It’s time to get serious about social media. If you still think this vital customer experience channel is little more than something your kids do on their iPads, then you’ve already lost the race. Put simply, unless you see social media as a critical element of your customers’ experience of your brand, then you’re headed for crisis.
In 2015 we are going to see a fundamental shift in the way smart companies interact with their customers. Why? Because customers no longer interact with brands in the traditional way. Increasingly we see customers using social media to research brands, seek the opinions of others, source better deals and post their thoughts on their brand encounters. And we’re not just talking restaurant reviews. Even CEO’s, CMO’s and CTO’s are taking to Twitter and Linkedin to compare enterprise software solutions, source partnerships and gain insights that help them to grow their businesses.
So what are your plans for social media this year? Tack it onto a marketing campaign via a clever hashtag? Use your Facebook page to direct people to your customer feedback form? Or will you plan a proper strategy encompassing customer service and marketing needs and based on actual data rather than guesswork?
Social media data has never been easier to obtain. The big software companies are falling over themselves to develop social media interaction platforms that deliver ever more powerful insights into brands, customer needs, competitor activities and more. So you don’t have to guess a strategy any more. You can now plan one based on actual data collected from actual customers.
Why is data important for social media planning? For the same reason it’s important for marketing, procurement, accounting and so on. Without data we are merely guessing what the outcome could, and should be. All our planning is based on supposition, rather than reality.
Why should we care if our customers have a better experience of our brand? Because our competitors care, and so do the customers themselves. Brand loyalty is harder and harder to come by, so it’s vital we do whatever it takes to ensure the customer has a good experience of us.
Imagine this scenario: A man looking for a new car Tweets asking his Twitter friends what they think of the new Jeep Grand Cherokee. He gets various replies, plus a reply from his local Jeep dealer offering a test drive and finance deal. Impressed, he takes up the offer, goes for the test drive and buys the car. Unbelievable? Not so. This is exactly what I did recently. How did Jeep know I was looking to buy a new car? They had developed a social media strategy which encompassed monitoring public social media profiles for any mention of their brand or products and then engaging with the potential customer. How did they develop such a strategy? By capturing data via social media relevant to their brand, their industry, target customers and competitors.
I’m not sure what social media monitoring platform Jeep uses, but I do know clever brands are capturing data every single day, in real time, and exploiting it to generate revenue. One such platform which I use personally through my business OBVIAM, is Oracle’s SRM social engagement and publishing platform. While I’m busy doing other things, the platform is monitoring key conversations for opportunities which will benefit my brand. It then alerts me to any such opportunity, and I can automate a message to reach out to the potential customer. I can also use the platform to pre-plan marketing campaigns across multiple social media channels, including Linkedin and Instagram (none of the other social media monitoring platforms allow these two important sites). The campaign can run, delivering results data, while I again attend to other business.
That’s small scale. On a larger scale, big brands are now using such platforms to map out content strategies, marketing campaigns, customer service resource planning and much, much more. We work with some of them on exactly these types of strategies, and increasingly we are seeing good data deliver profitable outcomes for the likes of Philips, Suncorp Bank, HBF Health, Sportsbet and many more.
My challenge to you is to compare the available data sources. Don’t rely on Facebook analytics or some Twitter insights. You need to look at proper social media monitoring platforms. I believe the Oracle SRM is the best of breed, and it’s also highly cost effective. But compare it to Radian6 (a Salesforce product which requires an additional pice of kit called Buddy Media to work as effectively as Oracle’s offering). There’s also Meltwater Buzz, Adobe Social, Hootsuite (for very basic monitoring and not much else) and a handful of others. Each is relatively easy to enable but for best results you should rely on an expert agency (such as OBVIAM *shameless plug*) to do the set-up work and get results from the very beginning.
These platforms also allow you to establish what’s important to your planning. Is it better customer service, or perhaps product development? Or are you looking for sales leads (such as Jeep)? Configuring these platforms to deliver the results you need is the key to successful implementation. Again, Oracle is the easiest and best, ultimately saving you time and set-up costs.
If you don’t believe me, do a Google search and run your own comparisons. Or better still, hit Twitter or Linkedin and ask if anyone else has an experience of the various options available. You might just get a response from one of the vendors themselves …