Curing Social Media Trauma

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A step-by-step approach to leverage the emerging social media space and avoid pitfalls. …

A step-by-step approach to leverage the emerging social media space and avoid pitfalls.

Point of View by Binoy Bose, Senior Associate, Business Consulting

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  • 1. POINT OF viewCuring Social Media TraumaBy Binoy Bose | Senior Associate, Business Consulting, SapientNitroThe exponential growth and penetration of social media have opened up a new world of opportunitiesto re-engage with customers. At the same time, this plethora of channels has caught CxOs oforganizations unguarded, wondering where to start and how to engage customers effectively.Organizations looking for a step-by-step approach to leverage the emerging social media spaceand avoid pitfalls should consider the following:Step 1: Identify the “Right” ChannelsIt will be nearly impossible for any organization to establish its presence on all social media channelsand participate in them daily (or sometimes hourly). So, the first step is to locate where your customersare most active and engaged.Armed with the traditional distribution list from marketing, you can start sending direct mails andemails to the existing and prospective customers, requesting them to indicate their presence onFacebook, blogs, YouTube, etc. Based on the response from customers, you can establish yourpresence in the channels with which they’re most engaged, invite them to “join the conversation,”and invest your resources there.Step 2: Locate Your EpicenterBefore the arrival of social media channels, your online presence was limited to a corporate websiteand/or an ecommerce site. Now, it’s time to re-define the epicenter of your online ecosystem.For some organizations, it may make sense to move away from traditional online channels in lieu of aFacebook or YouTube account if their brand context resonates deeply with the channel characteristic.But this may not go down well with the organizations, who would like to exercise absolute control overcontent and its presentation. For few others, the ongoing war for social media dominance betweenvarious channels can be a limiting factor.Once the epicenter is defined, online strategy must be to drive traffic to the “epicenter” site from othersites, whenever there is a need to engage your customers deeply or convert prospects to customers.Step 3: Re-visit Content StrategyToday, content is all over the place and various parts of the content distributed to customers is ownedby the marketing, customer service, and merchandising teams within the organization. The entryof social media adds another layer of complexity by introducing user-generated content. Beforeembarking on a social media journey, you must re-visit content strategy to control the expansion ofdigital content, mitigating risk, and liability.a) Audit enterprise contentSocial media can leverage a lot of the existing enterprise content — text, images, video, and audio.But often, organizations will be sitting on a “digital landfill” without knowing the quantity and value © Sapient Corporation 2011
  • 2. POINT OF viewof information existing within internal systems. This is a big hindrance in the social space, wherethe ability to pull information from a variety of sources and blend them together within a short timeprovides momentum.To start with, enterprise content must be re-structured, removing any redundant information andtransforming it into findable knowledge. Then, the engagement level of customers with those contenttypes must be measured and compared against the objectives (if these were set initially). Thiscontent audit must cover all kinds of communications to customers — website content, telephonicconversations of customer service representatives, and presentations to B2B customers. If there isan opportunity for social media to continue or enhance any of these communications, then identifythe best social tool to meet objectives (e.g., static webpage content, which may benefit from Facebookconversations or a “call driver,” whose volume can be reduced by posting a video in YouTube).b) Transform contentBefore sharing content through social media, it is worthwhile to realize some of the uniquecharacteristics of social media.For instance, the content in social networks must be able to withstand the “atomization” of content asit traverses the social landscape. It should not be difficult to derive the contextual meaning for anybodywithin the network, as content gets broken down into small bits throughout its journey.Additionally, the tone and voice of content should be in accordance with your target customers, so theyfeel comfortable advocating your brand to their friends or followers. This will induce more trust andauthenticity in content as it navigates through the long tail of social networks. But remember, this doesnot necessarily mean mangling your brand’s voice to fit into the medium.To accommodate the unique characteristics of social media, you may need to re-purpose content towork in different social media tools or sometimes even create a slightly different content.Step 4: Establish a Governance PlanInitial social media efforts are bubbled-up from the bottom of an organization, resulting in adecentralized structure where each department (or individual) independently launches and managessocial initiatives. Later, the marketing department takes control and starts owning social mediaefforts. But this is also a stopgap measure until the organization re-invents itself to scale, expand, andultimately thrive.Soon, it will pave the way for a dandelion model with multiple hubs and spokes, where hubs representeither a brand or medium depending on size and nature of business. These hubs will be managed bycommunity managers to coordinate the efforts among various business units. Community managerswill, in turn, report to a Social Media Strategist running a Centre of Excellence (CoE), which will beresponsible for: • Training — Starting with rudimentary engagement techniques in public spaces and moving employees to more advanced levels of social media proficiency • Drafting policies and guidelines — Setting clear expectations for employees to ensure their voice is congruent with the core corporate values, and outlining social media triage charts for escalations and crisis management • Generating new content — Creating compelling, concise content to design interactions with specific calls-to-action and re-purposing content into different formats • Content scheduling — Pre-planning social media conversations in alignment with seasons and organization-related events, leaving remaining content as ad-hoc and reactive © Sapient Corporation 2011
  • 3. POINT OF viewSimilar to the evolution of your static website managed by a single webmaster to an online ecommerceplatform governed by dedicated functional teams, your organization will naturally progress from oneend of the continuum to the other, with hiccups and friction, to tame the social media beast.Step 5: Build Loyalty HubsCustomers often develop a deeper bond with products, services, and brands once they buy andinteract with them. Organizations can also consider launching a separate channel in order to foster therelationship with these customers.An often proven tactic is to set-up an “idea generation hub” to seek ideas and hold contests for productdevelopment or service enhancements from these customers. These loyal customers can then vote oneach others’ ideas and improve upon them. This is an excellent way to tap into the power of innovationas well as build loyalty loops. If customers’ ideas happen to be integrated into your future products orservices, it provides them a sense of ownership and they will then become brand advocates to theirfriends and followers.Step 6: Connect the DotsThe last — but not least — step is to construct an analytics framework, aligned with the businessobjectives of your organization. This framework must include both measurement and monitoringaspects of social media.Measurement framework must have business objectives, goals, metrics, benchmark, andsegmentation to measure ROI from social media and take actions.If your business objective is to create brand awareness and you are accomplishing this by designing anengaging campaign through social media, define the metric for this by focusing on the best gift of socialmedia – ability to spark and participate in conversations. Instead of measuring “likes” or followers,measure the conversation rate (e.g., the number of re-tweets per thousand followers on Twitter).Also, set benchmarks based on the investment of the campaign and phase of your organization in thesocial media lifecycle. Further, segment your audience to understand their diversity. As your onlinecommunity shapes up, this segmentation will help you to identify key influencers and recognize brandadvocates. If performance is below benchmark, figure out why: perhaps the content didn’t resonatewith the audience or the campaign was too expensive on a cost-per-engagement basis.For a business objective like generating sales, analysis must extend beyond the boundaries ofindividual channels. In their purchase pathway, customers are influenced by Paid Media (e.g., display ads, paid search), Earned Media (e.g., communities of brand enthusiasts), and Owned Media (e.g.,Corporate website, Facebook pages) to make their decisions. Organizations must comprehensivelyanalyze customer behavior across these media, to understand the subsequent conversions that occuron organization’s ‘epicenter’ site.In addition to measurement framework, design a monitoring framework to keep track of conversationswithin the social space, which are organically invoked. If you are able to correlate these buzz andsentiments with the circumstances that triggered those trends, such as traditional marketing activities,organizational or product changes, competitor actions, market conditions, and world events, then youcan stop further analysis. If not, it will be worthwhile to drill down and see the actual comments ofusers. Sometimes, you may even stumble upon a new idea from their free feedback. © Sapient Corporation 2011
  • 4. POINT OF viewClosing ThoughtsSocial media can definitely illuminate your brand, products, and services, and it can even inspire yourcustomers to make purchases. But before jumping on the social media bandwagon, it is paramount toapproach it with a strategy, to integrate social media into your enterprise fabric, and seek meaningfulinteractions with customers. Also, social media strategy should be continually reviewed and revised associal media landscape evolves and customer interest changes. Binoy Bose is part of Business Solutions Strategy group at SapientNitroSM. His focus is on disruptive business models and technology game changers. Binoy has over 7 years of experience in defining the roadmap and capabilities of digital platforms for large-scale manufacturers and retailers. © Sapient Corporation 2011