An article on
ZDNet caught my attention recently. It looked at a Gartner report that said 60% of businesses will be monitoring social media by 2015 and asked its panel of CIOs if were they doing so already. The majority answered yes and not just for productivity reasons,
but for security and brand reputation issues. However, it struck me that they are missing the bigger opportunity of enabling social media.
People talk about social media boosting business opportunities, but does the evidence stack up? In the 4th
Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 40% of businesses reported an increase in business through social media; 85% said it had increased their exposure (in a good way) with minimum effort and 72% saw new partnerships
formed. However, the number one question marketeers wanted answering was ‘How do I measure the effect of social media marketing on my business?’.
Which is intriguing. For the report to be accurate (and there is no reason to doubt that it is) a large proportion of respondents must be measuring it already. What I therefore think they are really asking is how social media can be measured in a way that
the board understands and how return on engagement can be proved. As the demand to use social within the enterprise grows, measurement of success is essential in convincing the board and therefore shareholders, that investment in new media is viable and worthwhile.
Tying in social media conversations to specific sales can be tricky, particularly when it’s a long sales cycle or you’re running multiple sales campaigns. But the benefits can be enormous. Most organisations have been using CRM tools such as Salesforce for
some time to track pipelines and provide a central repository of essential customer and prospect information.
Linking this with social data delivers a single view of key contacts, ensuring social conversations can be easily seen in the context of other sales activity. Perhaps they shared your content from a sales campaign about being under insured or responded to
your tweet on the euro crisis. Whatever the reaction, it provides a reason to make contact and increases your understanding of what their concerns are at that particular moment, helping to deepen the relationship.
Adding social directly into the sales process will enable organisations to directly correlate between social activity and sales. Marketeers will be able to see conclusively which campaigns resulted in more engagement, which resulted in increasing followers
and most importantly which resulted in sales. Using this information, not only can campaigns be refined, but concrete figures, rather than loose estimations can be given to the board.
In Gartner’s report, it referred to monitoring employee social media activity as surveillance, an evocative word for something that a is really no more than monitoring to ensure that content complies with company policy or industry regulations. Surveillance
conjures up images of IT admins trawling through social content looking forbidden text or photos, when, let’s face it, most barely have time to complete their own tasks without worrying about what John in sales might be posting on LinkedIn.
While there are concerns surrounding productivity, regulation and brand reputation, businesses need to start thinking of social media being an enabler, not a threat. Organisations that ignore fundamental changes in business models will always lose out to
more agile competitors and those don’t embrace social within the next eighteen months risk losing ground to rival brands.
Integrating social platforms with CRM tools, in conjunction with a solid compliance strategy will allow them to be used in a way that is secure, safe, effective and measurable. As a result, organisations have no excuse for not maximising the opportunity
that social provides and boards can then ask the question “When?” as opposed to “Why?”