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The link between social and business objectives

6 Dec, 13 | by BMJ

A key theme of the Corporate Social Media Summit (#csmeu) was how social media can help businesses achieve their strategic objectives.

Ian Robin, Director of Strategic Accounts EMEA at Hootsuite said that much of the confusion around linking the two can be traced back to how social media was originally adopted by organisations, usually in a ‘cottage industry’ fashion by individual departments who wanted to create awareness around a campaign. This approach worked to an extent but created variation across companies and without a clear vision of how social can be used in a strategically meaningful way.

To help unravel the confusion, some speakers at #csmeu gave best practice examples as to how approaches to social media have been tied back to clear business goals. Royal Mail uses Twitter to engage directly with and reply to customer complaints or queries. Martha Roberts, Head of Customer Support, explained that not only does this service help solve customers’ problems but also presents the opportunity to develop a rapport between staff and customers. Staff are given the freedom to use a personable tone of voice and this gives the company the opportunity to shine: not only is it a customer service exercise but also a great PR opportunity. As you can see from the photo below this approach has instilled improved consumer confidence. One of Royal Mail’s priorities is to be customer-focused and through this example you can trace it clearly back to what they’re all about.

Another example of social activity clearly aligned with business goals came from Barclaycard. Lucy Wren, Vice-President of Social Media, talked about the challenges she faced trying to translate high level business objectives into social content. Barclaycard’s mission statement is to “help their customers fulfil their ambitions in the right way”. A reasonable goal to have, but what does this look like on a social level and how do you encourage use of your products without appearing too pushy?  In the Mr B campaign of 2012, Barclaycard asked its Facebook followers to submit their stocking filler dilemmas and Mr B would respond with a suitable suggestion under £20, which would be sold by retailers who Barclaycard had an existing partnership with.  By facilitating in this search, Barclaycard were about making Christmas easier, therefore helping customers fulfil their ambitions in a useful and entertaining way.

What was striking about the effective uses of social media presented at #csmeu was how it has been employed in relatively simple but effective ways. Shane McNulty, Strategic Sales Manager from Hootsuite said that “social media is just another way to do what we’ve been doing for many many years”. The way this manifests might look different depending on what type of company you are. Return on investment could be simply a direct increase in sales, or it could be to improve reputation, or to gather more feedback into products and services to improve relevancy.

One of the freebies included in the #csmeu delegate pack was The 80 Rules of Social Media by Jeremy Waite, Head of Social Strategy at Adobe. I’ll let rule two speak for itself:

Whilst companies are still trying to achieve the same end goals, there was also an acknowledgement at #csmeu that the way it is achieved has fundamentally changed. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer “92% of consumers say they trust earned media, such as social media, word of mouth, recommendation from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.” As the examples from Royal Mail and Barclaycard demonstrate, value can be found in helping their customers achieve goals or solve problems. Blanchard says in Social Media ROI: “in a bizarre twist of irony, and despite of this new technology, this is a back to basics approach”, which is fundamentally about how companies relate to and are attuned to users’ and customers’ needs.

by Matthew Billingsley, Digital Engagement Editor at BMJ

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