Talk to many C-suite executives about their organisational social strategy, and they’ll give you the same vague answer: “Yes, we do social media. Our company has a Twitter and Facebook account...” In 2018, this statement is akin to saying that a company ‘does’ human resources, finance or marketing. When consumers expect instantaneous response, bespoke offers, numerous buying options and exemplary customer service from every organisation they come into contact with — a company simply ‘doing social’, the bare minimum, will soon be left at the wayside.
Is your company socially mature?
It’s no secret that social marketing has well and truly matured.There are now numerous ways to collate, analyse and use data — all of which can help the C-suite make better business decisions if utilised correctly. The problem however, is that shockingly few organisations are actually socially mature enough to recognise the power of that data, let alone use it in a way which will aid with brand growth or increase customer loyalty.
But what is social maturity? Put simply it’s the ultimate benchmark when it comes to how companies approach social media, including how they deploy and experiment with it to better engage and communicate with customers, partners, stakeholders and colleagues. If an organisation is socially mature for example, then it will likely excel across social selling, advertising and online customer experience.
This is all well and good, but, when the archetypal organisation is driven from the top down, how do marketing and social teams demonstrate the business value of social to help grow that maturity, educate the CEO and secure executive buy-in?
Talk the C-suite’s language
The C-suite in general, and specifically the CEO, cares about three things: making money, saving money and managing risk. It’s up to social teams and marketing executives to highlight to them how their investments in social are going to complement their overall goals; mapping social metrics to business outcomes so that teams can move forward in their programme with executive support.
This is often easier said than done, but for starters social and marketing executives need to start thinking how everything they undertake, including the data they glean from social tools, can be fed back into the senior management team to demonstrate ROI.
Measurable and actionable
‘Tracking’ is the all-important word here, everything pulled from social needs to be measurable and actionable. Because of this it’s imperative organisations are able to integrate their social channels with analytics and CRM tools so relevant business insights can be fully realised. Marketing and social teams need to avoid ‘vanity’ metrics such as number of likes, retweets, or followers. Instead the focus needs to be on the areas of social media which are actually driving value, did a specific campaign have a marked impact on click-throughs to a particular product or service? If so, what specific actions within that campaign drove value?
By knowing these actions, social teams can duplicate them, adjust and tweak, and continue to monitor if these have an ongoing correlation on revenue or conversion. If so, then you’ve got something that the C-suite can understand, which will greatly enhance the case for additional resources or investment in technology to give the programme legs.
Breaking down barriers
With increased resource comes the next piece of the puzzle. True social maturity relies on social running across departments beyond just marketing, taking into account other departmental objectives such as HR, sales and internal communications to name but a few. Should these departments operate in isolation, without being able to utilise the positive impact of social for their specific needs, it will hold areas of the organisation back from effective communication, innovation and progress.
It is therefore key to roll out the right measurement, training and tools to help grow the scale of social maturity, and start seeing real returns on real business objectives. Do this and those innovative buying options, award-winning customer service and targeted offers won’t be that difficult to roll out. Make no mistake, social can be the number one equaliser for brands — it just often needs the backing of the C-suite behind it.
By Rob Coyne, general manager EMEA at Hootsuite
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