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Scaling Social Media Programs to Maximize Value: What Procurement Professionals Need to Know

Until recently, individuals more than organizations have found value in social media. It's time, though, for organizations to start to leverage these tools to do better business, from the C-suite through the business unit.

Social channels, particularly Facebook and Twitter, have become customers' preferred contact points to laud and lambast companies. Consumers also cite social media as being one of the most trustworthy sources of information: Seventy percent of global online consumers always or sometimes take action on consumer opinions posted online, second only to recommendations from people they know. And social media has become the dominant venue for those recommendations as well.

However, when content is viewed out of context and can't be tended to on a 24/7 basis, companies — particularly Fortune 500 companies — suffer from poor brand image and even legal woes. Many major product categories come with regulatory or compliance needs, such as financial services and pharmaceuticals, and require around-the-clock management with a consistent workflow.

At the same time, Fortune 500 companies often approach social media with disjointed efforts. This includes implementing social media first and setting goals and strategy later, as well as a lack of coordination across the social channels, an ad hoc workflow, and over-relying on software tools. The end result is waste, duplication of efforts, and unmanageable social media channels.

How can procurement professionals find efficiency and value on a global scale without sacrificing the customer experience while meeting the needs of each brand and region and avoiding the wrath of regulators?

Fortunately, scaled moderation programs exist that combine cutting-edge technology with the quality of human review to complement the time and tasks of internal teams while ensuring that brands prosper in a social environment and adhere to even the strictest of regulations. These services provide the most value to brands, scale cost effectively, and limit liability.

What to look for to maximize value for the brand and enterprise
At this point, most companies are ready to ask for help. When looking for a partner to streamline digital and social programs and moderate channels, consider the following requirements:

  • A templatized process flow that ensures consistency of the corporation's values across programs while being flexible enough to support the differences required by each brand and country.
  • Transparency and deep integration from the partner, which provides more visibility and fosters cooperation with brand stakeholders.
  • Specialized teams with experience as moderators and managing moderation at scale, but still in the brand's voice. This will provide the enterprise with value pricing and more “bang for the buck,” as well as peace of mind that content is being handled in context.
  • 24/7 coverage to ensure that nothing slips through the cracks in the wee hours of the morning, providing a human firewall that never sleeps, no matter which channel, brand, or country needs moderation.
  • Effective use of technology that enhances human effort and provides the ability to address the scale of consumer interactions and prioritize them based on patterns and qualitative analysis.
  • Proven track record developing and deploying scale models for global brands.

Let us know what efforts your organization has made in leverage social media for supply chain information or brand enhancement in the comment section below.

13 comments on “Scaling Social Media Programs to Maximize Value: What Procurement Professionals Need to Know

  1. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    October 31, 2014

    Thanks for the thoughts, Peter. It's interesting stuff. For a long time, companies have just thoguht “we need to be on socical media” without being particularly strategic. What advice do you have for organizations as they try to come up with messaging and strategy on social media? Does the corporate messaging have to change according to the social media stream?

  2. Peter Friedman
    October 31, 2014

    Hi  Hailey and thanks fo the comments and question. The answer is yes, the post/reply/engagement should vary by social media stream. I assume you mean channel suchas Facebook, Twitter etc.   While the idea behidn the message may be the same aross social media channels the exeution should be tailored to the specifics of each channel.  Just as you would doi between TV, radio and print.

     

    Each channel is different and it's best to post in the context of what that channel is about and how your customers experience it.  In the course of trying to scale social meda (and a bit driven by the hype of venture capital backed social media tools companies) for a while there was a trend toward one size post fits all channels.  That's a bad practice as per above the channels are different. Also your customers often cross these channels.  If they see the exact same post in multiple channels they'll feel it as spam.  Last  the process of using the same post across channels makes it all to easy to distance yourself from what's actually happing among your customers in each channel whereas one of the great benefits of social media is that it enables a business to get closer to it's customers. 

     

  3. ahdand
    October 31, 2014

    @hailey: Well its good to see that many companies are willing to accept the technological changes that are happening right now

  4. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    October 31, 2014

    @Peter, i hadn't thought about the “spam” factor with the different channels (facebook, twitter, etc.) Are there social media destinations that have no or little business value (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.) or does every site that has people have some potential? Are there emerging channels that organizations might not be thinking about?

  5. Taimoor Zubar
    October 31, 2014

     

    “What advice do you have for organizations as they try to come up with messaging and strategy on social media? Does the corporate messaging have to change according to the social media stream?”

    @Hailey: I think there can be a deep link between social media and supply chain and a lot of companies are already doing so. This is particularly useful for the return supply chain, i.e. items returned by customers due to complaints etc. Quite a few companies have embedded their dissatisfaction forms on their social media pages and customers can claim the returns/exchanges through the pages only and also keep a track of the status.

     

  6. FLYINGSCOT
    November 3, 2014

    It's the 24/7 aspect that we struggle with in that we do not have consistent level of support for the social channels.  As such support is seen as sporadic and can lead to difficulties.

  7. Peter Friedman
    November 3, 2014

    Hi Hailey

    Every social network has potential.  The key is to start by clarifying your company's business goals, then how social media will be used to help meet those goals.  Then who is the target market, and work through a range of other aspects of the social program (social brand identity, content strategy etc.) In that context do a channel analysis and decide which channel (s) make the most sense for your program.  While each has value, they are not all the same and which are suitable for a specific program will vary.  Each social media channel has distinct characteristics and usage patterns.  Sometimes there is overlap of the same customers across channels and sometimes not. 

    As an example our client Zoetis, the top animal pharma company in the world has multiple targets for its equine program.  When putting together a social media program for them we chose targets that fit their plan, but also were present in social media.  Some of their customers are on social and some are not.  So we had to go with the ones who are, and the channels they are in which for that program turned out to be horse owners who are on Facebook.   For the targets not on social media we are starting with a newsletter, that will evolve into an email newsletter and then into a Twitter stream thus helping the target adapt social media over time.

    Facebook is still the m ain game in town for consumer if it fits your goals and strategies  Most brands also now look at Twitter.  Instagram and Pinterest are on the rise. as is Tumbler and now SnapChat.  For business to business Twitter and LinkedIn usually get the first attention, but depending on your needs Facebook might work.  THen there are a range of other forums, blogs etc to consider.  All that is in the US and most of the world. But when deploying in other countries be sure to understand what is popular there for what markets.  For example in China, it's a completely different set of China based social neworks

     

     

     

  8. Peter Friedman
    November 3, 2014

    Hi Flyingscot

    This is an issue we've seen at many brands.  Social is too often considered piecemeal or lacks coordination aross the company that will provide more leverage.  This is an issue that procurement can really help with on a national or global level. Working out processes and tools that can be shared across brands and groups, providing a more consistent and 24/7 program with leverage.

    For example we have a top CPG client with hundreds of social properties (Facebook, Twitter, YoU Tube, community web sites, apps, etc.) around the world.  Some of these have inhouse staff working on them, some don't  Even for the ones with inhouse staff, these brand community managers like to go home at night and on weekends.  For this client we developed a global moderation program with a standardized and streamlined process, tool set, and sharing of moderation hours.  This allows a  streamlined faster time to market witjh new pages and consistent full coverage 24×7 moderation program across all of the properties at a fraction of the cost each group would pay to do separately. Yet the work is still tailored to each brand's needs. For groups staffed with inhouse people, they manage the sites weekdays during the day and we take over evenings and weekends.  Added bonus the compay now has a consistent view into user voice across the properties and around the world

  9. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    November 4, 2014

    @Peter, thanks for bringing up the international aspects of this. It should have occurred to me, but it didn't that other countries each has its own range of social media tools. Great reminder!

  10. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    November 4, 2014

    @Peter, your response to FlyingScot leads me to antoher thought: is it worse to have an underused and neglected channel than to have no channel at all? I'm thinking of thats Facebook pages and LinkedIn groups that are created but not nurtured.

  11. Peter Friedman
    November 4, 2014

    @Hailey.  Good question about worse to have an undeused and neglected channel than to have no channel at all. This is a 2 part answer.  First, if that was actually the choice I'd say better to have no presence.   But  that's not the reall choice which brings me to part 2.  For most large brands your customers will establish a presence about you even if you don't.  So the choice is will you have a presence that you are leading, guiding and participating in, or by not showing up in social media will you default to letting someone else, possiblly and unfriendly someone else, drive it for you.  

  12. Peter Friedman
    November 4, 2014

    @Hailey.  Good question about worse to have an undeused and neglected channel than to have no channel at all. This is a 2 part answer.  First, if that was actually the choice I'd say better to have no presence.   But  that's not the reall choice which brings me to part 2.  For most large brands your customers will establish a presence about you even if you don't.  So the choice is will you have a presence that you are leading, guiding and participating in, or by not showing up in social media will you default to letting someone else, possiblly and unfriendly someone else, drive it for you.  

  13. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    November 5, 2014

    You are right, @Peter. The ship has sailed on being away from social media. I guess I'd rather lead than be a follower.

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