Social Media is greater than the sum of its parts, but it is these parts that define the socialization of business. Today consumers are interacting with peers, brands, and influencers in social networks at varying levels across more industries than you might possibly believe. The answers of who, what, when, where, how, and to what extent are out there, we just need to spend a moment searching for the insights necessary to galvanize meaningful social media content, branding, and engagement programs.
Instead of creating holistic programs that embrace social consumers through the distinct business channels that affect their decisions and experiences, we rush to networks to create a presence, one that may not fortify or represent the brand as well as we might think.
Hurry! Get a profile on Twitter, set up a brand page on Facebook. Let's go go go!
While it may seem commonsensical or more importantly logical to create a strategy for social networks based on research, data, and perception, a recent study shed light on some interesting facts.
A May 2010 study by Digital Brand Expressions found that 52% of social marketers are running social media programs without a defined "game plan." This finding is in line with an April report by R2Integrated that documented one-half of marketers were reacting to social rather than leading it.
Visibility is not the same as presence. In social media, presence is felt.
The Ingredients of Social Media Communications Plans
The Digital Brand Expressions report that found that those who are approaching social media with a plan find that needs, concerns, and outcomes outweigh the current scope of activities. The study found that logistics contributed to visibility, but insight was absent from investing in presence. Most notably, resource allocation guidelines, registration of branded usernames in social networks and competitive research were among the top ingredients of a social marketing plan. Other tactical elements include:
71% establish metrics to measure ROI, which is in direct contrast with a previous study by Mzinga that found that over 80% of companies were not measuring ROI.
52% plan for ongoing monitoring
45% develop social media protocols and policies
39% create and distribute guidelines for professional and personal social media use
At the bottom of the list, we see that only 29% of businesses are introducing protocols and policies for the usage of social media by specific departments. As this is the socialization of business, multiple divisions will embrace social media at any one moment, from sales to service to HR to sales and marketing and everything in between. Social media indeed reveals the true 360-degree opportunity. The social consumer is many things to brand snow and over time. And, to expect one representative or facet of business to track and engage with influential individuals in active and expansive networks is narrowing.
The question as to who owns social media is universal. Ownership begins within the team where social media championship is concentrated. As experience matures, social media extends and in many cases, "socializes" each sector. At the moment however, a land grab is in full effect with marketing taking the lead as the area responsible for the creation and management of social media plans. In fact 71% of respondents stated such with communications representing 29% , the executive team accounting for 16% and sales and IT tied with 10%.
The Last Mile Begins with the First Mile
In a recent post, I discussed the concept of The Last Mile and how social media would force businesses to adapt current practices to open-up traditional top-down methodologies by expanding engagement and interactive communications and feedback loops.
As previously stated, "Everything begins with a shift in perspective from viewing stakeholders as a separate entity, 'us vs. them,' to a singular view of 'us ' as this enlivens a new era of community-focused marketing and engagement."
The need for a new approach is inspired by the disconnect that exists not only between brands and social consumers, but also between the brand, management, and brand representatives in these emerging channels.
The socialization of business is forged in the last mile, but it is the first mile where strategy, planning, and the internal evolution of management and processes that inspires relevance and ultimately resonance.
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