Skepticism of social media within the business world is prevalent and often entrenched. Rooted in traditional thinking and misunderstanding many decision makers cannot see the value beyond the cosmetic appeal of digital attraction. Many can’t wrap their minds around how this tool can be used within a traditional business structure. It’s understandable – the rigid composition of the business world doesn’t mesh well with the organic and malleable nature of social media.
“How can we monetize it?”, “How does it help our bottom line?”, or “how can it advance our business objectives?” are just some of the questions executives ask. It doesn’t matter what your answer is, many already know (rather think) it’s not for them or their company. There is a gap between the hard-lined ROI of social media and its more pronounced benefits that can support financial objectives. This is where humanization comes in – no, not kumbaya and hugging – but a social culture that affects a business.
At Back Rank we have developed a remarkably progressive set of processes that transform brands and companies into seamless social entities. We use “humanization” techniques, which are founded on that organization’s or startup’s business objectives, to redefine internal processes and communication channels to create socially immersed, functionally lean and authentic companies.
I will be the first to admit that the ROI of social media is vague. However, a humanized social strategy has the ability to redefine that traditional conception of a return by addressing the all too common misconceptions that are held at the top of an organization. Here are three ways to humanize your social media strategy, while monetizing the process at the same time:
1) Interact, Listen and Capitalize: people (your audience) don’t want to engage with a logo and controlled messages – this is one of the quickest ways to failure within the digital sphere. Take the time to tap into your employee network, create processes that give your audience a look behind the brand, and interact in a way that is authentically invested.
These interactions, relationships and conversations – which are built on trust – can yield remarkable opportunities for a company.
How is this monetized? Simple – you are trading high-cost research and PR services for internally owned and operated processes that simultaneously enhance the company’s brand, marketing/advertising abilities and reputation.
2) Focus on Value Over Volume: Social media platforms have unfortunately become a numbers race. Many believe volume is a clear indicator of influence – so we chase cosmetic growth. This is flawed to its very core. Remember, humanization builds trust, not your Klout score. This is where your resources should be focused: on building trust and offering value to your audience. Humanized interaction builds relationships between company representatives, which in turn builds loyalty and a network that means something to your brand.
For example, buying followers or likes may rocket you over the 100,000 plateau, but if you have only built a trusted relationship with 0.01% of them, your social marketing/advertising and PR activities are sent into the abyss. There are no engagements, no “next steps” taken, and no value offered to your company.
How is this monetizes? If you have invested in a humanized social media strategy, built trusted and deep relationships with 80% of your 10,000 followers, your social marketing/advertising and PR activities are far more likely to result in traditional metrics of success.
3) Transparency and Attentiveness: Controlled branding messaging is often a pillar of traditional marketing tactics. Often times you will find one-way, outbound marketing content that offers no added value (from the perspective of your audience). Further, these brands are often lauded as unauthentic and most times ignored. That “insider view” – the human element – of a company is remarkably powerful. The risk adverse nature of many companies when it comes to social media leads many organizations to fear this type of radical transparency.
How is this monetized? As we fear vulnerability we forget the ways transparent social media engagement affects our bottom line. Well-trained personnel, armed with clear processes can offer some of the best customer service via social media. This openness, willingness to address issues and engage customers in the public eye can turn negative experiences into happy ones (retention), all while amplifying the positive experiences that occur (image, reputation and referrals).
The quantitative ROI of social media is vague – this we know. I am not sure if or when we will be able to generate hard-lined ROI for our social media efforts. The same goes for traditional marketing, PR and advertising. Instead, let’s focus on monetizing the actual process of humanized social media (not the finite end point) because whether a company likes it or not, this is the route we are travelling as a consumer market.