Most businesses enter the social media landscape thinking it will lead to endless likes, shares, followers, satisfied customers and limitless new sales. This is hardly a surprise given its low-to-no cost for entry with the immediate connectivity to endless potential customers. But most companies fall apart in two areas:  (1) their inability to integrate social into their business culture and  (2) the inability to demonstrate the ROI from social efforts.

We know successful companies are social but simply being active in social media does not equate to running a social business.  It must start with the company itself; the culture and communications.

So how does changing your social strategy from simply pushing out content to running a social business equate to profitability?

Let’s start with a stat. According to Fast Company, 88% of 750 surveyed marketing professionals didn’t feel they could accurately measure the effectiveness of their social media campaigns, and 52% said that dealing with social media ROI was their biggest frustration.

As you know, the ultimate goal of any business is improving profitability.  Accordingly all money spent on growing the business must do just that, including social media.

Re-engineer your social strategy

Let’s for a moment examine why you need to relook at your current social strategy. There are several compelling reasons why you should reconsider and further evolve your social strategy into the infrastructure of the organization in order to become a true social business.

An idea hub Social media and online and mobile platforms are allowing for conversations and information sharing in unprecedented ways. And information and idea sharing has become critical for a business’s current and future success. Re-engineering your company’s current approach can actually reinvigorate your business, bringing new ideas to the forefront and involving underutilized internal resources which leads to…you guessed it: measurable results. You can think of it as your very own “Good to Great” idea lab that you can percolate in your organization.

Attract fresh talent, re-engage current talent The incoming and subsequent workforces are social and expect the workplace to be collaborative. Allowing various disciplines within your organization to be part of the social tapestry can actually reinvigorate your social strategy while at the same time, help to foster a better work environment.

Every social business looks different, but here are a few steps that businesses can adopt to make their organization more engaged in the social sphere.

  • Have a Vision Have a company vision that connects social goals with overall goals. Evaluate your current social strategies and decide what parts are valuable/invaluable.
    • Encourage collaboration Implement a corporate mindset of collaboration. Ensure all participants are trained and prepared for a social environment.
    • Streamline the process Design a faster information flow. How many people need to be involved in internal reviews of content? Make sure the right people are in place to implement. Commit infrastructure and tools to support fluid communication.

It’s important to underscore that creating a social business requires guidelines which are critical for all involved, helping the flow of information and response process. Without filtering and guidelines, people can actually feel overwhelmed or you may suffer from an organizational paralysis where no-one contributes because no one in the organization is clear where to start.

Tying your efforts of becoming a social business to ROI or true measurement. First, you have to define a few things before you can measure the effectiveness of your social media efforts.

Define your social strategy as part of your overall business strategy.  This means understanding the measurable objectives of social media for your overarching business goals before you start. Is your organization pushing to sell to millennials this year? Assign this project to a millennial in your organization so they can research and develop content targeted to this audience. Is your renter’s policy more profitable than ever? Ensure that you have content that speaks directly to this unique audience. Then when it comes time to measure return on social efforts you can very easily look at metrics like the following in this case

  • Engagement in content (measures interest)
  • New followers within the desired targeted audience (in these examples, millennials and renters)
  • New policies sold to millennials
  • New renters polices

Integrating your social efforts seamlessly into your overall business objectives ensures your social strategy is inherently measurable.

Encourage an environment of collaboration As previously mentioned, successful businesses are constantly innovating and evolving. Implement a corporate mindset of collaboration under the mantra that no idea is a bad idea. Joe in accounting might feel an article on how to pay your bill online is of benefit to your current insureds. Doing so may result in a few more online bill pay signups or even help those with questions understand the process better. Ensure all participants in your new ‘social business culture’ are trained to think of any potential topic or idea as fodder for your organization’s social environment. Maybe even think about incentivizing employees to participate. A company we worked with here at TLF actually initiated a points strategy with their employees and those with those most social points at the end of a quarter received rewards and recognition. Awards were also given to the most “shared” and “liked” content.

With a little planning, and a well thought through launch strategy within your organization you can actually evolve your company’s current social strategy from a tactical marketing initiative and take it to the next level – a social business culture. By following some of the steps outlined here you can very clearly start to tie your social goals to your business goals and recognize a true ROI from this new approach. At the same time, doing so can help to energize and reinvigorate your organization.