Social Enterprise Collaboration Tools Bring Social Business to Life!

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Social networks for business help enterprises effectively collaborate across departments, offices and countries. These tools give employees a sense of online community and help forge connections between different parts of the business and your customers.

Some business leaders still have a hard time understanding the benefits of the social business. Organizations that have tried to make their businesses social often find that after embracing the technology initially, employees’ enthusiasm soon dies down and only a handful of workers continue to use the technology.

So, how can businesses develop a long-term social business strategy? Brian Solis and Charlene Li do a profound job of describing the success factors of social business strategy. I absolutely agree with Solis that the expectations of your connected customers and employees, and how you improve connections, conversations, and experiences will all be deciding factors of how you grow your business and increase the value of the brand.

Setting goals and roles

Social tools have evolved well beyond Facebook and Twitter, over just a few short years. We now have an opportunity to use socially-driven collaboration tools in new ways to change the way we work. You need to set your goals based on your company objectives and assign roles. Some great collaboration tools are enterprise social networking, cloud team collaboration, online communities that all enable multiple levels of sharing with external and internal members of the business. Enterprises that don’t embrace these technologies could very well risk becoming irrelevant. Your business model will always be under threat from a smarter, nimbler competitor with a new idea or a better use of technology. If you don’t want to end up like your local taxi firm you need to start collaborating with your partners, staff and customers to create innovative new ideas to stay on top.

Customer service

According to Computerworld’s 2015 Forecast Study, social networking, alongside predictive analytics, will be one of the most disruptive business technologies over the next three to five years. For many organizations, that disruption is already underway.

For those businesses that are already have a social enterprise strategy, it’s not simply about providing employees with the means to interact with each other more effectively and many interactions with customers could be improved by the use of social tools. Effectively channeling social collaboration through your socially enabled cloud infrastructure is a great way to engage with and get real time response with both your internal and external customer base.

Social media is rapidly becoming the main interaction point for customer service and external communication in the more open industries. Don’t get me wrong, content is still king, social media is just rapidly taking on a new level of interaction. In this more interactive and collaborative social world, customers now deserve more dynamic and engaging interaction.

Mandating that employees use social tools is one way to ensure new technologies are utilized, but as Solis alludes to above people will often get side-tracked unless the social aspect of business is firmly engrained in it’s culture.

The best way to bring culture of sharing is by collaborating across the organization. This is all made much easier by the accessibility and connectivity of a cloud infrastructure combined with open communication that good social tools or the right enterprise social network can bring. Your business needs to open culture and leadership in order to holistically make the cloud, social and mobile technology work effectively.

Business must understand what they’re trying to achieve before they set off on the journey, and be committed to making cultural changes to the way they work. If you are not a business that offers social collaboration, your customers may force your hand and insist you rapidly change your approach. New modern devices are getting more advanced every day, always-on mobility and the way your data is consumed proves social collaboration isn’t the ideal, it’s the new norm and if you do not jump on board you will get left behind.

Image Credit: OneDesk

Small Business Social Media Tips

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Social media may be the last thing on your mind after a long day of managing employees, interacting with customers, ordering inventory and keeping track of your finances. But it’s an important tool that can help you market your small business and engage with customers.

Social media marketing has proven it’s here to stay, has sustainable ROI and companies are finding ways to accurately measure their success. If you engage in social media marketing wisely, it will be your most cost-effective marketing tool. I think social media is largely defined by its ability to enable a new form of word of mouth. For small businesses, social media enables them to embrace this new power of word of mouth marketing and use it to build a powerful bond with their audience. Here are some simple ways small businesses can optimize their social media presence.

Set goals and benchmarks

It is important to clarify your company’s strategy and goals, so that you know what you are working towards. Your goals don’t have to be extensive; you can aim to increase your number of followers or engagement with customers, or to get sales leads directly through social media. Set clear benchmarks before you start any online marketing campaign and throughout, in order to have a clear measure of success.

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Optimize your website

Your social media accounts should focus on driving users to your website, so it is very important to have a website that reflects your brand and is up to date with your most current content, products, services, etc. Make sure all of your social media accounts include a link to your website and vice versa. I like to use a website as a social media hub, that links all of their social media platforms together. It is important to identify your target keywords. Optimize your content great for your community and search engines. Use Google Suggest and Google Adwords to identify the right keywords to use blog posts, and be sure to optimize all of your social media platforms for search engine optimization (SEO).

Share content

Social media is about more than just selling your products and services; it’s a chance to engage with your customers and establish your business as an industry expert. Sharing content – whether it’s original articles, aggregated articles, photos or videos – is a great way to engage with your customers.

People are also looking for something authentic. They want to know the real you. If you’re business is a hotel, for example, share information about hotels that’s not directly related to your business. If you own a sports store, tweet about and to the athletes your business is affiliated with. If you own a bakery, post Instagram photos of your staff frosting cupcakes behind the scenes.

I strongly recommend sharing before selling. Sharing other industry leaders content at a ratio of four to one before you promote your business is a good place to start. This will also encourage other thought leaders to share your content. You are now ready to effectively launch your small business social media. Good luck and be sure to contact us with any questions.

Image Credit: WireWalkers

Top Social Media Trends in 2015

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If we had only two or three big social networks out there, the jobs of marketers and social media managers would be a lot easier. The digital landscape is growing exponentially everyday though. The challenges brands thus face involve a bigger, yet scattered audience; more diverse, yet fragmented social platforms; and an ever more competitive environment with impressive marketing efforts, such as Airbnb’s innovative Hollywood & Vines campaign and the highly successful #ShareACoke campaign and took it to another level with Diet Coke’s stroke of packaging genius at the end of 2014.

A recent study states that one quarter of the world’s population uses social media. This means that 1,730,000,000 people are posting, pinning, tweeting, vining and instagraming. Brands have to be have social media evangelists on hand to keep them up-to-date with the latest developments and strategically investing resources into the trends that are likely to stick around. Here are a few of the top social media trends I see trending in the next year or two.

 Scommerce

The first successful steps to push forward more sophisticated Scommerce were seen in 2014, for example with the introduction of Twitter Product Cards and innovative campaigns on Pinterest, such as Nordstrom’s extraordinary multi-channel campaign, creating a consistent customer experience across email, social and offline. Most recently and particularly exciting for ecommerce brands are developments for network-driven sales, a crucial category of Scommerce. We saw increased efforts to simplify the social network-driven buying process for online shoppers with both Twitter and Facebook pioneering the testing of “Buy” CTA buttons. Allowing users to purchase on networking sites is a no-brainer, considering for example Twitter’s liability to their shareholders and the massive growth of social media and ecommerce. A holistic co-operation of both industries yields huge potential for marketers. The perks? Another streamlined sales channel. The danger? Social media is about customer engagement and building genuine relationships and this goes agains all those rules.

Integrated social advertising

The social advertising trend from 2014, which saw Snapchat’s first ad, video ads on Instagram, auto-play video ads on Facebook and a greater variety of Twitter cards, will continue in 2015. In addition to new and enhanced social advertising channels, I also expect to see exciting new ways of firmly integrating social advertising with brands’ data bases and omnichannel strategies for sophisticated and contextual targeting. If you build your social advertising on rich and accurate behavioural data stemming from website, email, apps etc., and if you closely interlink it with your other channels, you open the door to the Cockaigne of social advertising with endless opportunities, from reactivation campaigns by serving ads to inactive or bouncing email contacts, to automating social retargeting and retention campaigns based on previous actions of your target audience. And bear in mind, the better integrated with your other marketing resources, the more relevant and tailored your social advertising will be and the less users will feel commercialized.

 The revolution of mobile

More effectively than any other channel mobile lets brands create (and take advantage of existing) compelling micro moments at different stages of the purchase journey, be it through SMS, push notifications or in-app product recommendations. With technological progress in terms of geofencing and geotargeting retailers should put mobile and owned mobile apps at the core of their marketing activities reaching their customers with timely and highly contextual messages on a one-to-one basis. Considering a worldwide mobile penetration of 93%, major social networks are constantly improving their mobile presence. Social websites and apps being among the most used features on mobile, 2015 will inevitably see optimised web and social media sites becoming the norm and geo-targeted, contextualised real-time content an indispensable component in every digital marketing strategy.

 Social video

Instavid, Vine, Snapchat, Hyperlapse – social video is up and coming holding two major benefits for brands. First, audio-visual storytelling is emotionally compelling so share your story and display your products with beautifully crafted messages. Secondly, vloggers and micro-vloggers are a great way of getting your message in front of your audience. But don’t collaborate with influencers only, common users produce a lot of content on new platforms such as Vine and Instagram – tap into this productivity and make user generated content part of your marketing strategy.

Picture Credit: LinkedIn

Social Media in the Palm of Your Hand!

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Top brands are still figuring out that there is more to success online than simply getting people to follow you on Twitter. One of the things I love about social media is that there still is not a playbook that you can use to know everything about social media. Brands need to find unexpected and imaginative ways to get their target audiences to engage.  Only the top campaigns will holistically take on a life of their own in social media.

These top brands will have very differentiated outlooks on social media. They will give their audience something unique that they can’t get elsewhere and give them a reason to share it. Brands have to understand that everybody portrays social media differently, there is no right way of doing it, but internally it all should be the same. Something as simple as the same #hashtag structure or as complex as your defined target audience for your ad buys can be detrimental to your success.  If you get those things right, you can achieve amazing return on investment.

Content is without a doubt still king and the key is making your content easy to share. It is gets harder every day for brands to stand out in social media. The industry is over saturated and it can be difficult to stay focused and make certain your brand has a social media voice of it’s own. But a social media campaign with the correct mixture of creativity and relevance can create lasting engagement with audiences at a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing.

Adapt or Die: Social Branding in the Digital Darwinism Age

By, Golden Ashby, SFAMA Director of Social Media
& Kathryn Prescott, SFAMA LinkedIn Manager

Social Media is all anybody talks about these days. But many organizations fall short of fully capitalizing on the opportunities that exist within social. Perhaps this is because they are approaching the execution of social marketing with the same expectations they have for traditional marketing, or maybe they don’t really understand their customer’s needs and wants. Social media is changing every aspect of how consumers behave. As business leaders and marketing professionals, we need to understand these changes, adapt, or become irrelevant.

The San Francisco Chapter of the American Marketing association (SFAMA) was lucky enough to have had the passionate and engaging Brian Solis come speak to our members last week. Brian is a world-renowned blogger (ranking among the top 1% of all blogs tracked by Technorati), award winning author and new media thought leader. He studies and influences the effects of emerging media on business, marketing, and culture. Brain is also a principal analyst at the Altimeter Group, a leading research based consulting firm where he puts these ideas to practice.

Brian discussed how “each layer of the complex consumer revolution that is changing the future of business, media, and culture” in relation to his now book, The End of Business As Usual. Everybody in the room was in awe of Brian’s deep understanding of how digital connectivity affects the ever changing world of business.

The message that stood out most to us was when Brian stated, “social media isn’t owned by marketing, but instead the entire organization, and this changes everything”. You can see more of Brian’s top quotes from that night here. Social media is often siloed within marketing, customer service, or human resources. Brian suggests that just one department should not own social media, but instead, social media should act as the bridge between all departments. When consumers think about your company they do not see silos, departments and teams; they see one brand, one experience. Social media changes how consumers behave and interact with your brand. Consumers now dictate the channels used to engage with a brand, both online and offline. The new role of social media allows brands to help customers, fans, and influencers share a brand’s products and the “ideas” that bond us with them. It is time for brands to move beyond the question of whether or not to participate in social media and define the social media optimization strategies they will use to build their community.

As marketing professionals and business leaders we must go beyond social strategy. Organizations must take account for customer needs, challenges, and options in order to build a holistic strategy around these needs. All communications must have the same message: the website, customer service, social media, marketing, etc. There are many metrics you can use to measure your social media success. Yet people are still asking where’s the ROI? This is often times a path towards a #fail. What’s possible for ROI is different for every brand. By design, businesses are optimized to collaborate in the matrix. Before we can innovate externally, we have to innovate internally.

The difference between a social brand and a social business is very simple. “While creating a social brand is a necessary endeavor, building a social business is an investment.” Here are a few more of our favorite takeaways from Brian’s presentation:

• You should have a vision, mission, and purpose for your social media strategy.
• Create a social media foundation to deliver an integrated brand experience.
• Align social media with internal business objectives.
• Social media helps brands evolve and brings the offline and online worlds together.
• When it comes to social, think like a customer. Help internal teams better understand who they’re trying to reach and what moves them. Bridge the consumer gap.
• Connected customers see the world differently, uniting the online and offline worlds.
• Remember: once a purchase is made, it’s often broadcasted via social media. Consumers continue   to share their experience, good, and bad, and it contribute to the future decisions of others.”

Perhaps the greatest take-away from Brian’s talk was that Social Media is here to stay and we will never go back to the way things were before. “Adapt or Die”

We hope you enjoyed this once-in-a-lifetime event and if you missed it you found this article beneficial as you embark upon your new social journey. The San Francisco chapter of the American Marketing Association is always here to help you down whatever path you may embark. Do you have any thoughts or questions you would like to share?

Picture credit: Brian Solis