A recent global study of C-suite executives revealed that 86 percent of managers believe social business will be important to their overall business over the next three years for “managing customer relationships” and “innovating for competitive differentiation.” (MIT Sloan Management 2012 Social Business Global Executive Study).
But how do you actually build an effective social business strategy? At Expion, we’ve been talking to and working with CMOs across a variety of industries and as a result of our discussions we’ve uncovered five “smart” social strategies for brands to leverage today.
1. Scorecard Integration
Social metrics should be aggregated into a balanced scorecard that ties back to the financial and operational goals that the C-suite actually uses to track the success of the business. We’ve found that the three metrics that really matter are reach, engagement and virality. Once you have a critical reach, it’s virality that matters most – the number of fan actions (Likes, Share and Comments) divided by the total number of fans. The goal is to maximize the number of positive actions related to virality.
2. Mine for Amazing Content
You can post and tweet all you want but if customers don’t find the content compelling, it won’t get shared. Social content is NOT the same as your traditional ads or promotions (although it can be linked to this) – it is original, compelling content that is designed to create a strong emotional reaction. What does it look like? To celebrate its 100th anniversary, Oreo posted 100 images over 100 days – with each cookie celebrating a pop culture moment, historical fact or holiday through an visual re-imagining of the Oreo. Charmin toilet paper’s “tweet from the seat” campaign invites people to join the conversation at the moment where the product is top-of-mind, resulting in thousands of tweets that engage people around the brand. Both campaigns have triggered amazing engagement and content virality.
How do you develop content that will capture the attention of the social sphere? With a business intelligence tool you can mine for effective content by tracking and analyzing the social content being created within your industry. Once it’s tracked and analyzed, you can identify which content is generating the most engagement and quickly repurpose or use that insight to invent new content in a timely and scalable manner.
3. Alignment to Specific Job Roles
A May 2012 report by Forrester Research, Inc. entitled “Defining Social Intelligence” identified 14 different use cases for social intelligence that relate to different marketing goals and roles. Basically, this means social media can and should be integrated into every function of a corporation. It has become common practice to have social media-based customer service or lead gen teams, but what about having the legal team monitor for copyright infringement or privacy threats across social media platforms?
Social is so much bigger than the prevailing concept of “lets get more fans and likes” that many companies are still using. A smart social strategy is segmented so that specific departments or groups have very specific goals that they are trying to achieve with social – much like the legal example used above. It also means that specific employees should only see data that relates to their job performance so they don’t get lost in the numbers. The community manager will need to track how quickly the customer service team is responding to customer posts and tweets whereas for the product marketing team, it’s not about speed but the the content of the customer feedback.
4. Real-Time Alerts and Visual Reporting
Once you have social metrics tied to specific goals and employee roles, the big question is “what should I do now?” The emphasis here is on the word NOW because we live in a world driven by real-time communications. Companies are implementing “real-time alerting” systems that trigger when a specific social metric (say the number of people who are sharing a specific post or tweet) reaches a certain threshold that requires action. If a tweet appears to have sparked fan engagement, the brand may want to turn it into a promoted tweet to further amplify the message – but it has to be done in real-time because the shelf-life of social content is short.
To do this successfully, it’s important to have an automated and visual system that alerts the right person at the right time in an easy-to-digest way. In our discussions with CMO’s we’ve discovered “distributed dashboards” are the best way to leverage real-time reporting. These are custom dashboards built for individual employees or groups within a corporation that clearly display metrics tied to a specific job role. The idea is to visually display only relevant metrics so that key insights and actions can be quickly identified.
5. Testing, Tracking and Trading
CMOs complain that there is so much hype in social media that they don’t know what’s really working. The reality is that at this stage everybody is still trying to figure out what works. So what are smart CMOs doing? They are testing and tracking their social programs to find out what works and what doesn’t. They have put systems into place to do this and can literally implement hundreds of social experiments each quarter. The results go into a “best practice” library. They are also engaging front line employees at the local level to share and “trade” what they are learning with both head office and employees in other locations.
SMART social is a data-driven approach that is specifically aligned to broader corporate metrics as well as tied to specific job roles. It is real-time and action oriented and is focused on identifying “amazing content” that results in superior reach, engagement and virality. It encourages experimentation and collaboration at both the corporate and local level and invites its customers to be part of this process.