When social media grew up

Precise Brand Insight - When social media grew upI recently attended the first in this year’s CIPR Social Summer series of talks, given by Mindshare’s Head of Social Strategy Jed Hallam.

The theme of Jed’s talk was “When social media grew up”, which he is well placed to discuss having written “The Social Media Manifesto”. In the book he makes a compelling case for every department in a business to embrace the opportunities social media offers.

Jed points out that because social media had “flattened out” communication, every department and every person in your organisation is responsible for communicating your brand and its values to the outside world.

He also used social network analysis to demonstrate how many contact points a brand may have with its customers, arguing that brands are (to an extent) dead:

Your people are your brand, and the conversations that they have with their wider networks are how brand perceptions are built.”

He argued that everyone within an organisation is responsible for brand perception and communications, making clear that every department can benefit from using social as both an outbound communications channel and also as a way to understand customers more deeply:

Make things people want, don’t make people want things.”

Jed made a particularly strong case for market research and consumer insight professionals to use social media based research to understand what their customers think about their own products and services, and their competitors. He argued that social media research should be used to understand unprompted consumer opinions and what they really want to buy.

The benefit of using social media as a two-way communication channel to improve direct customer experience was also highlighted. Jed cited the experience of a client that he worked on to implement a social media-enabled customer services team, who said that “in the time that it takes to answer five customer service telephone calls, you can deal with fifty through social media. And they’re stored forever on Google“.

With changes to Google’s algorithm and the advent of Google Plus, search results increasingly take their cues from social media, and a widely shared negative customer experience could act as a long-standing black-mark.

With regard to customer service, Jed said that companies “should always listen, but don’t always act“. O2 was cited as the gold standard in this regard.

Jed also touched on the thorny question of ROI, and talked about how you can measure social media. Jed made the point that you should “measure what matters, not what you can measure“. This is exactly how we approach measurement for our clients, whether it’s from traditional or social media: what is the outcome you’re looking for, and how can we measure the communications’ effect on this?

Jed is a strong advocate of using search and Google analytics to help identify the effect for brands, and it’s a point we’ve made to a number of clients recently. As business results are increasingly digital events, whether it’s for companies wanting to drive online inquiries or sales, or charities seeking to increase online donations or sign-ups, it makes sense to use Google analytics as a tool to measure the impact of communications. Measuring and benchmarking organic search can be a very simple way of demonstrating increased awareness of a brand during a campaign, for example.

With regard to the thorny question of who ‘owns’ social media, Jed argued for a central centre of excellent, and “hub and spoke” model, which has a central, cross-functional team responsible for social media: feeding out the different services required by different departments to meet their different needs.

I would encourage you to read Jed’s presentation here: http://www.slideshare.net/CIPRPaul/cipr-6-junejedhallam

And you can buy his excellent book, “The Social Media Manifesto”, here: http://amzn.to/13YkV77