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Bain Brief: Putting social media to work


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One of a few very well researched and written reports on social media. The writers align social to various elements of the customer journey ensuring context throughout. So good stats in here too. Worth the read. [I've made a few highlights to the areas I believe are most pertinent].

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Bain Brief: Putting social media to work

  1. 1. Early adopters are gaining real economic value from their invest- ments in social media. Customers who engage with companies over social media are more loyal and they spend up to 40 percent more with those companies than other customers.Putting social media to workBy Chris Barry, Rob Markey, Eric Almquist and Chris Brahm
  2. 2. Chris Barry is a partner in Bain & Company’s Los Angeles office. Rob Markeyand Eric Almquist are partners in Boston. Chris Brahm is a partner basedin San Francisco.Copyright © 2011 Bain & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.Content: Global EditorialLayout: Global Design
  3. 3. Putting social media to workEarly adopters are gain- applied in new ways. While they often experiment and sometimes fail, they don’t allow themselvesing real economic value to fall into the trap of thinking that somehowfrom their investments “everything has changed” in this new social media. Custom- As part of a broader customer engagement strategy,ers who engage with social media can be an effective and cost-efficient marketing, sales, service, insight and retentioncompanies over social tool. Our recent survey of more than 3,000 con-media are more loyal sumers helped to identify what makes social media effective. We found that customers who engageand they spend up to with companies over social media spend 20 per-40 percent more with cent to 40 percent more money with those com- panies than other customers (see Figure 1). Theythose companies than also demonstrate a deeper emotional commit-other customers. ment to the companies, granting them an average 33 points higher Net Promoter® score (NPS®),Five years ago, few general managers outside of a common measure of customer loyalty (seethe tech industry had heard the term “social me- sidebar, “NPS 101”).dia.” As social networking services such as Face-book and Twitter broke loose on the mainstream Embracing empowered consumersbusiness scene, the majority of companies stoodon the sidelines trying to make sense of it all. More than 60 percent of Internet-connected indi- viduals in the US now engage on social mediaDespite the proliferation of corporate Facebook platforms every day. The speed and access to infor-pages and Twitter accounts during the last couple mation that they’ve come to appreciate has madeof years, most businesses still effectively remain on them more demanding customers. For example,the sidelines. The gap between the early adopters many now expect real-time customer serviceand those waiting to take the plunge has actually recovery and quick responses to their online feed-widened. While the average billion-dollar company back. Hyper-connected individuals regularlyspends $750,000 a year on social media, according broadcast their opinions. And they rely on theirto Bain & Company analysis, some early adopt- friends and social networks for news, reviews anders such as Dell, Wal-Mart, Starbucks, JetBlue and recommendations for products and businesses.American Express invest significantly more. Insome instances, the investment is tens of millions Social media leaders understand and appreciateof dollars. Who is right—the early adopters or the magnitude of the shift in customer empower-the companies still waiting it out? ment and the opportunities and risks that these tools create. As a result, they approach their socialOur research shows that several early adopters media efforts differently. While the average compa-have captured real economic value from their ny may maintain Facebook and Twitter accountsinvestments. But the social media scene is so tur- and have other discrete programs run by theirbulent and frothy that many others have poured marketing or customer service teams, in our expe-good money after bad in their attempts to engage rience, these efforts tend to be uncoordinated, withcustomers. The leaders typically employ the same different business units, brands or geographiestried-and-true business principles—refined through conducting their own social media experiments.traditional marketing, service and operations— 1
  4. 4. Putting social media to work Figure 1: Engaged customers spend more Engaged customers spend 30% more Annual average spend (indexed to Promoter=100) 150 +30% 100 +40% +20% 50 0 Promoter Passive Detractor Engaged Unengaged Source: Social Media Consumer Survey (January 2011), n=3,019 By contrast, the leading firms invest significantly • Should we build or buy our own “commu- more. They pursue integrated social media strat- nity” or partner with one of today’s leading egies, with a more holistic assessment of the value platforms? Or both? Where should we that social media can create across the businesses, place our bets? and with efforts directly tied to strategic business objectives. As the early adopters continue to invest, • How should we organize and coordinate our their peers take different approaches. Some feel efforts? Across brands? Across business that they have social media at least partially sorted units? Across geographies? out with their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. But others are beginning to ask more questions: • How should we measure results? How do we know whether we are creating real • What is the business case for investing fur- business impact? ther in social media? Where and how much should we invest? While no one can say for sure how social media will evolve, and no one can know which platforms • Fundamentally, how much is consumer be- will ultimately endure, the long-term winners havior changing? What are the biggest op- are likely to take a systematic approach based portunities and threats? How aggressively are on five key principles: my competitors investing in these tools, and are they capturing differential advantage? 1. Link social media efforts to concrete business objectives • What are the best practices in deploying social media strategies? What are the pit- The roadmap for a successful business-to- falls to avoid? consumer social media strategy starts first and2
  5. 5. Putting social media to work NPS 101 One effective way to measure the effect of a social media program on customer loyalty is with the use of a Net Promoter system. To start out, one should measure a Net Promoter score (NPS) by asking customers the question: “How likely would you be to recommend [this company or product] to a friend or colleague?” Respondents who give marks of nine or 10 are promoters, the company’s most devoted customers. Those scoring their experience seven or eight are passives, and those scoring it from zero to six are detractors. NPS is the percentage of promoters minus the percentage of detractors. After ranking customers, companies create a closed-loop system to learn why customers are promoters, passives or detractors, and to deliver the feedback directly to employees who can act on that feedback. When appropriate, they follow up directly with customers. Companies make it a priority to increase the number of their promoters and shrink the number of their detractors, discovering and investing behind the actions that improve the company’s NPS in ways that are financially sound and that will result in profitable, sustainable, organic growth.foremost with understanding the full value that • Improve the product or user experiencesocial media can create as one tool in a broader by embedding social capability; examplescustomer engagement strategy. are social gaming, social television and social shoppingSocial media shouldn’t be viewed as a mere chan-nel for marketing or public relations or as simply • Wow customers with real-time service re-an effective customer service tool. While many sponse, recovery and technical support, withcompanies started out using social media to get greater efficiency than traditional channelsthe word out about products, the most successfulhave significantly expanded their efforts to engage • Capture torrents of consumer insights, andtheir customers at every step of what we call the facilitate consumer-led innovation“customer corridor,” touch points that start whena potential customer first learns of a product and • Build community and affinity throughextend through the moment they opt to make engagement, earning greater loyalty, spend-repeat purchases. ing and referralsSocial media can create value at each step along Several companies have registered real bottom-the way to: line results from their social media efforts (see Figure 2). Most impressive, however, are the• Generate awareness at a fraction of the companies that have stepped back and deployed cost of traditional advertising media and holistic social media strategies aimed at unlock- enable hyper-targeted marketing ing value at each stage of the customer corridor.• Prompt trials with daily and increasingly Consider Dell and its broad use of social media. real-time, location-based promotions Dell’s current social media efforts grew out of the 3
  6. 6. Putting social media to work Figure 2: Companies using social media to serve the needs of customers can achieve real returns at every touch point Ford achieved same level of brand recognition with a Fiesta social media Awareness campaign at 10% of traditional TV ad cost Wet Seal reports that social shoppers have a 2.5 times greater conversion rate Purchase than the average customer Nike+ product and social community credited with increasing Nike running shoe Use market share from 48% to 61% Intuit’s own QuickBook customers answer 70% of fellow customer service questions online Service LEGO credits customer ideasourcing with its decision to launch more expensive Feedback and customer innovated sets, such as the 500 piece Star Wars product eBay community users spend 54% more than other customers Retention Sources: Industry publications and websites; Bain analysis company’s customer-centric and direct selling 2. Focus and tailor your efforts to engage model, founder Michael Dell’s foresight of the your key customers power of online social engagement, and some in- famous prodding on technology blogs. Brought Winning companies have learned that, while an to life as a way to respond to customer service effective social media strategy can reap big rewards, issues, Dell’s social media efforts expanded in it also isn’t something that happens easily. It is multiple directions, helping the company in- obvious to many companies now that you can’t crease revenues and retain loyal customers. To just put up a Facebook page and start broadcast- boost sales, the company’s Dell Outlet site offers ing content. You can’t take for granted that fans flash promotions through Twitter. The computer will just stick around and allow their walls to be maker uses feedback generated on social media filled with marketing and promotions. to improve its products and customer service: Direct2Dell facilitates active dialogue be- Bain & Company research shows that the average tween customers and company leaders, while its Facebook user will “like” no more than seven enables crowd-sourced ideas and companies or brands. Facebook users must be gives customers the opportunity to collaborate selective or they will soon find their walls flush and prioritize product and service improvements. with corporate messaging and promotions, leav- Finally, the company relies on social media to ing little room for posts by friends and family. To activate promoters and acquire new customers: increase the odds of capturing valuable real es- @Dell interacts with potential customers—and tate on a customer’s wall, it is critical to know also facilitates promoter interaction with poten- your target audience and understand which social tial customers. End-to-end, social media is a key media platforms they frequent, as well as the tool in Dell’s customer engagement strategy. type of content and engagement they find most4
  7. 7. Putting social media to workcompelling. Only then can you optimize your of the “Young and Mobile” will reach them throughplatform mix and tailor your content to reach micro-blogs and location-based games, makingthose customers. the most of the platforms that are popular with this segment. As the social media ecosystem con-Our research has identified 10 segments of social tinues to evolve, it will likely further fragment,consumers (see Figure 3). Members of these making consumer segmentation—and tailoredsegments frequent different social media plat- social media approaches—even more impor-forms and prefer different types of content and tant for success.engagement models. For example, companiessuch as Disney, Wal-Mart and Mattel, who target In addition to tailoring efforts to key custom-“moms,” will find they are disproportionately ers, companies need engagement plans that“Social Butterflies” and “Social Gamers.” A key explicitly target their promoters and detractors,demographic on Facebook, “moms” as a group as well as key influencers. Promoters are a com-spend significant amounts of time playing pany’s natural fans, though our research showssocial games. Companies such as Nestlé have that a company’s Facebook fans and Twitterfound ways to embed their brands into the followers are actually a mix of promoters, pas-games that moms play online. For example, the sives and allows users to grow ingredients of itsStouffer’s brand prepared meals within the Most companies dread the vocal and influentialFarmVille game. It engages with key custom- detractor. Social media offers these unhappyers in the right platform, and with the content customers a platform from which to quickly broad-those customers find compelling. Alternatively, cast their negative commentary. Companies suchcompanies looking to capture the online attention as JetBlue and Dell, who actively monitor socialFigure 3: Who’s online? Design the social strategy with target consumers in mind Bain’s social media consumer segmentation 18% 12% 12% 11% 10% Social Butterflies Fact Finders Contributors Blog Readers Observers• Heavy users of • Heavy users of • Disproportionate • Moderate social • Maintain passive personal networks multimedia sites, creators and posters media use and presence on social• Skew to female users, ratings and review of content disproportionate networking sites younger and working sites, branded • Heavy users of presence on blog sites • Skew to female• “Moms” represent a communities location based games, • Skew to male users, older large share • Skew to male crowdsourcing sites, users, older users, older branded communities, social shopping 10% 9% 8% 6% 4% Deal Hunters Young and Mobile Social Gamers Showgoers Professional Networkers• Heavy users of ratings • Heavy users of • Active on social • Tend to be passive • Heavy users and review sites, microblogs, social gaming and consumers of of professional group buying sites, networking and engaged in location entertainment and networking sites branded communities location based games based gaming content generated and microblogs• Disproportionate • Skew to younger • Significant contingent by others • Skew to male share of spending demographics, skews older users, affluent occurs online e.g., studentsSource: Social Media Consumer Survey (January 2011), n=3,019 5
  8. 8. Putting social media to work Making the business case for social media Many companies struggle to calculate an ROI on their investment in social media. And without confidence in clear returns, have difficulty securing the funds needed to scale their efforts. Compa- nies that most successfully make the business case for social media use a two-pronged approach. First, they set clear business objectives for using social media at each step across the customer corridor. They run small, contained pilots, carefully tracking returns to demonstrate whether fur- ther investment is warranted. For example, if the objective is to generate leads, the same metrics and measures used to assess the effectiveness of other marketing vehicles can be deployed to gauge the success of a social media pilot campaign. If the objective is to boost customer service, the effectiveness can be measured by service resolutions, relative cost and productivity, call avoidance and the ratios of detractors converted to promoters. Second, companies further build the case by considering the broader value of social media. They articulate the value of engaging their customers where they are increasingly spending time and consider the real business value that authentic engagement can create. Again, customers who engage with companies over social media are more loyal and they spend 20 percent to 40 percent more with those companies than other customers do. Social media platforms are becom- ing increasingly important for companies to engage with, delight and retain their best customers. chatter, engage detractors on a real-time basis in Social media leaders also think just as carefully an effort to diffuse heated commentary. In the about how they can effectively nurture and mo- best outcomes, they successfully convert those bilize “Influencers”—those hyper-connected detractors to promoters. Dell estimates that its individuals who have disproportionate online customer service teams can convert a detractor clout. Companies such as Microsoft, Dell, and to a promoter more than 30 percent of the time. Procter & Gamble host events for Influencers, JetBlue’s real-time Twitter customer service recov- provide special online recognition, allow them ery force received much attention for its adept to try and test products, and host online chats. handling of last December’s “Snowmageddon.” They invest in the Influencers to magnify the JetBlue effectively converted stranded passengers impact of their engagement efforts. from detractors to promoters by quickly rebook- ing them on new flights. And these successful 3. Build a social media organization to recovery efforts were witnessed by JetBlue’s 1.6 deliver results million Twitter followers. Stories of the exceptional recovery reverberated broadly across the Web and Once a company has linked its approach to busi- beyond, as traditional media outlets picked them ness strategy and targeted its key customers, it up. JetBlue estimates that its customer service needs to put in place an organization to follow recovery over Twitter is more productive than through—an organization that’s designed to when delivered over alternative channels and that enable coordination and share best practices. it can handle five customer-related tweets for every Winning companies mobilize cross-functional one call handled through a call center. As the teams spanning marketing, sales, public relations, company’s successes have grown, it has contin- corporate strategy, customer service, product ued to invest further in its Twitter-enabled cus- development, IT, HR and legal. tomer service team.6
  9. 9. Putting social media to workMany companies today have social efforts siloed Leaders also look for ways to capture the greatestacross functions. Leaders align their organizations scale benefit from their investments in organiza-to more effectively coordinate and communicate. tion and tools. Social media organizations tendWhy is this important? First, it allows the entire or- to grow as companies prove they are achievingganization to learn from each customer touch point. benefits. While most companies build the socialSecond, it better enables the company to deliver a media organization initially to engage their cus-consistent and seamless customer experience. tomers, they often find that they can also use these same social teams and platforms to en-While the organization must ultimately be defined gage their own employees and their a company’s unique social media strategy,we’ve seen three successful organizational models 4. Monitor and measure the results—thendeployed to coordinate social media efforts: close the loop• Empowered units. Dell is a great example Creating the right dashboard to measure and of a company with an empowered unit struc- track results is critical. There are a few challenges ture. Within this type of organizational in measuring the return on investment (ROI) on model, the social media strategy is managed social media efforts, and many companies will by a cross-functional team that can be staffed remain gun-shy about spending until they cap- virtually or centrally—or a combination of the ture concrete evidence of ROI (See sidebar, two. The head of the social media organization “Making the business case for social media”). holds responsibility for integrating the vision, coordinating strategic initiatives and defining Leaders are quickly evolving their monitoring metrics and dashboards. Each function de- and measurement approaches. They are investing ploys its own social initiatives but circles back in the tools and methods to better integrate and to the group with insights and best practices. connect social conversations, Web analytics, cus- tomer records and purchase data. The aim is to• Command and control. Starbucks’ social me- both improve the effectiveness of their social cam- dia strategy is deployed by a single, central paigns and to better capture the data needed on social media organization. Such a team may leads and conversion to calculate financial returns. exist within a function or as an independent team under corporate. That approach allows Generally, companies should think about mea- for strong centralized control of consistent suring performance and tracking results in brand messages and customer experiences. three key ways:• Decentralized. Zappos and Best Buy both • Engagement metrics. Companies find it valu- deploy social media in a decentralized fashion. able to track the percentage of customers In this model, a small central team coordi- “engaged”—looking at such basic measures nates the efforts of numerous employees who as site traffic, fans and followers. Additional individually engage with customers via social engagement metrics include buzz and share media. Many companies deploying such a of voice. While most companies rely on third- model report that empowering employees party analytics firms to capture these metrics, increases morale and retention. With this leaders such as Dell and Gatorade have in- model, it is especially important to devise vested in their own social media listening and communicate clear social policies and command centers. Within these centers, em- procedures in order to manage risk to the ployees complement social media monitoring business and brands. software with a dashboard of key metrics such 7
  10. 10. Putting social media to work as brand discussions, customer interactions relay them back to the product and customer and media campaign performance. These service teams. It is this closed loop that allows dashboards emphasize the role of listening as companies to strengthen the underlying an organizational priority, and better enable business value proposition. Ultimately, that companies to spot important trends quickly. is how social media delivers long-term, sustainable value. • Customer metrics. Social media leaders in- vest in the tools necessary to track shifts in 5. Be flexible and adaptive. It’s still loyalty and NPS. They also invest in the early days manual “cleaning” of listening and analytic tool output to capture shifts in sentiment. Social media is one area in which everybody is learning in real time. Just as companies need to Social analytics providers are still developing continuously experiment to determine what works their machine-based algorithms to better for them and their customers, they also need to capture sentiment trends, which are difficult negotiate an increasingly crowded playing field, to obtain with natural language translation with newcomers always joining the game. The (see sidebar: “A caution on sentiment an- companies that succeed will be those that are alytics”). We expect that these firms—along flexible and adaptable. They’ll be able to quickly with the broader set of social engagement, try new approaches and just as quickly adjust— social management and social intelligence or abandon them. They’ll listen to social consum- support tool providers—will continue to in- ers and relay their findings back to product and vest to improve their tools. We also expect service teams to strengthen the company’s un- further consolidation in this space as the derlying value proposition. market continues to evolve and mature. These still are the early days and we expect the gap • Financial impact. Leaders aggressively cap- between social media leaders and others to contin- ture personal identifiers to link social media ue to grow. Consumer behavior will continue to profiles and associated behavior to customer evolve. New applications and social platforms will records databases. Contests and promotions proliferate and enable even greater personaliza- that require registration of email addresses tion and real-time, location-based engagement. and Twitter “handles” help bridge social Today’s social media winners won’t necessarily identities. Once the connection is made, be tomorrow’s. companies can more easily track leads, con- version and ROI on social campaigns. But amid the continuous disruption of a rapidly evolving game, companies that link social media In addition to measuring the success of so- to business objectives, target and tailor their en- cial media efforts, those companies that truly gagement to key customers, build a coordinated extract value from social media “close the organization, track results and close the loop, and loop.” They take the torrents of consumer stay flexible will significantly increase their odds insights captured via social engagement and of capturing real value from social media. Net Promoter® and NPS® are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.8
  11. 11. A caution on sentiment analyticsCompanies considering hiring social media analytics firms should be advised that this scienceis in its infancy, with serious limitations. Machine-based analytics tools can measure the volumeof posts, but they face significant challenges in accurately capturing sentiment. Raw online datamay be full of misspellings and gibberish. Natural language is full of sarcasm and slang. Assuch, time-intensive manual manipulation is still required to accurately assess consumer sentimentand capture consumer pain points. Such limitations have prevented analytics companies fromliving up to their potential. One strong signal that they fall short: while most industries achievean NPS of about 30 percent, the nascent social media analytics industry scores a - 60 percentNPS, according to Bain research.While we expect this young industry to consolidate and improve with further investment intools, few customers of these companies today are promoters.
  12. 12. Bain’s business is helping make companies more valuable.Founded in 1973 on the principle that consultants must measure their success in termsof their clients’ financial results, Bain works with top management teams to beat competitorsand generate substantial, lasting financial impact. Our clients have historically outperformedthe stock market by 4:1.Who we work withOur clients are typically bold, ambitious business leaders. They have the talent, the willand the open-mindedness required to succeed. They are not satisfied with the status quo.What we doWe help companies find where to make their money, make more of it faster and sustainits growth longer. We help management make the big decisions: on strategy, operations,technology, mergers and acquisitions and organization. Where appropriate, we work withthem to make it happen.How we do itWe realize that helping an organization change requires more than just a recommendation.So we try to put ourselves in our clients’ shoes and focus on practical actions.For more information, please visit