Given the wider role ‘Social Intelligence’ is now playing in business, companies are strongly advised to integrate social media and social engagement into their overall business strategy.

Integrating Social Media to Optimise Business Strategy

Global social media monitoring company Synthesio recently published a report on the beneficial impact of ‘Social Intelligence’ on a company’s overall strategy, together with recommendations designed to encourage firms to start making full use of Social Intelligence. The report starts by reminding readers of the crucial importance of listening to customers. However, the Synthesio authors stress that nowadays firms need to go beyond just listening and move to active engagement with consumers. The social listening phase means active monitoring of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr, plus online forums and consumer opinion sites. The basic aim is to gather a large amount of data on consumers, their habits, and how they perceive company marketing campaigns – all of which constitutes a veritable treasure-trove of information to help decide and implement strategy. Social Intelligence should be used to help draw up action plans to promote business and to guide employee behaviour right across the company, the authors advise.

Integrating social media across the organisation

Among the key steps the report recommends companies take, strong emphasis is placed on the need to incorporate social media into company strategy. Once active monitoring and analysis of market trends are under way, the company should then look at the actions it should be taking based on this feedback, especially how to engage with its customers on social media. The firm needs to “develop a strong, enterprise-wide social media policy, create a social engagement playbook, and create a crisis escalation plan,” argue the Synthesio experts. If the strategy is to be carried through effectively, all staff must be involved in the process, they underline. In addition, the report points out how vital it is to create a sense of community among customers. Social media platforms provide an opportunity for brands to dialogue with their customers in a highly personal way. Dialogue very often leads to greater engagement on the part of the online visitor and helps to engender trust, all of which in turn helps to build an appealing brand image. The authors cite as an example the US-owned Chipotle fast food chain. In a bid to turn around the negative image it was suffering from, the brand introduced a “one-on-one engagement approach with its customers." The Chipotle Twitter team responds to all tweets mentioning the company with ″an engaging human tone, and also sign off each tweet with their individual names,” says the report. This has helped to create person-to-person, human interaction between the brand and the consumer.

Converting data into action

Once active listening and data gathering procedures are up and running, Social Intelligence analytical tools will enable a firm to “make sense of the information it has gathered, focus on the relevant data, measure the Return on Investment from its actions, and feed this information into the business strategy,” so as to improve results. The report also underlines that analysing social media is about much more than just counting the number of ‘like’s on Facebook or followers on Twitter. Firms need to be able to measure the impact of social media engagement on their marketing and overall business goals.  By setting clear targets, it becomes easier to actually measure the impact of social media on the business and optimise overall strategy. One of the most commonly used metrics for assessing social media performance is Share of Voice (SOV).  A brand’s SOV represents the number of social media mentions the brand receives compared with its competitors. This basic metric helps the company gauge the effectiveness of its marketing, public relations and advertising efforts on social media.