use it in some way.” And why CRM systems, as David Beard, Sage CRM Principle, Sage UK stated, are important as they are needed to underpin this knowledge and make it actionable.
Strategy is key
For companies who are embarking on their social journey, whether they’re just getting it through the door or are further on down the line, the advice from the panel was clear: Have a strategy, go to the social platforms where your communities are, train and educate your staff, integrate social with your exiting marketing campaigns, and guide your communities back to a conversion on your site so that you can demonstrate that all important business ROI.
For the near future at least, it appears that social media will continue to be confined to its marketing silo in the majority of companies until systems, processes and cultures catch-up with the benefits that this digital connectivity can offer the wider business.