Once an organization starts listening to and begins engaging in the social world in a meaningful way, then the many benefits of becoming a social business can be fully be explored. And exploration is the right word for it, because the amount of unknowns about how to best go about taking advantage of our profound, scalable, and real-time connection to the marketplace via social media often considerably outweighs the knowns, at first.
Over the last couple of years, as an industry, we’ve been developing a good sense of the necessary pieces that organizations large and small must put into place to effectively engage in social media. The list really isn’t that long for the most important elements, even if obtaining the resources and establishing the imperative sometimes seems like the hardest part. These elements are:
Listening. Virtually all companies today must establish a social business intelligence capability to tap into and understand their conversational context at any given time. And as they engage in activities like social marketing or support, their listening capabilities must be able to isolate the effects that their efforts are having and be able to attribute performance to individual actors and their contributions. A good number of companies have now done this to some degree.
Engagement. By harnessing internal and external advocates, companies can co-create outcomes that they could never accomplish by themselves. The profound and needle-moving results of social marketing efforts like Doritos Crash The Superbowl or Procter & Gamble’s famous Old Spice campaign came through mass engagement with the marketplace. Companies today must become highly competent at cultivating and orchestrating their millions of advocates in joint partnerships to move towards and achieve shared goals. I’ve discussed the vital shift towards engagement over the past year as it’s evident that this skill is both largely underdeveloped and becoming essential to survive and become a next-generation business. Many companies are just starting to seriously mobilize around this capability.
Optimization. The future of engagement is what that is both data-driven and people-driven. It also requires closing the loop on strategic and tactical plans, which must change based on what you learn about your ongoing engagement with the marketplace. Too many organizations continue on an inexorable trajectory that was set in the past, rather than course correcting their plans and activities based on reality. Using today’s powerful methods to monitor, measure, analyze, and derive insight, which only social media can uniquely deliver in an open and transparent way, we can rapidly adapt in a highly agile way in order to ensure our desired outcomes are achieved. In fact, it’s the only way to ensure we get past the unknowns mentioned above, and figure out what really works. This is where companies are generally weakest, yet it holds the potential to capture the larger share of the possible opportunity.
So, we do have some good news: Many organizations have now established listening programs and are tuning them up. They’re also starting to build out much more systematic and effective engagement programs as well. It’s encouraging to see that the industry is now growing up and we’re putting into place the elements that will make social media in the enterprise much more effective than it already is.
However, we still have some work to do. What we still see that’s fairly lacking is the ability to optimize well.
So to help with that, I’d like to enumerate the most common social engagement optimization strategies that we see. These are particularly effective for social media marketing, but also across the entire gamut of engagement. Please keep in mind, these are ways of changing what you’re doing to focus on the desired result that you’re seeking to elicit. These might be looking at different numbers, trying out different engagement methods, or creating new vehicles or venues for mass participation that are aimed at changing the data that you see in a more desirable direction. By doing this, we can considerably amplify the value that we’re co-creating and generate the kinds of significant ROI that we want to see as we become social businesses. It’s not going too far to say, that without an effective optimization loop, our social engagement efforts can leave most of the value on the floor.
Of course, this is only a start on optimization strategies, but it’s a good one and certainly there are additional lessons we’ll learn in the coming years as companies ramp up fully-fledged new engagement cycles (see Nestle’s social business insights story on Reuters recently for a powerful example of this.) I’d be interested in hearing about your optimization strategies below in comments as well.
We’ve made an extensive investment in strategic social business engagement capabilities so that our clients have the best tools at hand to achieve competitive advantage and realize value as rapidly as possible. To learn more about these, just get in touch for a 1-on-1 conversation.