Being a social business means more than tacking a few social icons onto your website. Companies like Dell, Southwest Airlines and Zappos have been converting their entire brand to reflect the changes happening in how people communicate and do business with them. Living in a social economy means using Facebook messenger to book a hotel and Twitter to order a pizza. But it’s also much more than that.
To be a truly social business means integrating at least these three things into the corporate culture.
1. Social Media Listening
Around 80% of brands use social media, primarily to publish content to the 71% of Americans who are on at least one network. But how many of them are listening to what their customers are saying?
Social Media Listening for business is just as important as active listening has been in sales for years. Consumer insights groups have long appreciated the unfiltered and candid insights social media provides them. These teams are able to conduct research into product usage and category trends in a matter of hours, when it used to take them weeks or months to collect similar insights.
Social media monitoring can be used across additional departments, such as marketing and upper management, for more than just monitoring employees’ posts. From keeping an eye on product recalls to watching for hijacked hashtags, brands have a lot riding on how they are being mentioned, and it’s worth listening to.
2. Customer Outreach
There has been an eight-fold increase in complaints made on social media since 2014 – and about 42% of these people expect a response within 60 minutes. While not every customer comment is a problem, brands should be paying attention, and acknowledging these posts when appropriate.
Using social networks to reach out directly to brands is so common that Facebook tracks how long it takes brands to respond to messages, displaying that information for anyone to see.
Twitter expanded its Direct Message length, which allowed for more detailed support, beyond 140 characters. In addition, users no longer have to follow a brand to send them a private, direct message, whereas before both users had to follow each other in order to do so.
Having a culture that dedicates personnel to identifying, escalating and resolving relationship issues on social media is only expected to become more important. This is true not only for conflict resolution, but for nurturing brand ambassador relationships as well.
3. Community Management
Mid- to large-sized companies usually outsource their social media branding and advertising to an agency, but most are keeping organic content in-house. This means someone inside the company is responsible for the original, unplanned, authentic communication with the social media communities.
Having this dedicated internal resource is ideal because this position can advocate for the customers, fans and followers, while still understanding brand positioning. Investing in community should be a top priority for brands looking to increase loyalty and renew deals. A website or news release can provide information about the company, but only a social media community can show whether this is a brand people want to do business with.
Becoming a social business does not happen overnight. About a year ago, IBM asked its sales and marketing teams to erase the professional/personal borderline and promote its products on their own social media profiles. It started as an opt-in program and ended with over 1,000 staff members “banging down the door” to participate. Not only did sales increase, but the effort won IBM a Viral Marketing Campaign of the Year award. Now that’s a great social economy.