By admin - July 1st, 2014

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Creating the foundations of a successful social media strategy

Do you know where your customers are? Do you know how to talk to them? These are simple questions that every business should be asking before they embark on the social media journey, and yet so few actually do.

Corporations need clear goals and metrics in order to generate actionable performance insight and one way to measure these goals and their impact, is through a social health index.

While the term ‘social health index’ will show up on Google as a way of assessing the health of a country rather than the social media strategy of an organisation, it can be defined as a way of determining the health of your social strategy when measured against return on investment and integration with your corporate strategy.

“I love the term of ‘social health’ for an organisation,” says Jonny Gifford, research advisor at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), “We need to place more value on our business relationships and how they create value within our business models. These relationships lie at the heart of business, but we usually don’t pay much attention to the way that the organisation understands, develops, manages and assesses them.”

For Gifford, measuring the social health of the organisation systematically will help to create value sustainably and is vital for good governance, specifically within the enterprise social network. Here, an understanding of social health within the business will support the business at both the collective and individual levels and allow for a sense of shared purpose across the organisation.

Of course, measuring social health isn’t just an internal process, it also assesses the impact of the organisation externally and the value that the existing social media strategy adds to the business. In order to create a strategy that is adept at talking to the right audience, in the right language and at the right time, the organisation must define its goals in advance.

The DCD Group is a company that sells manufacturing and engineering components. They’ve tapped into social to create awareness with their existing client pool as well as to develop potential clients and build relationships with their staff. They are using their platforms of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to foster awareness with the goal of turning leads into successful tenders.

“As we are not a consumer-driven company, we define our social media objectives through interaction with our clients and fans,” says Natacha Templeman, Head of Marketing and Communications for DCD Group, “We don’t view social media as sales tools, but rather as a brand awareness partner for our PR, corporate communication, marketing and advertising efforts.”

The business must know what they want from social media, have a plan, understand what market they are targeting and why, what channels they will use, the time and cost investment and the tools to measure the success of it all.

Measurement and metrics

The DCD Group measures the value of social through the quality of the engagement that they have received in the form of Likes, follows, shares, retweets and positive commentary from their market.

Davidson Asset Management has recently implemented a social media policy and their measurement tools are significantly different.

“We realised that there was no need to consider our social health index as we already knew the results would be terrible,” says Euan McTear, Marketing Manager at Davidson Asset Management. “Our story of an abandoned Facebook page with just four Likes was like that of many businesses our size and we realised it was time to get serious about social media.”

The company has worked to ensure that their social goals are as closely linked to their overall goals as possible.

Too often you see businesses trying to do something bold and unique on social media while completely forgetting what their business is all about,” says McTear. “What makes more sense is a top-down approach, keeping in mind the traditional marketing strategies which have proven so successful over the years.”

Annette Morris, owner of LaFranglaise Internet Marketing & Web Solutions, works on the social strategies for number of clients and offers up the metrics by which she measures the success of social business:

  • The most effective platform for the audience
  • The level of audience engagement
  • Increase in followers and inbound traffic statistics to the site
  • Statistics provided by online measurement tools such as Klout and Sumall have proven secondary to real time activity seen across networks and any influence that has on the business

Define the goals and tie these to the measurement tools in order to get an accurate overview of your organisation’s social health. If the driving force behind your social activity is to build brand awareness, then the level of audience engagement on the selected platforms will be key to determining social success. If it is to build internal communication channels and loyalty, then the metrics will be driven by staff engagement on enterprise social channels, productivity and interaction.

McTear utilises data provided by Google Analytics to determine which areas are the most popular and to then take action to make these even more useful to the audience.

“We’ve taken some initiative and started measuring the data that is relevant to our company,” says McTear. “We take concrete actions to make our most popular pages even more helpful and rethink and potentially start from scratch the pages which are the least popular and have high bounce rates.”

In the end

A social health index is not a pretty chart that looks good in the boardroom, it is a tool that will help the business define the goals of their social strategy and provide them with the metrics they need to ensure it stays on track.

“It is vital to know the state of your company’s social health, provided it has one to begin with,” says McTear. “We already knew that our social profile was in a bad state, but once we begin to improve that, then regular social checks are a must.”

Social checks mean social balances and the insight gleaned can be used to ensure performance is adapted to improve the value of the social investment. Know the goals of the organisation. Utilise the metrics that accurately assess how these goals are being met and build a social health index that can highlight any issues and offer up actionable solutions to repair them.

In the second part of this series we will be examining value-driven impact measurement and how to create a transparent means of assessing social efforts against business goals and the bottom line.

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