At what scale does Social Business make sense?
Social Business seems to be the trend (according to Deloitte and MIT/Sloan, anyway). I can see the effectiveness and I believe in the data. But at what scale does it start making sense?
With scale, I mean the number of customers you serve every day. This does not necessarily new customers, but the number of customers who have some type of interaction with you daily.
I mean "Social Business" - not social media strategy. For example, KLM listens to about 30,000 messages about KLM daily to quickly make adjustments and announcements to address issues. The Red Cross scans for words like "Tornado" to respond over social media with specific instructions and guidance.
So this is not about posting content - rather, it's about listening and then responding. It's also about using social media to understand how people are thinking, both about your product, your company, or your industry.
In this context, when does it start making sense? If I only get one mention a month, but I actually get 20-30 new customers a month, I feel I can't use social business models to cage sentiment. How many more "mentions" over my actual daily customer load do I need before listening to social signals and transforming into a social business makes sense? That's what I mean by scale.
The Deloitte and MIT/Sloan (http://sloanreview.mit.edu/big-ideas/social-business/) premise of social business implies research materials and management innovation in this emerging segment.
At its core, there is a fundamental revenue model the must support the research and management innovation. In context of your meaning for scale and the market place, practical metrics applied that test the social business hypothesis, in my view, is the entry to answering the question of customer segments, engagement type, interaction methods in addition to the mission or cause around which the premise is built.
Today social business is coupled with social impact which is often confused with the phrase 'change the world'. As an example if a bottled water company has a mission to provide clean drinking water to an arid country and the cause is to reach thirsty masses, manufacturing, production and operations costs are prime factors in evaluating the long term impact and profitability of undertaking the cause.
In the process of delivering the project as awareness rises in the market, the bottled water company could receive offers of partnership or venture to expand the reach of both the bottle water company and the partner/venture.
Therein is your discussion about scale because the metrics are available to measure and forecast future revenue from the effort.
In my experience with Social Business there is a pre- established set of criteria around which scale takes place when a benchmark is reached.
To keep it simple if the corporate target is hypothetically 150,000 yet 400,000 exceed the initial target then the question of scale not only matters but the default contingency planned well in advance is triggered.
But to even discuss scale is an outgrowth of pre-planning with predetermined benchmarks on audience/customer size. At least that has been my experience.
Hope this is useful.
You ask a very specific question - "how many more mentions over actual daily customer load". And you state 20-30 new customers a month. Statistically you need about 30 data items to draw conclusions - so if you sample per month the answer is 1:1 and if you sample per day it is 30:1.
But perhaps this question is not the most helpful one - more useful would be at this level of new customer growth what is the best way of gauging customer thoughts.
To focus on the core question you have which is how many more mentions do you need before you start listening to social signals, is somewhat corelated to the type of business you have and the size of market and online exposure. What type of business are you in? The online presence of your brand affects customer engagement and therefore creates an open channel for communication which allows you to gauge sentiments and really benefit from social listening.
When I first read this I had to read it twice. You know all business is social. Every buyer or potential buyer communicates with others. In retail it helps to visit stores and see how the management is working with customers. If there is a complaint others hear about the problem that this service or that product had and the lack of good customer service. If you are an entrepreneur, it's about each customer. For companies obviously customer service on the phone has deteriorated over the years. But the computer telephone systems are getting better. They still have a way to go.
Look at the communication theory of AIDA. It's about the level of Awareness>Interest (in the potential buyer)>Desire or wants (of the buyer or potential buyer and ultimately look at Action. Did the communication result into Action such as a web visit and purchase, to store purchase, to a telephone call or chat on line. Think about using AIDA or the Nine P's of Marketing to solve problems and look for new ideas.
Good luck. Trying to help.
From the start. It's always a 2-way communication.
I recommend reading YouTility by Jay Baer.
Here's a link to in on Amazon.
The word "Social" implies interaction. On the business-owner's side, from the way you describe your understanding, what you are referring to is known as "feedback". There are 2 sides to a transaction or engagement. There are a few things I'd like to share with you on how we deal with feedback:
1. Every instance of feedback is considered a valuable reference point. We collate these data and categorize accordingly. Using frequency distribution, we can determine how often the type of feedback is received.
2. Take note of ratios specifically between the number of customers you generate and the type of feedback you receive.
3. If the frequency of a type of feedback is on the high side, do a survey. We would apply the survey on a random sampling of customers to gauge their sentiment to the client's product or service. We've had clients where through the survey, we found out echoed the feedback but chose to keep silent. So the frequency distribution was actually understated.
4. As an interaction, you have to engage in order to get detailed information on the feedback.
5. We make sure each and every client we handle has a customized "Process Improvement" system in place where the team discusses data, feedback, statistics and reports at the start and end of the week, end of the month and at the end of the business quarter. We don't expect to make any changes on the system, product or service but it keeps everyone on the same page as far as progress is concerned.
It's not realistic for business owners to expect "love" from 100% of their customers so it's not advisable to act on every instance of feedback. But having a tracking system is effective in determining if the feedback has relevance.
Social Business is basically the new term for ROI when it comes to Web Marketing. There are many tools available for searching and understanding sentiment within your Business. Depending on what type of business you have determining sentiment can be an extremely important part of business, politically, big business...
If this part of your business is crucial you should be engaging with a company that specializes in online and potentially offline content, mentions, and sentiment.
As for developing a Business ROI that is an entirely different kettle of fish. The management tools available and content required for ROI are available and time consuming. Getting it right takes the experts, many people spend too much time sending out advertising, sales, deals... this is the fastest way to be blocked from someones email and social networks. If you want more information on this you can check out my book - 1 2 3 Social Media Field Guide. www.mediamaverix.ca "store"
Social business are great ways to help making purpose and benefits tangible and understandable for those involved. They also result in know-how and lessons that can be used by the whole business for future projects. And it helps you get buy-in for a larger deployment of larger or other social business projects.
Obviously, pilot projects are not always a good idea. The value of pilot projects depends, among others, on:
your business culture
the type of social business project (social collaboration, marketing, HR, etc.)
whether the project can scale
people that need to be reached to draw representative conclusions and achieve the desired benefits.
So, the size of the company and representative nature of the team plays a role too. If a social business pilot project works this doesn't mean that all lessons are learned, let alone can be applied to a broader context.
However, often pilot projects will rise key issues when properly planned and conducted, certainly from a cultural, human and organizational viewpoint. It’s exactly the possibility to look (again) at your business (processes) that is often overlooked in all types of digital and social projects. The scope of the project needs to be in tune with the long-term intentions but in practice the degree of buy-in is seldom broad enough in initial stages where deploying to broad does more harm than good. If you have a clear consensus with a smaller team and scope for a pilot, larger buy-in will follow in case of success. In reality, pilots will even lead to awareness among executives, who see possibilities they didn't before and start wanting more and broader projects.
Social Media is a platform for sharing knowledge and information. If your information holds credibility, then you will committed audience.
I do not have a scale as such but make sure that I do some sort of knowledge/info sharing on daily basis. That makes your presence intact.
Interesting question for sure, Gratus.
Social media activity can be designed to accomplish several things germane to most businesses.
A small start-up would probably utilize Social Media to create Buzz and attract prospects, convert to customers and establish solid relationships. So they would invest time for that purpose and design all content with that end goal.
A growing business woudl use Social Media again to attract likely prospects using quality and helpful content, but also Focus on Customer Service and repeat business.
A seasoned successful Business would be using Social media to continue to hold market position, look for NEW solutions to their existing Base Needs and probably place MOST emphasis on retention and service.
I feel the scale is irrelevant.
Properly executed Social Media Strategies will assuredly build a NUMBER of customer to provide the results desired.
Chicken and egg argument?
Think of Social Media as a tool to get your business word of mouth, in the most basic form. You mention you get 20-30 new customers a month. Are you capturing their information be it email, address, possible way to text.
Gratus, whatever business you are in, capture the information for whatever in the future. That is the key to get the information for the future and for now as well. Keep in contact and build the relationship to do business, no matter what you are doing.
That is where the potential 'gold' is, not only now but in the future.
My name is Jason Smith. I am the CEO of Quality Ink, and one of the things that we will help our clients with is social media Branding and execution. We do this through designing original content that these clients can use to market themselves effectively. From Logo Design to Content Posts. There are a plethora of tasteful and creative marketing based themes that can be used to deliver a message appropriate ensuring that it is received causing the potential client or customer to take action and engage with you.
Most Social Business marketing attempts lack the creative zest that people are looking for. Or they do not possess the subtle call to actions tones that customer recognizes. Call to actions are also misconstrued as well. This doesn't mean tell people in mass to call now and get this thing-a-magig 10% off. That will turn people off and give the essence of a 3am infomercial. This is not to say that having competitive strategic promotions is a bad idea because it is most definitely not. We encourage this, but there are ways of doing it. This shouldn't be the focal point of the business model.
Social Marketing is more about getting the exposure. and knowing your target market. For example:
Quality Ink Primarily deals with other businesses. Placing them into a solid position to get there printing materials and custom designs at lower cost that is more on target with today's economy versus 20 years ago. This promotes a long lasting maintainable business relationship / Partnership than before. Our Quality is extremely high with an affordable price tag that not only will on average save you money, but get you noticed.
Knowing your business through in through helps create a strong social presence. The most important part of any marketing campaign and social marketing is no different. Patience and dedication. You can not expect to solidly reap the rewards of your efforts as long as everything has been done correctly for at least 90-180 days. It takes time to get people to noticed you. Even more time to get people to accept you. And lastly, more time for people to feel comfortable with you.
So outside of the science and strategy, Let get into some numbers so that we can hopefully help to grasp the weight of the daunting Mount Everest sized concept that you seek to understand.
You have to have a rather functional social profile in every major media that exists today. Known or unknown, if your target customer is using it. You should be as well. So if you are trying to become a social business, I want to let you know that it works for some based on their industry. But this is not ideal for everyone. Sure it helps the monthly gross, but should never be the only place in which you earn your business. On the other hand, here in lies a basic break down of how to manage some numbers on the topic:
Social Media Profiles owned: 8
Total number of organic viewers per month: 200,000
Total number of Good service Mentions: 6000
Total daily business generated: 20
Total projected annual gross based on a average sale of $27: 129,600
That in itself isn't a bad year for a start-up company. But to become a true social business. These totals have to be supremely higher than this. Here in lies the work dedication, and the use of a solid team that can market your image to the masses to generate a buzz with your name on it.
I hope that I was able to help you figure out a little about what you are asking. Unfortunately, without more specifics. There are only so many things that I can factually answer that are true for your business. There are a lot of people out there that want to sell you on the fact that steps A-Z get X results. The ONLY way to achieve this is through CUSTOM Marketing using Social Media as your Vehicle.
In short, scale don't really play a role in when you should use social business. Using your example even if your only mentioned once a month you are going to want to know about it and respond. So having the tools in place to react when someone does mention your business is always one step ahead of the game. Of course you won't want to spend any money on tools of that nature when the numbers are that low but you definitely want to react. When the numbers start getting too great to handle on your own that is the time to seek assistance from tools and or hiring someone to handle it. I hope that helps :) Cheers and good luck!