There is no doubt that social media has changed the way in which people interact with organisational brands, and yet many companies still lag behind when it comes to developing a coherent strategy in regard to social technologies. In a recent report, Forrester, an independent research company, highlighted that one in five businesses do not use social technologies at all, and a third of all companies are still getting off the ground.
Organisations can, however, change this trend and reach an active level of social maturity, in relatively little time, if the proper steps are taken, says Forrester.
1. Invest in acquiring necessary resources
People need to recognise the value that social media has in regard to building their business; subsequently, they need to invest in the development and acquisition of new skills. Employees need to be trained, not only in how to operate new technology, but also how to manage the conversations which are generated from them. Organisations should be willing to spend time familiarising current employees and management with relevant technologies, as well as recruiting new members of staff that can advise and co-ordinate matters relating to social technologies.
2. Plan and organise your social strategies
For those businesses which have no effective strategies in place, it’s important not to overburden your staff and management. Don’t be overzealous in your approach; instead, concentrate on developing one simple application to help launch your campaign. Then, once you’ve had the opportunity to analyse its strengths and weaknesses, you will have an idea on how to proceed with a more advanced social media strategy. However, those companies which already have simple strategies in place should aim to centralise their approach to help co-ordinate their overall objectives.
More importantly, they also need to realise that social media is not just about communicating without outside stakeholders; it’s also an effective tool for communicating and collaborating internally as well. Once this has been realised and effective plans are created to help facilitate internal collaboration, organisations should then look to re-distribute control back to employees so that relevant groups are able to integrate specific media into their day-to-day activities.
3. Measure your success
This is usually where most companies flounder when scaling the ladder to social maturity, says the Forrester report. In order to achieve true social maturity, you have to be able to measure your success; and this doesn’t mean having a vast array of followers or mentions. While it’s important to have popularity, true success is measured by your ROI. Companies need to be able to measure how effective social campaigns are in conjunction with existing marketing metrics, such as the reach of paid media. This is where investing in new methods of analysis can pay enormous dividends as companies are able to map direct financial success to specific social trends found in conversations and brand exposure.
4. Think long-term
In a startling survey, conducted in 2010, Forrester found that only 39% of large companies had any long-term plans for social media marketing in place. Managers need to start committing themselves, not only to integrating social technology into their day-to-day activities, but also into the overall vision and long-term marketing strategies for the organisation. It becomes increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to adopt social media successfully if it is not developed as a long-term marketing tactic for social maturity.
5. Don’t love it, live it
While management should concentrate on initiating long-term goals for social technologies and marketing strategies, this should be complimented by developing a culture of social media use. The use of social technologies should become second-nature to employees. Instead of being viewed as an added benefit to the marketing strategy, social media should become the normal tool for facilitating the day-to-day activities of all company employees and stakeholders. Only once this has been achieved, says Forrester, can a company boast true social maturity.
Author | Sandra Pitcher
Sandra is a techno-geek who is generally excited by anything with buttons, touch screens or flashing lights. Currently, she is a contract lecturer at both the University of KwaZulu-Natal (Pietermaritzburg) and Varsity College, specialising in social media, journalism and ethics, while simultaneously trying to grapple with a PhD... More