Summary:

Social media needn’t be an end in itself. It’s one thing to “engage” and “lead thinking”in your social network. But social media really starts having a direct benefit when you can tap into the information it’s providing you and feed it back into your team.

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So, you have a social media presence. Perhaps you even have some tools in place to measure your team’s activity and interactions through social channels.  That’s great! But how can you feed what you learn from social media interactions back into your team’s work effort?

Social media needn’t be an end in itself. It’s one thing to “engage” and “lead thinking” in your social network. But social media really starts having a direct benefit when you can tap into the information it’s providing you and feed it back into your business, and your team.

One way to look at the social media picture is to ask the team members who use and manage your social media presence two basic questions.

What Are Our Contacts Saying?

The ongoing review of what contacts are saying — an essential part of engaging with social media — reveals trends that can be invaluable to your team.

What are contacts are saying about your organization, product quality, service levels, team members, marketing approaches and public presence? Are they happy to engage with you? Are they telling their contacts about you?

This kind of information can be fed directly back into strategy (for example, if customers are complaining about your phone support, perhaps you need to review call center opening hours) and your team’s task lists (if clients have identified a bug that’s not yet documented on your product site, that can be added to a team member’s priority list).

What Aren’t Our Contacts Saying?

This may seem a silly question, but with a little effort, you can identify gaps in your strategy, and opportunities to improve both your offering and your contact relationships.

How do you work out what people aren’t saying about you? Look at your competitors’ engagement with their audiences. What are customers, suppliers and industry players saying to or about peer organizations that they’re not saying about yours — and what does that mean?

Also compare the information you obtained from investigating the first question (what your contacts are saying about you) against your social media goals. If you’re meeting those goals, there won’t be any gaps between what you expect to see in your social media engagements, and what’s actually happening. If there are gaps, you’ll know something’s missing, and further research and discussion are necessary if you’re to lift your game.

Identifying what customers aren’t saying is only half the problem. The other half is your team’s interpretation of what those gaps mean, and the practical approaches you devise to address them.

Making It Work

In large teams, teams where the social media effort involves multiple parties, or teams where the person who looks after social media isn’t a leader or manager, scheduling a regular, focused discussion of these questions is probably ideal.

This kind of semi-formalized approach to feeding the knowledge obtained though social media back into business strategy allows you to understand the value your social media contacts can add to your business. It may also give you the objectivity to consider those findings — and possible responses to them — from a strategic viewpoint.

For example, if a customer complained about product quality, how does this information compare with the broader research you’ve done into customer satisfaction? What processes do you — or could you — have in place to respond to these comments? The same questions could be asked about your most loyal advocates, assuming you want to maintain that position in their minds.

How does your team understand and interpret the qualitative information that social media provides to you? What techniques are you using to feed this information back into business strategy, and/or team member to-do lists?

Image courtesy stock.xchng user DartVader.

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