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Infosys Insights: Improving effectiveness of social media strategy
Infosys Insights: Improving effectiveness of social media strategy
Infosys Insights: Improving effectiveness of social media strategy
Infosys Insights: Improving effectiveness of social media strategy
Infosys Insights: Improving effectiveness of social media strategy
Infosys Insights: Improving effectiveness of social media strategy
Infosys Insights: Improving effectiveness of social media strategy
Infosys Insights: Improving effectiveness of social media strategy
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Infosys Insights: Improving effectiveness of social media strategy

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It has always been challenging for businesses to determine the right resource allocation for the successful implementation of a social media strategy. Many organizations find it hard to improve the …

It has always been challenging for businesses to determine the right resource allocation for the successful implementation of a social media strategy. Many organizations find it hard to improve the effectiveness of a social media strategy in promoting brands and increasing revenues. An iterative quantification framework, the right tools, and the ability to quantify key business relationships are critical in increasing a strategy’s effectiveness.

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  • 1. - Girish Khanzode Improving Effectiveness of Social Media Strategy A Quantification Framework for Optimum investments and fully leveraging the social platform potential INSIGHTS
  • 2. Over the past few years, organizations are increasingly tapping into social media to understand customer behavior; improve brand value, operations, product, services and reputation; develop focused campaigns; and receive early warnings of potential customer issues. Social media has significantly altered how companies conduct their business and it has become a powerful connection- building tool with the stakeholders. As internet is increasingly used for business transactions, it is now critical for companies to influence the online opinions of stakeholders with the help of high quality relationships that must be built using their social media programs. At the same time, companies find it challenging to capture and leverage the immense potential that these new platforms offer. They are also faced with the problem of figuring out the right amount of investments for their social media initiatives. Studies indicate that 80% of companies agree that social media is a strategically important tool for effectively running their business, but only 20% believe they are leveraging most of the opportunities offered by the medium. Majority of companies do not have standard frameworks in place for systematically extracting benefits from social media programs. Three-fourth of companies do not have programs to measure the value obtained by their social media initiatives. Nearly half of companies do not allocate their budgets based on returns from social media programs but do it based on historical spending patterns or gut instinct. Companies are spending billions of dollars on brand promotions and media communications. However, they are allotting just a minuscule percentage to compute returns, which is critical to optimize investments. Difficulties in directly correlating various online activities of stakeholders to objectives of a social media program create further challenges. As a result, most of the companies are befuddled when it comes to measuring the impact of their social media investments and figuring out how to improve its effectiveness.
  • 3. Creating an Effective Social Media Program In order to achieve higher effectiveness of a social media initiative, companies must avoid common pitfalls and focus on following key points. Social media should not be regarded as another medium to advertise but as a stakeholder ecosystem whose goodwill is critical to success of the business. As consumers embrace the web as a preferred channel for shopping of goods and services, they are increasingly making their purchase decisions based on online opinions of other consumers. They are also more likely to prefer brands that are perceived socially and environmentally responsible, honest and transparent. In order to leverage these trends, social media programs must focus on building a robust reputation amongst their target communities and create deeper relationships. When companies actively listen to community members and quickly address their needs, there will be a positive impact on sales and brand perception will ascend over time. As social media has redefined timescales due to lightening dissemination of information, brand monitoring must be round-the-clock with clear policies for rapid response to issues as they arise. A problem must be addressed before it goes viral since reputations might get damaged within hours. Having good relations with the stakeholder communities ensures that in such cases the brand is passionately defended by the members, thus reducing the overall negative impact. Social media has given rise to a new breed of dominant individuals with large and loyal followers. Opinions of these influencers can sway the brand perception with much more intensity than ordinary individuals. A social media initiative must concentrate on converting these key individuals to brand champions by building good relationships, in order to benefit from their vocal advocacy. Social media programs must focus on all the stakeholders rather than a subset, since they collectively magnify the influence that a social media initiative attempts to build. Examples of these stakeholders include customers, employees, suppliers and business partners, investors, media,
  • 4. thought leaders, analysts, government representatives and civil societies. Higher number of“like”,“tweet”or“pin”will not guarantee more sales. However, the quality and depth of engagements with stakeholders will surely influence it over the period. As long as the program focuses on fostering healthy relationships based on trust, satisfaction, credibility, stability and mutual exchange, a brand will continue to flourish. Importance of Quantifying Relationships The effectiveness of a social media program is directly dependent on the quality of the associations with stakeholders. The reputation of a brand is a collective outcome of all the relationships that a social media program is able to build over time. If a program can nurture high quality, rich and positive relationships, the management will witness a rapid and significant conversion of potential customers to loyal fans, directly leading to higher revenues. It will become much easier for a company to promote itself, innovate at a faster rate, retain employees longer and operate more profitably. If the program fails to achieve expectations, there will be a drop in customer loyalty, brand value, employee tenures, revenues and operating costs, leading to competitors surging ahead. In order to figure out if a social media program is indeed delivering the intended objectives, the health of relationships must be quantified. If the quality of engagements cannot be calculated, effectiveness of the program cannot be understood or improved. It is also important to carry out quantification on a continuous basis, to precisely identify incremental investments and achieve excellence. As part of this process, data must be collected at regular intervals, analyzed and measured against the predefined goals of the program. Derived results should be used to improve the program making it more efficient. Results will also benefit in building a data driven decision-making culture, perform high precision strategic planning and improve understanding of competitor capabilities. Establishment of a mature measurement program will lead to continuous improvements in business processes helping a company to survive and thrive. Ability to quantify and analyze what is relevant for the goals of a social media program is fundamental to controlling its effectiveness and must be systematically implemented with right rigor to reap the rewards.
  • 5. Selecting Right Tools Business relationships can be quantified by measuring opinions. With rapid advances in technology, there is a plethora of free and paid offerings available to compute and analyze online opinions. Availability of public data from a large number online resources and automated content analysis tools has made it easier to conduct analytics for mapping stakeholder activities to social media program goals. Once the stakeholder cluster to monitor is identified, simple and free tools like Twitter Feeds, Google alerts can be used to track the exchanges of opinions containing brand and competitors. Surveys are also a powerful method to quantify perceptions. Costs need not be very high since entire representative sample of USA can be captured with less than 1000 contributors. Media content analysis and Sentiment analysis are necessary to quantify what the universe of customers, prospects, competitors and media is discussing about the brand and offerings. Automated tools are convenient when conversation volumes are enormous. With the accuracy of 50%, these tools provide speed, processing consistency and cost savings. However, they are not as accurate as manual analysis when it comes to subjective assessment or contextual analysis of content with respect to tone, slang, culture, customs or sarcasm. When messages and discussions are intricate, manual analysis is a better option but it is slow, expensive and may suffer from the individual bias. The most important point is that the selection of processing methods and tools must solely be guided by goals of a social media program in order to meet its objectives. For example, success of a web campaign or event will need web server analytics; brand awareness quantification will need online survey software, severity of quality issues will require sentiment analysis tools and finding effectiveness of message in the media will require media analysis products. Establishing a Quantification Framework In order to allocate optimum budgets using a systematic approach and fully leverage the benefits of social media initiatives, it is critical to put in place a quantification framework along with dedicated resources. It will help quantify and analyze the key business relationships by continuously collecting social data. Computed results will enable fine-tuning the social strategy using periodic reviews. 1. Identify Social Program Objectives What results you want to see from social media initiative? What problem are you trying to solve? Objectives should be trackable, tangible and value-add for the brand. These can be categorized into multiple areas like business, commercial and communication. Selected objectives should converge to high-level business goals like brand perception, innovation, revenue generation, operational
  • 6. efficiencies or customer experience. Examples include - improve brand awareness, attract talent or acquire new customers. 2. Determine Target Stakeholder Cluster Focus on the sections of social population relevant to your goals and objectives. How do these people currently perceive your brand? What is current influence level? Once these are known, you can tailor your social media efforts to convert the target stakeholders towards the objectives and achieve the level of engagement you want. 3. Identify Stakeholder Needs What issues matter to your target audience? What inspires them? What motivates them to purchase your offerings? What are the concerns discussed most? Analyzing and executing actions based on stakeholder concerns accelerates high value relationship building and achieves program goals faster. 4. Establish Yardsticks Identify how you will compare your findings. These could be the industry best practices, sector leaders, peers or past performance of your own company. Continuous tracking of quantified data against accepted yardsticks will help steer the program towards objectives in an effective manner. 5. Allocate Resources Start with initial budget based on past allocations or any other suitable criterion. Once quantification process matures, resource and budget allocations must be decided by returns on investments made in the past. Higher allocations should be funneled into initiatives that are providing maximum results at the cost of failing ones, as demonstrated by quantified results. This ensures that your social media efforts are optimally executed and providing higher returns as time progresses. 6. Choose Performance Indicators Identify key criterion of success and outcome measures for the goals. Decide the measurement method for conversions of stakeholders to program objectives. Instead of measuring everything, narrow down to a set of quantifiable attributes that closely match with predefined goals. The temptation to quantify something just because you have a tool for it must be avoided. Quantifying wrong parameters is worse than measuring nothing. 7. Monitor Progress Decide what you want to monitor. Keep a close watch on what is working and what is not. Apply strategies that are yielding best results. Conduct periodic reviews, draw actionable conclusions and relate them to objectives; and make changes. Taking periodic actions based on tracking results will ensure that social media program is kept on its chartered path with period course corrections. 8. Compute Returns Compute returns on your investments. Track the type of promotions that add most to profits. Calculate the change in desired outcome based on each dollar invested and returns achieved. Keep an eye on social platforms that generate the most sales so that you can invest more in them to achieve higher effectiveness.
  • 7. A systematic implementation of this framework will be highly useful in quantifying and creating rich business connections with employees, customers, investors, partners, civil societies and measuring impact of web campaigns, promotions, PR initiatives, loyalty programs, media events or sponsorships. It will result in benefits like higher customer acquisitions, repeat customers, referrals, web site traffic, employee loyalty; and reduction in customer issues.
  • 8. © 2013 Infosys Limited, Bangalore, India. All Rights Reserved. Infosys believes the information in this document is accurate as of its publication date; such information is subject to change without notice. Infosys acknowledges the proprietary rights of other companies to the trademarks, product names and such other intellectual property rights mentioned in this document. Except as expressly permitted, neither this documentation nor any part of it may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, printing, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of Infosys Limited and/ or any named intellectual property rights holders under this document. About Infosys Infosys is a global leader in consulting, technology and outsourcing solutions. As a proven partner focused on building tomorrow’s enterprise, Infosys enables clients in more than 30 countries to outperform the competition and stay ahead of the innovation curve. Ranked in the top tier of Forbes’ 100 most innovative companies, Infosys – with $7.4B in annual revenues and 155,000+ employees – provides enterprises with strategic insights on what lies ahead. We help enterprises transform and thrive in a changing world through strategic consulting, operational leadership and the co-creation of breakthrough solutions, including those in mobility, sustainability, big data and cloud computing. Visit www.infosys.com to see how Infosys (NYSE: INFY) is Building Tomorrow’s Enterprise® today. For more information, contact askus@infosys.com www.infosys.com Author Profile Girish Khanzode Products & Platforms Innovator for Futuristic Technologies, Infosys Girish is a veteran in Enterprise Software Product design and development with more than 2 decades of professional experience. He has built and led large product engineering teams to deliver highly complex products in a variety of domains, covering entire product life cycle. He is involved in innovating and building the next generation products and platforms in emerging new technology areas like Enterprise Data Security and Privacy, Enterprise Collaboration, Digital Workplace, Social Analytics, Smart Cities, Big Data and Internet of Things. Girish holds M. Tech. degree in Computer Engineering.

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