In a recent tweet, Customer Service Author and Thought Leader, Shep Hyken wrote: “In social engagement, be careful about being too promotional. You risk a customer disconnecting from you.”
I took this as a matter of fact, as I do with most of what Shep says, and the more I dug into it, the more it rang true. If there is one thing that Social Media is not, it is not a PR mouthpiece or public relations channel, and now more than ever – when the signal to noise ratio seems to be getting lower – brands can find their voice by being authentic, transparent, and relevant.
In a recent report titled: “Customer Centricity: A Time to Listen, A Time to Engage” by Hypatia Research, the research team posits:
“What makes social media conversation truly actionable?” Through their research speaking with 100’s of professionals at global companies, they found that organizations should take a balanced approach to enterprise social business.
“Know when to listen, know when to analyze, know how to influence, and when to act and engage.”
Easier said than done, right? But this ‘knowing’ is critical to affecting a positive customer engagement.
Substantial proof has been presented to show that social media banter has influenced metrics as visible as stock prices. MIT researchers and others have performed analysis to that affect. And as evidenced by recent research conducted at Palo Alto Labs: Predicting the Future with Social Media:
“We show that a simple model built from the rate at which tweets are created about particular topics can outperform market-based predictors. We further demonstrate how sentiments extracted from Twitter can be further utilized to improve the forecasting power of social media.”
According to Hypatia’s ‘Customer Centricity’ enterprise social business study – with 500 companies of all sizes and from various global geographies all of which use social media analytical tools – professionals revealed the business benefits of those social media analytics. Some of the key benchmarks were brand promotion, reach and influence. And the top social metrics utilized for brand promotion, reach and influence were:
• Brand sentiment or campaign impact: positive, neutral, mixed or negative with historical analysis
• Capture of customer information such as product likes, design suggestions, merchandising feedback
• Propensity to recommend brand, product or service: Influence or Klout Reports
• Share of voice by time-frame or (SOV) by historical analysis to be of high importance
• Customer Activation: Follows, tweets, likes, community or forum joins
In conclusion, there is a tangible return on investment for using social media to become more customer-centric. The media influence, the cost avoidance possibilities, and risk management can secure your social team it’s predominant position in winning the hearts and minds of your customers and advocates – being neither overly promotional, nor disconnected. But there is a cultural investment needed as well as some financial skin-in the-game.
Or in the words of researchers at Hypatia: “Ideally, social leverage for media, brand and risk professionals should be operationalized (i.e. create a closed-loop feedback process) and simultaneously focus on outreach, analysis, influence and intelligence gathering.” To get the full analysis, check out Chapter 2 of Hypatia’s ‘Customer Centricity’ on Social for Brand Reputation on the image below and create the ROI you’d like to see for your company.