A great deal has been written on the topic of social media in business. There are numerous opinions and experiences. Some say that social media is intended for personal use; there are organizations that do not allow employees access to social media platforms. Others say social media is the future; that train has already left the station.
Typically, the discussion revolves around the efficacy and utility of social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter. This isn’t the best starting point for the discussion.
First, let’s distinguish between a social business strategy and social media. Here are definitions suggested by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC in a study they released this spring:
Social media is the external-facing component that gives and receives customer input.
Social business is where core internal operations, such as customer service, data analytics and product development could use social data
I believe social business is more encompassing. It must include strategies that go way beyond just connecting data and insights. As important as that is, what I am suggesting is, for many, a change in culture. It is tapping into the talent across the organization by reaching across functional silos and fostering an atmosphere that is truly customer centric, collaborative and engaging.
Author Patrick Lencioni believes this business strategy has the potential to be a competitive advantage.
Using Social Media for Business
I can still remember when computers were being deployed in business. There was a great deal of discussion about their efficacy. Many believed that computers could do almost anything. I distinctly remember analysts pointing out that entering a chaotic, unorganized process into a computer would only automate chaos and disorganization.
The same is true for social media. If an organization does not have a healthy culture or a strategy, then simply choosing a social media platform will only draw attention to the organization’s dysfunction. Social media should not be used as another marketing or customer service tactic.
How to use Social Media for Business
Corporate culture matters.
Effective social business requires leadership and discipline. Organizations have to learn to walk the social talk. There is a growing segment of social shoppers. These are connected consumers with high expectations that the brands they use will be present in the social space where they are, engaged with them, providing information and resources, listening to their voice.
In exchange social shoppers will share their experiences with their social networks.
Social Media for Small Business
Social media offers some significant advantages for small businesses. Often a smaller business is able to address culture issues faster simply because they have fewer functional silos; however, internal communication and coordination can still be very challenging. Businesses of all sizes have to embrace and understand the value of a differentiating customer experience.
Changing consumer shopping behaviors and new search algorithms offer an advantage to businesses that think local and relevant. Increasingly placing an emphasis on creating a relevant, helpful, consistent customer experience will pay off.
Social Business Strategies Drive Social Media Strategies
So how do you develop social business strategies?
First, start with your customer. Ask questions like:
- Do you know how they decide to buy and use your product or service?
- Are you familiar with their questions and challenges?
- Are they using social media? If so, which platforms?
- How do they consume content?
Next, think about your employees:
- Are they aware of company promotions and offers?
- Do they see the communications delivered to your customers?
- Do they know how to answer customer questions? If not, do they know where to direct those questions?
- Do you regularly ask for their input? This is especially true for staff who are in regular contact with customers.
- Do they use social media?
- What kind of customer experience does your organization value?
- Have you mapped all customer touch points?
- What have you done to foster an atmosphere of collaboration?
- Have you visited your web site from a smart phone? Have you browsed and looked for information, or tried to purchase?
- How will social media fit within the context of the overall marketing mix?
Social Media Strategies
Now that you are developing strategies that address corporate culture and will integrate social into the marketing mix, you are ready to work on social media strategies. These strategies will enable you to determine how social media can help in the buying process.
Create a buying process map that will allow you to match appropriate content and contact that will help consumers, find, evaluate, compare, buy, use and share their experiences around your product or service.
What do you think? What are other considerations?
Source Social Media Today