WHITE PAPER UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT AND ITS COMMERCIAL IMPORTANCE. Create and deploy IT solutions for business

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1 WHITE PAPER UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT AND ITS COMMERCIAL IMPORTANCE Understanding social engagement & its commercial importance - Prodware 1 Create and deploy IT solutions for business

2 Understanding Social Engagement and its Commercial Importance In a socially connected world, engagement with your customers can happen anywhere or anytime. (Microsoft) Social media listening, also known as social media monitoring, is the process of identifying and assessing what is being said about a company, individual, product or brand. (TechTarget) Adding an extra stage to this definition having made that assessment, social engagement involves establishing informed sales and marketing goals and actions. Because social listening is a particularly dynamic form of listening one that, if carried out smartly and thoroughly can truly optimise sales and marketing activity across the entire organisation. WHY ENGAGING VIA SOCIAL MEDIA IS IMPORTANT Whilst social media is not yet thought of as a standalone channel in the purchase cycle, analysis suggests that consumers (both B2B and B2C) use social in their toolkit when shortlisting. Whilst search engines are the first stop for 58 percent of respondents in a survey entitled The Virtuous Circle: the Role of Search and Social Media in the Purchase Pathway, 24 percent visited company sites and 18 percent started with social media. WHAT MAKES SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT SPECIAL? Clearly, comprehensive sales and marketing intelligence requires multiple tools and processes. Social engagement, however, offers some unique qualities all based around that word social. First, social engagement is natural. It provides an insight into customers (both individuals and organisations ) behaviour and opinions away from the structure of a focus group or survey, and embedded in their usual, day-to-day activities. Social media platforms contextualise customers opinions, allowing them to discuss your products and services in relation to how they actually use them or conversely, to discuss topics you might not have realised bear any relation to your offering. Social listening often delivers the most honest, open and detailed market research you will find. Next, social listening is dynamic. We ve briefly mentioned its internal dynamics the fact that effective social listening should be used to directly shape sales and marketing. But social listening s dynamic possibilities can also be directed externally, through direct responses to customers across social media channels. Interactions on social media can be a PR nightmare but they can also spread the good news about your products, services and promotions faster than anything else. They allow your customers to share and swap ideas and information, disseminating messages about you. Finally, engaging via social media is about more than sales. Certainly a great deal of the information gathered through efficient social engagement can be used to shape product development, identify up- or cross-selling opportunities and ultimately increase sales revenue. But social listening continues far beyond a completed sale. It s a way of delivering aftersales care and support, of carrying out competitor analysis to inform future marketing cycles. It s a fresh communication channel for responding to customer queries and a new mechanism for sharing news about your product or brand. Understanding social engagement & its commercial importance - Prodware 2

3 Understanding Social Engagement and its Commercial Importance WHERE DOES SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT MATTER? Social engagement has a role to play at almost every stage of your sales and marketing cycle: PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT Social listening allows you to identify what your customers and potential customers are hungry for. It highlights their issues with the products or services they re currently buying, and tells you what they feel about your current offering. It also highlights real-world scenarios ways in which your customers use your products that you hadn t imagined, or contexts for your services that you hadn t considered. TARGET MARKET IDENTIFICATION AND SEGMENTATION By allowing you to hone in on who is discussing particular topics across different social media channels, social listening empowers real-time, realworld and responsive target market identification and segmentation. Search for key words or phrases and you can seamlessly identify who is talking about what, how different groups of potential customers are similar and different, and where, when and how they like to buy. By listening and engaging with your target market via social media, it also helps you formulate your go to market tactics, what language are they using, what is important to them, what links them together? LEAD IDENTIFICATION When it comes to identifying who is ready to buy now, social media is emerging as a key trigger. Should a current product or service run out, stop working or need upgrading, it s often to social media that people turn. LEAD NURTURING The delicate transition from someone who might buy to someone who will buy needs constant monitoring and management. Because of its natural, real-world context, social listening can be a highly effective, convenient and always-on way of handling this. SALE Can you sell direct through social media channels? If not, why not? Social listening will show you that for many potential customers, the precise moment they re ready to buy is when they re in the middle of a conversation with you or someone else about exactly how much they need that new product or service. CUSTOMER CARE AND SUPPORT Once they ve bought, customers need ongoing technical support and check-ins to ensure everything s as it should be. An excellent example of post-sale service, Nike created a Twitter account dedicated to customer queries and NikeSupport. Nike Support is committed to all aspects of customer service, making it easy for customers to communicate when they have a problem or a question. Nike Support is extremely active, and like other companies with great social media customer service, respond very quickly. When looking Twitter feed, you ll see replies to customers every few minutes. This illustrates to Nike customers they can expect the help they need, when they need it. Social media platforms are some of the most mobile, flexible ways a customer can keep in touch with you, allowing you to respond to problems almost instantaneously if you re listening. Are you? Understanding social engagement & its commercial importance - Prodware 3

4 Understandingyour Social Engagement and its Commercial Importance Re-energising business with Big Data HOW CAN TECHNOLOGY HELP? We can see that social engagement offers unique qualities in the world of sales, marketing and customer service intelligence, and that it has a role to play at almost every stage of the sales and marketing cycle. It s also hugely complex. Because of their dynamic nature, social media channels generate a huge volume of data every second how do you go about sorting through this to find the pertinent information for your business? Chunkier social media platforms like blogs and message boards may be updated less frequently but they tend to feature larger pieces of content so finding the information that matters is still a delicate task. Here, then, is where sophisticated social listening technology is a must. Social listening is often viewed as an arm of customer relationship management (CRM), and, consequently, many CRM platforms include integrated social listening functionality. In some ways, this is positive as Gartner Research put it back in 2008, social networking is a disruptive influence on the CRM market, encouraging more innovation (Metz, 2008). It allows social networking to be treated as a new channel within CRM, one that can enhance and extend the capabilities of CRM by providing new data on your customer view and new ways of reaching customers. Nevertheless, it s vital that social listening functionality is specialised. Here are some elements to consider, examined in the context of Microsoft Social Engagement, one of the most powerful and intuitive tools around: SENTIMENT ANALYSIS VISUAL SNAPSHOTS TRENDS OVER TIME by analysing keywords to determine whether the sentiment is positive, neutral or negative, Microsoft Social Engagement can provide a clear view of the sentiment around a particular product or service, or your overall brand. This is one of the most powerful and critical features of social listening, being able to turn huge quantities of subjective text into a clear, numerical situational overview. given the vast amount of data you re dealing with via social listening, it s vital that your analytical tools can provide an easily digestible, visually attractive overview of trends and activity whenever required. as well as an immediate snapshot, your social enagement tool should be able to display and disseminate trends over time, enabling you to make predictions for the future and marry up particular sentiment trends with business news or wider context. Understanding social engagement & its commercial importance - Prodware 4

5 Understanding Social Engagement and its Commercial Importance HOW CAN TECHNOLOGY HELP? LANGUAGES if you sell anything internationally, your social listening programme should take this into account. Microsoft Social Engagement can track conversations in 19 languages and sentiment natively in five languages this kind of scale and native proficiency is essential if social listening is to provide a thorough overview. GLOBAL SOCIAL MEDIA SITES EARLY WARNING ALERTS SHARE OF VOICE similarly to the point above, if you operate internationally you must consider the social media nuances of different markets, and ensure that your social engagement tools can respond accordingly. Did you know that Orkut is popular in Brazil, for example, or RenRen in China? Does your social listening platform reflect this? social engagement should empower you to gain an early insight on issues that matter to your business, and react to them smoothly and quickly whether complaints about a specific product or service, or wider world context that might affect buying decisions. In Microsoft s words, you need to stay on top of the topics that matter to you. business compare to those of competitors. It s a key element of social listening in relation to the competitor landscape. BRAND ADVOCATES when brands prove that they are willing to communicate with their customers, solve their problems and provide help, they create natural brand advocates. An advocate is someone who will promote a brand without being asked to do so, possibly through positive reviews. Every customer is important, and their experience with your company determines not just whether they will continue to be a loyal customer, but whether they will advocate your brand to their followers. You can identify and engage with brand advocates using the social listening tool. It s also essential that your chosen social engagement tool integrates seamlessly into your CRM or ERP platform. Work with Microsoft Dynamics ERP, Microsoft Dynamics Marketing and/or Microsoft Dynamics CRM and you can get this extensive social listening capability integrated. another visual feature, share of voice graphics allow you to see how the conversations about your Understanding social engagement & its commercial importance - Prodware 5

6 Understanding Social Engagement and its Commercial Importance BEWARE OF CUSTOMER CONTACT FATIGUE Customer contact fatigue is a marketing problem that s only been heightened by the digital age. In a world of marketing, social media, online message boards and forums, marketing is quicker and more convenient than ever before. It s all too easy for customers to be bombarded with overlapping or simply overly frequent messaging leading to dropped subscribers and social media followers, and ultimately decreased sales. Social engagement is a particularly useful tool for tracking customer contact fatigue and nipping it in the bud using the early warning mechanisms outlined above. There s no concrete tipping point that will shift you from being an exciting and engaging business to one that exhausts its customers with too much contact, but there are some general principles you can follow to avoid such a scenario: Clever social listening can help empower both principles. Engaging via social media is a fantastically effective way of identifying the personal insights and trends that can help inform truly personalised marketing. And, as we ve outlined, the best social listening tools integrate totally with your business s CRM system, ensuring complete visibility at all corners of the company HOW CAN YOU TAKE THE NEXT STEPS TO ENGAGING VIA SOCIAL MEDIA? Prodware is a Microsoft Gold Partner and an expert advisor and implementer of smart social listening systems. We can help you with an initial Social Engagement sentiment analysis report to bring the solution to life. Contact us today if you re ready to turn insights into action! Always focus on generating engaging and tailored content, so that regardless of messaging volume, each recipient feels they ve received a bespoke approach. Ensure that everything you do send is centrally managed and visible to all corners of the business in other words, use a single, unified marketing management platform. Understanding social engagement & its commercial importance - Prodware 6

7 Prodware s global coverage Prodware Offices UK - 30/07/15 Global alliance and partner network UK Information : +44 (0) International Information : +33 (0) Prodware (UK) Limited Prodware House, Waterfold Business Park, Bury, Lancashire, BL9 7BR - Understanding social engagement & its commercial importance - Prodware 7

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