One of the themes that keeps recurring in our social media projects for our clients is that social media is no longer simply about public relations, customer engagement and marketing - it today touches nearly every element of the business from product development to human resources to customer service.
Sure, responding to customer complaints and queries is important, as is leveraging social media for lead generation and product marketing, but social media is also a superb source of business intelligence that can empower middle and top managers to make better operational and strategic decisions.
Learn from customers
From the millions of social conversations consumers have each day, organisations can learn much about how customers perceive their products and services; find out how they could improve their offering; learn about their competitors' strengths and weaknesses in the eyes of the consumer; and identify the influencers in their industry.
What's more, they can pick up market rumours about their business and react proactively to them; get early warning of issues such as product failures or long holding times at their call centres; and track how the business is performing compared to a range of customer-focused metrics.
The challenge is, of course, keeping on top of the vast volume of social conversations that take place every day, identifying those that are relevant to the business, and uncovering the trends in these conversations in a way that provides strategic insight. In addition, there is also a need to find a way to take action of the social conversations that call for intervention.
This is where a social media listening command centre could have an invaluable role to play for larger companies that are trying to stay on top of huge social volumes. Such a structure and the underlying tools helps organisations to scale their social listening and response efforts, and provide a wealth of consolidated data that can be shared with anyone in the organisation.
Using a command centre in conjunction with robust social media response tools, organisations can get a view of the social pulse of their business in real time. This may include management level information that can feed intelligence to support decision-making around crisis management, brand management, or competitive intelligence. Many of the world's leading social brands such as Dell, Phillips and Nestle are using such listening posts to build customer relationships and proactively monitor their brands in real time. They are able to understand the volume of conversations and the overall sentiment of the conversation and get product and brand scorecards.
They can understand the recent trends on conversation volume, overall sentiment and share of voice with their competition and industry. But they can also drill deeper to see who the key influencers about their brand are and to see who is talking about the brand and what are they saying.
Take Cisco as one example. Cisco gets more than 5000 social mentions a day and roughly 3% of those are actionable-staying on top of the volumes without automation would be near impossible. Using the Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Cisco's CRM initiative focuses on using social intelligence to make data driven decisions.
The command centre allows Cisco to scale social across the enterprise to create a connected organisation that can move quickly and nimbly, as well as get closer to their customers. In less than five months since implementing their command centre they have realised a 281% return on investment representing an average annual benefit of USD $1,596,292.
More and more large companies worldwide are taking a similarly proactive approach, using their command centre as more than a problem solving machine, but also using it to identify discussions throughout the web and to give useful social tools to their employees throughout the globe.
Gordon Geldenhuys heads up the Online Reputation Management division of Acceleration Media, a strategic digital media consultancy and Radian6 Authorised Reseller. He is responsible for developing online reputation management strategies and facilitating the licensing of Radian6 to companies in South Africa.
Gordon has worked in the digital environment for the past six years with experience in online marketing, search, social marketing and analytics.
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