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We’ve seen a real shift this year in the understanding of how social media can be integrated within consumer-facing organisations.

The conversation has moved on from ‘how do we get involved in social media’ to ‘which areas of the business do consumers expect to interact with us over social channels?’

Social marketing has evolved, brands have a clear focus on ROI, and the debate is altogether more sophisticated.

Consumers don’t care how a business is structured. If a customer contacts a business on its website, Facebook page, Twitter feed or call centre, it expects the same level of service and response, regardless of the contact channel.

They want quick a response from the brand, whether that’s approving a review, answering a customer query, providing information or fulfilling a competition prize. 

As a result, social media agencies are changing the way they work with brands. Brands are turning to agencies for help in two distinct areas:

Devising a social strategy and setting the approach which best supports the business needs

This means defining the goals that social media can support, what role social channels should play across the business, how to use social channels to gain insight to your customers (and how to act on this insight) and training on how to engage with the community; and programmes for measuring success.

Create tailored campaigns to support the strategic approach.

These might include game development, apps, community builds, bespoke platform campaigns, Facebook engagement tactics, and social asset development. Social commodities, if you will.

What’s crucial for brands though, is that any campaign activity, or standalone social activity, must still fit into the wider marketing and social engagement strategy, this is still the only way for any business to successfully embrace social and to develop meaningful ROI from the activity.  

You can’t outsource your customer service to a social agency; however you can outsource the development of a bespoke customer community. As the market develops, it’s not enough just to be a thinker in social media.

You have to be a practitioner, across all relevant business functions, in order to meet the needs of your customers, otherwise they will go elsewhere.

Steve Richards

Published 27 July, 2011 by Steve Richards

Steve Richards is MD of social media agency Yomego and a contributor to Econsultancy.

31 more posts from this author

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Steven @ Gravytrain

Social media has come on leaps and bounds with facebook, twitter, linkedin and now, of course, Google+, amongst others. More and more businesses are adopting it into their marketing strategy as they realise the importance and rewards that come with well planned social media campaigns.

over 5 years ago

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Andrew Allsop

What about tapping and making use of the data? MIT where able to predict purchase decisions 4 times that of a random guess using social network data.

over 5 years ago

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Rene Power

Interesting piece but isn't social media evolving almost daily? I'm not convinced the L-plates are even close to coming off or that most businesses have established what success looks like. Some trail-blazing b2c brands may have ways of quantifying ROI, but as it comes from outputs and/or outcomes, the later of which is much harder to achieve, I'm not so sure the majority have.

over 5 years ago

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Karen Fiddes

It is true to say that most businesses know very little about the true power of social media when planned and executed effectively. I believe that as responsible professionals, we should ensure that all clients are strategising for maximum return. The value in this is as crucial as the implementation. The strategic direction of social media activity musy be clearly defined with goals set, monitored and reviewed. Metrics are also key but without strategic direction, there are in theory no defined goals and as such metrics and results have little or no meaning.

over 5 years ago

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Jonny Rosemont, Managing Director at Rosemont Communications Limited

I think the training point is a crucial one. Brands need to make sense of their opportunities in the social media space and ensure that they are adhering to best practices, and agencies are often better at keeping abreast of the latest opportunities in social media. Ultimately agencies can provide an impartial view and can support in-house teams in a capacity that is appropriate to that individual business. We're finding an increased requirement for this.

over 5 years ago

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Angelina Foster

Once organisations have decided what they want their social media tool to represent, whether it's to display information or interact with customers, staff should follow set guidelines (e.g. response times)and also monitor social network usage and interactions. Staff should also review the activity, which can enable them to improve their strategy and help them adapt to any changes.

When I went to the online marketing show, someone said "Agencies should be the eyes and ears of the company, not their mouths".

over 5 years ago

Steve Richards

Steve Richards, MD at Yomego

Thanks for the comments.

I agree that there's an increasing demand for training and I'd underline the need for this to be an ongoing process, refreshed quarterly as things change so quickly.

With respect to ROI, Rene, there's an interesting piece in PR Week (8th July) about how PR agencies are looking for an alternative to Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE) which encompasses coverage and comment in social channels. My view is that, unless social KPIs are aligned with existing measures of effectiveness, they can be largely irrelevant.

over 5 years ago

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wctube

Interesting piece but isn't social media evolving almost daily? I'm not convinced the L-plates are even close to coming off or that most businesses have established what success looks like. Some trail-blazing b2c brands may have ways of quantifying ROI, but as it comes from outputs and/or outcomes, the later of which is much harder to achieve, I'm not so sure the majority have..

over 5 years ago

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