Social Media 2017: Attention is shifting

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Look back to look forward

Twenty-four years before Facebook was conceived in the dorm of a Harvard University campus, 1980 saw CompuServe launch the first online live chat service. But for many people, it was AOL (America Online) in 1989 that was the internet before the internet, where members created networks by using searchable profiles – sound familiar? Fast forward to the early 00’s and it’s no surprise then that the first true era of social media was all about community and follower growth.

Next came the era of engagement, where social media practitioners focused on generating the highest number of responses from the communities they’d grown. The currency of the time was “likes, comments, sentiment, shares and retweets”, these were the metrics by which ROI was measured and value perceived. This two-way communication was universally accepted as a true indicator of customer trust and loyalty – and to an extent they were right.

But in 2014 a noticeable shift began to take place. It began in small pockets of activity and was initially only preached by disruptive young thought-leaders. However, this movement soon gathered pace, turning the heads of CMO’s from some of the world’s biggest brands. Now, as we stand on the edge of 2017 we have reached a tipping point, the conversation around social media has changed. Social ROI is now firmly rooted in how it can contribute to core business objectives – and it’s being driven by consumer trends.

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Attention has shifted

It’s no longer just Social Media Managers and Executives that are responsible for social performance and contribution either. In the most progressive and successful organisation, social media now touches every department. Marketing and Communication Managers use it build brands and drive sales, Customer Service Managers use it to deliver exceptional, cost-effective customer experiences and build lifetime loyalty, and PR Managers use it to track and “listen” to coverage, engaging in important conversations and managing their brand online.

This step change in the importance and profile of social media as a key pillar of communication is being driven by rapidly changing consumer trends and digital innovation. With over 2.3 billion active social media users (up 10% on 2015), almost 60% of the population in the UK and US have a social media account, with people spending anywhere up to 3.7 hrs per day on social media – so it’s clear to see why social media is now accepted as being as important as telephone, email and is regarded as internet 2.0.

With consumers now seeing social as the first place to ask a question, lodge a complaint or increasingly make a purchase, leading brands are now turning this previously problematic channel into a positive – driving down the cost of customer service and earning lifetime loyalty. Similarly, Marketing departments are placing compelling content campaigns directly on to the screens of every mobile device and social account of their target demographic, with precision targeting. One-click purchasing and big, bold online brands then make it fast, simple and irresistible for consumers not to buy.

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Time to rethink what success looks like

With social media now required to align with corporate objectives, strategic aims and operational goals, it’s time to rethink what success looks like. Fluffy vanity metrics just won’t cut it with your boss for much longer. Now although this may sound like there’s a whole load more pressure coming your way, if handled strategically it can actually be a huge opportunity.

TrustRadius recently identified measuring ROI and aligning social media to corporate objectives as the top two challenges for social media practitioners. But by choosing to tackle these challenges before they are imposed on you, it means you get to define what social media success looks like for you and your company in 2017 – and the metrics you will be measured against. Once you’ve identified how social media can contribute to core business objectives, and the KPI’s you’re going to measure to assess this – stick to them. Being proactive and building a clear business to take to your boss, and delivering against it, is a proven way to progress your career and credibility.

If your company’s primary goal is sales, then social media can be effectively used to build a community of prospects, or to connect with people outside of your community by using hashtags, forums or targeted advertising. You can then raise awareness around your products’ benefits and case studies, driving traffic to your website and converting them to sales. If your organisation is looking to improve customer experiences and loyalty, then social customer service can be answer queries quickly and effectively in a human and engaging way. It can also be used to drive down response times and the cost to serve. Ultimately, this will raise customer satisfaction ratings and earn you their lifetime loyalty. And if you’re a PR Manager, then social listening can alert you to what’s being said about your brand or topic of interest, both online and offline – ensuring you get involved in important conversations, build relationships with key journalists or influencers and maximise coverage.

Click on the relevant link to find out how the Deltic Group used social media marketing to drive record 282% sales growth, or how the award-winning National Express use social customer service to drive costs down and customer value up.


About the Writer:

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Stuart Banbery is the Marketing Manager at SocialSignIn, he has a background spanning multiple industries and is responsible for all strategic and tactical marketing operations at SocialSignIn. Stuart is passionate about helping organisations harness the power of social media to drive clear business impact. Outside of work Stuart loves outdoor pursuits, travelling and is a keen Triathlon competitor.

If you’d like to connect on LinkedIn click here or follow him on Twitter @StuartBanbery