Our first instalment is an interview with Ben Nimmo, Co-founder and CTO of SocialSignIn
Ben believes that companies have been wasting their time on social media, and that he has observed many busy marketing and customer service managers who don’t take the time to step-back, and first develop an effective social media strategy.
He explains further that he has studied the efforts that numerous brands have made to embed social media into core business process. He believes most of them misunderstand its roles, and are instead running after the trends, to make sure they are doing social media – to not be left behind.
“Organisations feel pressured into being active on social media just because the competition is active. This will ultimately result in a lot of wasted time and resources “
The one constant that he has seen, regardless of sector, is that the business which remained media neutral to begin with, and then aligned its core business objectives to the role of social media, are the ones that leveraged the biggest impact and ROI.
Ben shared two approaches to make social media truly strategic, and how to elevate the discussion to a boardroom level.
The elusive, but much sought after 360-degree view of the customer is only possible by breaking down silos that exist between departments and pockets of data. Social media can play a key role in this. Whether you are an international retail brand, or a county council, joining up data from each of your touchpoints will help you understand your customers and how and why they want to interact with you.
You can use social media to learn what your customers are saying about your brand and issues relating to it, you can even reach out to ask deeper question or to proactively provide advice and resources. The other option you have is to integrate social media with your wider CRM processes and systems – your agents can respond in a much more effective way if they have visibility over all of a customer’s previous interactions with you.
Align – then measure ROI
What are the core business objectives your organisation is currently focusing on?
Is it to drive down customer service costs?
Is it to hit ambitious growth targets?
Is it to create awareness around your brand?
By aligning your social media activity to these wider goals, rather than just jumping in and tweeting, you will make social media truly strategic in your organisation.
The next critical step is to identify the KPI’s that tell you if your social strategy is working. If it’s sales, then you will want to track all online purchases that began with someone clicking on a link in a post that sent them to your website – even if it’s offline sales you can still track someone that sent you an online enquiry which began with them clicking on a social post.
If you’re looking to start driving down customer service costs, then you need to start measuring how many enquiries you receive by social, email, telephone etc, and how the promotion of your social customer service channel is shifting customers to contact you via social, rather than by traditional telephone or email. You can even start to calculate your cost to serve per channel and how much you are saving your organisation by moving enquiries to digital.
The days of social media success being defined by likes, retweets and followers are gone. This level of ROI reporting will allow you to produce some cold, hard numbers that you can take to the board and demonstrate the impact your social activity has had on key business objectives. It will also help you to build the business case for further budget and investment in your area.
Elevating social media to boardroom-level discussions has historically been a tricky task, but with the emergence of ROI tracking technology and some clear goal setting it’s now very simple to show the true value of these channels to your stakeholders.
National Express implemented a channel-shift strategy that redirected 28% of their inbound communications to digital, saving the organisation over £200,000.
My take-away from sitting down with Ben is, whenever you can make social media more strategic and demonstrate clear business impact, you can be more successful getting the stakeholder to ‘buy-in’. But you need to put a strong case forward with evidenced based results – something a lot of businesses have struggled to articulate with social.
In what level is your organisation now regarding social media? Do you think it is already a strategic component of your core business objective?