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.