4 Ways to Stay Relevant as Social Media Go More Mainstream

As social media mature, savvy leaders are realizing that social capabilities create real value for their business.  In fact, many leaders are applying social capabilities to standard business functions, such as customer care, sales, marketing and more.  As a result, they are investing more money and resources into social capabilities, but social media professionals and activities are gradually being subsumed into existing business functions.
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For example, social customer care teams are starting to lose their headcount, as resources shift from pure social customer care into established customer support teams and contact centers — where brands can more easily integrate customer interactions, across all channels. Therefore, if you want to stay relevant as a social media practitioner, you need to do much more than learn the latest social media web sites and tools. You need understand and lead the way as your social capabilities become integral parts of the business functions within your organization.

As my friend Constantin Basturea said:

The ways that companies typically organize — usually around business functions in some way — are not going away; certainly not because of social media. Therefore, whatever has to do with social — a person’s skills or area of expertise, or a company’s governance of social — must align with existing functions of the organization.

This means that social media practitioners need to become smarter about the business functions that could be improved or enhanced by applying capabilities which were once limited to application only in social media. For example:

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  1. Customer Care: If you’ve been spending your days managing customer care in social media, then you need to learn how to use and manage the other channels that your organization uses for customer care. That could be phone, chat, email, virtual agents, etc.
  2. Social CRM: If you only use social media to interact with customers, and your tools do not share data and workflow with your company’s CRM platform then you aren’t really doing CRM. For example, if you are answering customer questions in a social engagement platform, and those interactions are not part of the full customer record in your organization, then you are not really part of the organization’s CRM. Or, if you respond to customers in social media, but, when you do, your responses are not shaped according to the lifetime value of the customer, or the things that your organization knows about the customer from interactions in other channels such as phone and web, then you are not really doing CRM. Instead, You need to learn the bigger CRM platform(s), and start driving your organization to integrate social media interactions and data into that platform, so you can deliver better customers experiences, and greater value for your organization.
  3. Social Media Marketing: Marketers are overwhelmed these days. Few feel that they are able to produce the amount of quality content they would like, or need. The good news is that you don’t have to do it all yourself. Empower employees and partners to engage and create content that resonates with the “people like them” in the audience segments that are critical for your company. Instead of trying to create it all yourself, empower and enable others to do it. Give them guidance, training, digital assets, etc. Evolve from owning and doing to empowering and enabling.
  4. Social Insights and Reporting: People who produce social media reports need to go beyond (1) only using social media tools and (2) only distributing reports in email attachments. First, figure out how to integrate other data from sources inside and outside of the organization. Customer data. Profitability data. And so on. Second, learn some of the tools that have been around since before social media, such as business intelligence and visualization tools. For example, think about learning how to produce dynamic charts that display on mobile devices and let people drill-down into the data, to answer their own questions.

These are only a few examples. Everyone who has specialized in social media for the past few years needs to figure out which functional mother ship they will align their career into. You can’t do social in an isolated silo forever. Best to get ahead of the curve now.

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