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How do I get Social ROI from my investments? Does this question keep you up at night? You are not alone! There is a way of approaching your social media journey through understanding the steps needed to become a mature social business. However, there are a few things that can be done even if you are just getting started.

1. You can start by listening:

Your business is subject to social conversation whether you are listening or not. So why not tap into the conversations that are already happening to get familiar with the topics and the tone.

2. Then you can begin to engage:

Once you understand the topics discussed you have the opportunities to participate in that discussion in a very deliberate and thoughtful way. These simple steps get you on the way of becoming a more mature social business.

How can we get from the beginning steps to achieving measurable business results? Some investments are needed, of course.

3. Listening is just the beginning:

The challenge is that when businesses make investments into any kind of listening or monitoring tools, many tend to stop here and think the job is done. Far from it. It takes time to recognize the various social media sources where meaningful conversations are happening as well as aggregating and making sense of them in a consistent manner. It’s not only ok but really necessary to devote some time to fine tuning the data as well as the data feeds, i.e. which social channels to listen to.

4. Analyzing sentiment:

Ideally, the next step will be to start doing some kind of sentiment analysis; asking whether people on the social channels are talking in a positive, neutral of negative manner about you. As companies begin to track social media sentiment, they get a taste of the power of social media to influence decision making, like buying decisions. They typically track customer sentiment based on a particular social media channel (Twitter, Facebook, etc…), or by topic, such as a product, service, or business interest or activity. This type of analysis allows companies to engage with detractors and ravers alike.

While sentiment analysis provides companies with information that can influence decision-making, engagement involves a set of programs that are designed to influence key audiences as well as generate additional information about them. Creating a brand presence on social media sites, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, and building social communities is essential to accomplishing both goals.

It’s also important to engage other internal and external stakeholders, such as boards, partners, and industry associations. To support these efforts, companies begin the regular development of social content, including Tweets, Facebook posts, and blogs. During the engagement phase companies typically develop key performance indicators (KPIs) and dashboards to track social media effectiveness.

5. Analysis leads to quality interactions on social:

Many companies see a significant leap in the value of their social media investment as they progress through the customer care phase. Focus is on increasing customer interaction through social outreach. Many companies invest in creating an array of customer care content, such as extended FAQs, how-to videos, and direct-through-social troubleshooting. The benefit of socializing customer care is that the interaction at this level produces an abundance of information that can be used to improve customer care processes and product design.

During the next phase, companies focus on increasing the ROI from their social media investment through a variety of means. Thanks to all the activities developed in the earlier phases, companies can now begin to use social media as an early warning system for product and customer issues based on measuring campaign effectiveness, customer feedback, and brand reputation. Social media analysis and engagement also produce an abundance of exploitable competitive intelligence while supporting more creative and nuanced product ideation.

During the final stage of social media maturity, companies fully integrate social media into their marketing processes, including lead generation, promotions, and content curation. They also develop specific programs for social selling, such as linking social media profiles with your CRM leads.

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Many companies still perceive social media as a new and chaotic environment full of significant risks to reputation. But as Dell and many other companies have found, by understanding and progressing steadily through each stage of maturity, there is a tremendous business upside with very little downside.


About the author

image001Shree Dandekar has been at Dell for the past 14 years in a number of roles covering software design, product development, enterprise marketing and technology strategy. Currently, he is Director, Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing Strategy responsible for developing and driving the strategy for Dell’s Business Intelligence & Data Warehousing solutions.

Shree has obtained a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pune, India; he also holds master’s degrees in Management Information Systems from Texas Tech University, in Computer Science from Texas State University and an Executive MBA from the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin.

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