THE PROBLEM: "Competition is eating away at our market share... and using social media to do it."
THE SOLUTION: Recalibrate your social media plan. Interview your customers and prospects to learn which social media channels are most important to them and why. Conduct in-depth interviews to learn exactly what kind of value and information they expect from you...a cross multiple channels. Use the voice of customer insights to craft a new, multichannel customer engagement strategy.
It's true: Ignoring or minimizing the importance of social media now carries major competitive risks. Today's consumers not only demand that the companies they buy from offer them easy access through multiple channels... but they also expect companies to keep track of all their interactions across multiple channels! That expectation definitely includes social media exchanges.
In addition, an organization's highest-value customers interact with the enterprise through more than one channel. That applies to social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter as well.
Today, offering customers multichannel access using these and other social media tools is not merely a trendy add-on to a single campaign, but a long-term strategic imperative for the whole enterprise. A recent study conducted by BtoB magazine found that 93% of all business to business marketers are now "engaged to some extent" in social media marketing campaigns.
Major takeaways from this and related recent research include:
- LinkedIn is a major lead generator in the B to B segment. At this stage, it should be considered an important part of any B to B channel mix.
- Facebook is the next most popular business-to-business social media channel, despite its emphasis on connections with friends and family. This is largely because of its potential strength in the area of branding.
- Despite wide use, Twitter has serious limitations, including a perception by many of "spamminess."
- Customer communities and targeted message boards can yield major competitive insights -- as well as invaluable first-hand feedback about your target audience's messaging, value, and channel preferences.
Use feedback from in-depth (60-minute or longer) VOC interviews to identify which of the "big three" social media networks (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) your customers prefer for communication with your company... and why.
Learn exactly what kind of access, updates, and value customers expect to receive through these channels. Build the best suggestions into a brand new social media plan.
Be sure, while you are conducting VOC interviews, to also learn how customers want to engage with you across the broader multichannel mix, of which social media are one important element.
Get fresh VOC feedback on a quarterly basis (at least) on how your execution of this plan is being received by customers.
Ernan Roman is President of the marketing consultancy, Ernan Roman Direct Marketing.
Recognized as the industry pioneer who created three transformational methodologies: Integrated Direct Marketing, Opt-In Marketing, and Voice of Customer Relationship Research.
Clients include Microsoft, NBC Universal, Disney, Hewlett-Packard and IBM.
Ernan was named to "B to B's Who's Who" as one of the "100 most influential people" in Business Marketing by Crain's B to B Magazine.
His fourth and latest book on marketing best practices is titled: Voice of the Customer Marketing: A Proven 5-Step Process to Create Customers Who Care, Spend, and Stay.
Ernan is also the co-author of "Opt-In Marketing: Increase Sales Exponentially with Consensual Marketing" and author of "Integrated Direct Marketing: The Cutting Edge Strategy for Synchronizing Advertising, Direct Mail, Telemarketing and Field Sales."