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Tips for Tying Social Media to Your Organization’s Bottom Line

By Chris Zilles

Too often, businesses think of social media only in very fuzzy terms, without actually drilling down into the specific reasons why they are using it. But companies at the leading edge of social media are taking things one step further. They are building out sophisticated frameworks for understanding how social media can impact not just the business as a whole but also every business unit and every stakeholder within the business.

Social Ecosystems

Perhaps you should consider thinking of the different types of social content within your organization in terms of a “social ecosystem.” This includes your customer communities, your social networks, your social media profiles, and your community platforms. Each of these serves a different underlying purpose. Some of these, for example, might serve as “listening posts” where you can get closer to the voice of the customer. Others might act as platforms for customers to collaborate with fellow users, followers, and fans. They all support each other and work together to build a social ecosystem that can work for the betterment of your business.

The Continuum from Collaboration to Community

You could also view social as providing a vast continuum of value. At one end of the continuum, you have social CRM, which concerns generating insights, analysis, and intelligence about your customers. At the other end of the continuum, you have mass market social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). As you move along the continuum from pure CRM to mass market social media, you start to get more into collaborative social tools. Move even further away, and you begin to get into customer communities and social media platforms that encourage sharing and interaction. Thus, as you move along the spectrum, you will move from insights and intelligence to collaboration, and to community.

Objectives, Goals, Strategies and Tactics (OGST)

A big-picture view of your social ecosystem can help you determine where to put goals and metrics into place for each of the framework’s components. The OGST (Objectives, Goals, Strategies, Tactics) framework could play a large role in this. There needs to be a clear objective and goal for every component of your social ecosystem. And you should be able to back those objectives and goals up with clear strategies and tactics.

The Many Dimensions of Social Media Value

It’s important to be able to think about the various ways in which social media creates value for your organization. Often, each element of your social ecosystem will contribute value in several different ways. For example, some social tools might be best for making direct sales to customers. Others might be good at boosting overall brand awareness. But the same tools used for direct sales can also be used for lead generation, and the same tools used for brand awareness can also be used for customer advocacy.

By thinking about the various components of social media value, it becomes much easier to communicate to management and board members why your organization is investing so much time and resources into social. The goal, of course, is to be able to show how social media is tied into the entire customer lifecycle. This includes the time when the customer first starts investigating your products, the time he or she purchases that product, and the time when he or she starts to form deeper bonds of loyalty with your organization. By using social media, you can ensure not just a happy customer, but also a happy repeat customer.

See how to build a team to drive social media success with “Meet the 7 Elements of a Social Media Team.”

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