Far too much social business advice is crap. It’s not that the advice, best practices and top 5 lists are wrong. It’s just that, too often, they’re not terribly helpful. Consequently, businesses questioning whether or how to get in on the social business trend end up disenchanted. A recent UMass and Dartmouth study of social media in Fortune 500 companies found a plateau in adoption.
- Only 23% of the 2011 F500 have corporate public-facing blogs.
- Only 62% use Twitter
- Only 58% use of Facebook.
Where is the business value in Social Business?
Putting the Business into Social Business
Too many social business practices have become virtual trade-show booths; lots of splash, some give-aways, a bit of conversation and not much else. When is the last time your organization closed a major deal in your trade show booth? When is the last time your Jr. Marketing Associate staffing the booth solved a pressing customer issue? When is the last time you did more than scan or gather business cards? The answer is probably never.
Gather and sort the names and emails from those fans and followers.
Simply amassing huge numbers of likes and followers is pointless if those names aren’t going anywhere. The first order of business is to organize them into lists. Start simple. Customers and prospects. If you’re not positive the email belongs to an existing customer, they’re a prospect. You need a good combination of business savvy and social media savvy here to weed out the bots and spam tweeters.
Tag those names!
If a Twitter follower re-tweeted something , note it. That is good business intelligence about that customer or prospect’s interest.
Sort, Research & Conquer.
If your Facebook page has 100 or 1,000,000 likes, you have the ability to see the information of each person who liked you. Yep, it’s going to take some work – that’s part of business. And there are programs to help you parse all those likes. But get into it. Group employees, partners, influencers and organizations. Those employees who like your Facebook Page or who have added you to a Google+ circle are the vanguard of your marketing front line – even if they don’t work for marketing. Those partners who liked you represent the leading edge of connected business. They are ripe for joint Go-To-Market planning. Get those names to your BizDev team. They need to follow up immediately. Those influencers have jobs. If your business is B2B, those organizations should be your next target. Tailor your offers to their line of business and then make the offer! If your business is B2C then those are your most connected customer base. Give them a reason to talk about you and use your product or service. More specific ideas on that below.
Immediately escalate complaints and problems.
This is why ongoing monitoring is so important. According to Michael Brito’s recent article on customer twitter expectations if customers are tweeting about problems to a company, they expect a response. The business impact here is two-fold: 1) get a response back to the customer so that they know you’re out there listing. But don’t stop there! Get out and fix the issue. Address the root cause of the problem or request and close the loop with the customer! If a customer is having technical problems direct them to your help system and have a human reach out to them. Make sure your support desk has SLAs that compress response times for social media inquiries! If a customer is looking for answers get them a link or a click-to-call number. Even if the link doesn’t contain the exact answer they need, getting it back to them lets them know that you’ve put them on the path to a solution and are willing to walk with them all the way there.
B2B? Follow up with a message and a phone call!
If your CRM system is not tied in with your social media team make it happen! It is important to note that CRM is not the same as customer engagement. But the two must be aware of each other! Get names and contact information from those fans and followers to your sales team! Have marketing or inside sales invite those folks to schedule a deep dive web meeting with you. Those fans and followers have expressed an intention: they like what you said or offered. Why leave them hanging?
B2C? Deliver something remarkable; exclusive content or a perk!
Your goal is to drive sales right? So if you make delicious jams and jellies, get your fans a coupon. You already print these in every weekly flyer so do a little leg work and get an electronic version of that coupon delivered directly to your Fan’s Facebook wall, or email it or direct message it to that Re-Tweeter. Yes, national print distribution of your coupons is probably managed in a different group. That is why this is work! But the benefits are huge. Remember, those people are the active ones. Do you think they might mention it if they got a coupon for your product messaged directly to them? Don’t do coupons – try exclusive content. Think of it as the DVD “extras” about your business. Grab that HD video camera and take a tour of your manufacturing facility or office or bottling plant – anything that is behind the scenes. Upload it to a private YouTube channel and distribute the private link to only those fans and followers who have liked that product or service! Think they might talk about it to their connections and further evangelize your service? You bet. If you can afford it, deliver a perk to them. People love free and they love stuff. Spend some of that trade show schwag budget on hand-delivering fun stuff to your best fans and followers. I’m not talking cheap pens here folks. But you don’t have to break the bank either. Your executives probably spend some time on the road. Find one or two customers from the geography where your executives are having their next “business productivity meeting” and have an ad-hoc meet-up. Meet the boss at the retail location. Or deliver a “thanks for being an awesome customer” card with balloons on a doorstep. It is an amazing way to add serendipity and personality to the brand. Don’t forget to film it! Think they might tell others about how cool you are? You bet!
These are just some of the ideas that you can start using today to close the loop with your social business strategy.
Followers Require Follow-Up
Remember Social Media can only generate ROI if you are actually closing the revenue loop. This means making or saving money. If you’re spending money on staff and steadily gaining fans and followers but not doing anything but hoping it helps then you’re wasting your time. If there is no business process impact, if there is no SLA, if there is no end-state identified on your social media connection flow chart you aren’t a social business. You’re merely social.
Creative Commons: Attribution. Image via Flicker User: everywhereisimagined