By Dan Purvis, director of PR, Meltwater Group
Jumping on the social media band-wagon is very tempting, especially now there is so much attention being paid to the potential benefits of businesses using it. But like so many other things in life – even more so in business – pushing on ahead with no clear idea of what you hope to achieve can lead to frustration and failure.
If your clients are important to you then social media ought to be important to you. Because those voices on twitter, Facebook and elsewhere are your clients and potential clients – and they’re speaking to you, direct. If you are prepared to listen, of course.
Listening is a key first step and will form the basis of analysing what’s being said and then going on to have a meaningful dialogue with your online audiences.
But social media strategies must hinge around the age-old business tent of ‘know your customer’. The customer has to be at the heart of everything you do online. And by that I don’t mean broadcasting a message to tens of thousands of people, but having meaningful interaction with them.
A key aspect of engagement involves finding the key influencers and finding out who they are, connecting with them, and building a community of ambassadors that will work with you and for you. In short, we like to look at it as turning conversations into customers.
Perhaps the most important part of this listening stage is your ability to cut through the cyber-noise and focus on what’s important to you.
One Meltwater client, a Norwegian dairy food company, came to us with a problem. They had learned that a competitor was about to launch a product similar to theirs - they panicked. Within 24 hours our social media monitoring tool, Meltwater Buzz, delivered strategic data which indicated that test consumers of this new product were mostly unimpressed and, further than that, they found out why. This online commentary suggested the new product was simply “too sweet.”
Armed with this information, our client was able to quickly shift from panic to strategy mode to ensure their own product retained its competitive edge within the market. They listened to their customers and transformed the feedback into action.
If listening grants you insight then analysis is the next step.
Your social media team, whether that is one person from your marketing or PR division or dozens of specifically hired staff, should be analysing the information they receive and funneling this directly to the appropriate departments of your business.
Understanding the importance of your online presence and the value your business will derive from strategic online positioning is key, but social media is not the “end of the line” in the flow of your business communications. When a consumer is found tweeting about one of our Meltwater products a designated team member knows instantly how to respond in order to channel the query to the appropriate sector of the business. Potential leads are transferred to sales, issues to customer relationship management, feedback to customer service. There is a consistent flow of interaction because the social media systems have been imbedded into our work processes.
Integrating your social media policy within the infrastructure of your business operations will assist you in analysing and deriving value from your social media interactions.
Create and chart workflows to direct client queries, issues and leads to the correct departments within your business, and to monitor responses and resolutions.
Set targets to manage the rapid response-times social media savvy clients are increasingly expecting.
Implement systems or seek resources to navigate and track market, geographic and consumer trends so that the data collected can be used effectively across all departments.
Engagement is only valuable when it is the culmination of listening and analysis.
Social media teams that engage without really understanding the vital role this interaction plays are at risk of creating negative brand equity. Consumers who utilise social media are, by and large, savvy and can spot shallow marketing techniques. Consequently, businesses more than ever, need to be thoughtful in their approach.
For me, engagement is not the interaction that happens within superficial discussions on Twitter. It’s not about counting fans on Facebook. It’s the handling of the information. It’s turning that information into insight. How that information is managed within your workflow. How a customer complaint is handled. How a lead is identified, the procedures used, the consistency shown. It’s about analysing masses of data to produce intelligence that supports your product offerings and development. That’s engagement. The connections you make. It’s your measured response to your current and potential customers. It’s your reaction to the wealth of information and insight social media offers your business. It’s about integrating the net-conversations into your work processes to generate real definable outcomes.
If you are looking for a world-class social media training course, contact The Knowledge Engineers.
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