This post originally appeared on SocialTimes.com as a guest column by Shoutlet CEO Jason Weaver on January 4, 2011.
There have been significant changes in social media in 2010, and one of the big new trends is the development of social media management systems (SMMS). But what value can a social media management system really add?
As companies get comfortable with social, they’ve quickly realized they need a solution to manage their efforts across multiple social media channels, execute a workflow process and streamline their efforts in a time-effective way. The value of a robust SMMS manifests in many forms.
Among the areas such platforms help companies enhance:
Integration among Departments
Challenges for larger organizations include breaking down silos and enlisting departments from beyond marketing and PR, such as R&D and customer service. An SMMS provides the functionality to execute your company’s process for creating content, approving it, engaging with customers, and analyzing the data you receive as a result, especially when there’s a Social CRM element. Having a tool dedicated to managing this process that supports users from multiple departments makes this integration exponentially more practical. The value this adds is nearly indefinable. If, for example, a customer has an excellent product idea or suggestion, having a platform and a process for getting this information into the appropriate hands can be worth millions. (Or in the event of something negative, it could cost you millions.)
Few who have delved into a social media marketing program have not pondered the dilemma of time management. The tidal wave of information and options can be overwhelming. Social media management systems provide a single interface for your team, which saves valuable manpower hours and streamlines your efforts.
Compliance and Branding
Social media management systems can be both tools for the operations aspects of social media as well as the creative aspects of maintaining social media presences. On one hand, platforms with approval processes and workflow management for interacting with customers in social media create an environment in which compliance is easier, especially if yours is a highly regulated industry bound by specific rules from government regulators, industry groups, shareholders, and others. On the other hand, when a social media platform includes creative features, such as shared file libraries and customizable social content, the branding and look and feel across multiple social media outlets is that much simpler (and less time-consuming). Even messaging can have a consistent voice when teams are using one platform to collaborate and post.
The value of compliance – both in policy and “prettiness” – isn’t lost on brand managers, who know the importance of these elements when it comes to customer-facing efforts online.
One doesn’t think “sexy” when they think about social media management platforms. David Armano even made this prediction: “Social Media Management Systems are un-sexy, but every large company will end up using them.” As much as we agree generally agree with Dave Armano’s insights, we disagree with this one. SMMS can be sexy! An enterprise social media platform is a tool teams will use every day. From the user interface to juicy tracking features, each aspect of a social media dashboard should be appealing for companies. When the platform is easy to use and gives users options for creating exceptional creative social content, the experience becomes sexier for customers, too. This helps boost the value of a social media presence – and ultimately, the bottom line.
The business value of staying human. Sounds silly, right? Even obvious? But it’s tougher than it seems, as Brian Solis pointed out in his inspiring post, “Social Business Takes a Human Touch, No Really.” Large companies that can remain human and elevate the corporate social media mission will be the leaders in the space. Solis writes: “In order to activate the social web and unlock meaningful conversations, we must look beyond customers. We must officially recognize all those who influence their actions and introduce a conversational workflow that traverses the business chasms to learn and lead – in public.”
An SMMS that includes Social CRM provides a platform for teams to achieve this. It gives them the insight to know their customers and the tools to converse with them in an authentic way. The dollar value of staying human is immeasurable. But staying human is the meat of social media – and the reason why social media has blown the doors off traditional marketing models.
Your SMMS Should Help You Meet Your Goals
These are just a sample of the ways an SMMS adds value to an enterprise social media program. When selecting a social media management system, take into account the many benefits it can bring to all aspects of your social media endeavors. And like any other social media tool, the SMMS you select should help your organization meet your business goals for social media.