As a marketing discipline, social media has reached its challenging teenage years. In terms of strategy, it’s not so young that anything goes. While there are new channels popping up constantly and experimentation is always encouraged, there are established best practices for both B2B and B2C brands. At the same time, it isn’t as seasoned by time as a discipline like traditional public relations.
For most marketers, there are well-respected guidelines about how, where, when and why PR should be brought into the mix. When it comes to social media as a marketing tool, many brands have worked through the awkward junior high years of defining their social identity. Yet while 92-percent of marketers reported in a Social Media Examiner survey that social media is important to their businesses, many are still trying to grow their social media practices into sophisticated, functioning resources of their organizations.
Recently, Meltwater and Forrester hosted a webinar on using social insights to drive business results. In it, researcher and presenter Samantha Nao advocated for investing time and resources into gleaning actionable nuggets from social data. A brand’s entry in the social media world begins when its presence is established on strategically chosen channels and a strategy for activity is defined. But following birth, there is a maturation process from, “Hi! This is our first tweet!” to gathering insights and turning them into business recommendations that can impact operations, customer service, leads and more. Likening the scale to achievements in mobility, Forrester proposes that marketers move along a social intelligence maturity scale from crawling like baby to soaring like Superman.
Here’s how to assess where you’d fit in:
- Crawl Stage – The crawl stage is where it all begins. In this phase, marketers are active on their own social media channels and are monitoring topics related to their businesses. They are listening to social media conversations taking place with them, about them, about competitors and about an industry; but they’re not going beyond that. It’s an awareness phase.
- Walk Stage – In the walk phase, marketers are taking customer insights and validating them through social data. This could mean taking a hypothesis from the sales team about the most important factor in a purchasing decision and using social data to prove or disprove that. The walk phase is similar to market research.
- Run Stage – When you’re ready to run, it’s time to start combining social and traditional customer data through dashboards, scorecards or custom metrics.
- Fly Stage – The business value of social media intelligence really takes flight when an organization has advanced to the point of integration. The flying stage includes integrating social and traditional customer data in the customer database through social listening, appending existing records or collecting social information through opt-ins.
Forrester found that most marketers fall into the crawl or walking phases, while only 6 percent have matured to superhero status. Just like in life, everyone starts out on the floor; but at M/C/C, we are experts in helping our clients run the most sophisticated marketing programs.
These are some of our tips for developing your social marketing maturity and getting the most value from social data.
- Bring other groups outside of marketing in to join the analysis process of social insights. Collaboration between social marketing, customer service and sales teams can be particularly fruitful for B2B businesses. For example, if you are a data center colocation service provider that has the most engagement on content with a financial industry focus, that could serve as a clue for the sales team to pursue financial leads more aggressively or even elevate that effective content to them through a more personal channel such as email.
- Feed recommendations from social insights into real-world operations changes. An example of this could be for a national home auction solution provider who has long established geographic markets flagged as having the highest demand. If a high amount of interest and activity from users in a geographic area that has appeared dormant outside of the engaged social media community, then reconsidering the way properties in that area are organized and presented online could result in a thriving new market and higher number of bids.
- Finally, if you want to fly, the key is to make the match between social user names across multiple platforms with the best corresponding record in your customer database. Remember that only 6 percent of marketers are currently doing this. From here you can really begin to document your customer’s pain points and know what is relevant to them.
Don’t be like Peter Pan. It’s time to grow up in social media, and we’re here to help.