By Mike Lewis, VP of Marketing, Awareness, Inc.
Social media management is fast becoming a core business practice that is in dire need of a comprehensive strategic framework, and corresponding organizational setup, best practices, workflow, infrastructure and measurement.
As a growing space, social media management is still in the process of being defined and reports like Strategy for Managing Social Media Proliferation from the Altimeter Group are the beginning of an industry-wide conversation toward creating common standards to make it an accepted business practice. What this report highlights is the need for a strategic approach and a well-rounded way of analyzing the opportunities in social media for true business impact. The market for social media management is less than two years old and where the space is today is irrelevant. What matters most is where the space is going. We see three key questions our industry still needs to address:
Why does social media need to be managed?
It’s clear that social media needs to be managed but the outcomes of that management are what’s critical. Our industry needs to help the enterprise navigate through the space successfully. The biggest challenge we face today is a lack of clear goals and strategy within the enterprise. Only 43% of the enterprises polled in the Altimeter report state having a formalized strategy roadmap that addresses how social meets specific business goals.
What will drive the maturity in this space?
Social data (social profiling) provides the ability to target your audience, which ultimately drives sales. The revenue conversion component to social media will continue to drive maturity and vendor focus as they build out their platforms. As more organizations discover the social sales potential, the value of the sales funnel will continue to drive advancement of the space.
Why is the space forming so rapidly?
Enterprises use social media tools today as a management solution to help provide greater control over what they publish and how they engage. In many ways this is driven by risk-mitigation — what if employees say something they shouldn’t? What if we get ‘bad’ feedback on the social web? How can we centrally manage our distributed presence across social channels? While the initial interest is driven by risk, enterprises are staring to see the disruptive value of social media to marketing and the impact it will have on CRM and marketing automation.
We live in a new age defined by our customers. Customers tell us what they want and they drive the conversations. It is the relationship era — where companies and vendors partner and co-create new solutions to business problems. We hope collaboration rings true for more brand owners, analysts and vendors. As Andrew Patterson of Major League Baseball, one of our partner clients, shared with us: the key to success with social media is partnering — with your vendors, agencies and your internal stakeholders.