According to Deloitte, the 2020 social media share of total marketing budgets was up to a staggering 24% nationwide. It’s another way of saying that it’s now well known how valuable it is to sales-driven organisations.
However, companies often underestimate social media’s cultural and transformative influence. Understanding the true value and potential of social has become more important as they look for new opportunities in the post-pandemic economy.
With many companies having to reimagine their business models and quickly adapt to more digital ways of connecting with customers and employees, social has a vital role to play in the future.
Research shows that companies with well-developed social media strategies use social to achieve broad cross-organisational benefits, while slower-on-the-uptake organizations still primarily see social simply as a communications tool and marketing channel.
Social media has a unique ability to develop and deepen relationships across multiple stakeholders.
Companies have seen during the pandemic how social media can create, maintain and strengthen relationships. The need for increased speed and real-time data has elevated social’s role in staying connected with not only customers but all stakeholders: employees, partners, and the community.
Companies now recognise social media’s ability to drive efficiency and value beyond marketing and communications.
While social media’s focus on customers is well known, its effect is also spreading throughout companies and business as a whole. In particular, employee advocacy creates greater value in brand health and employee engagement, with huge benefits in recruitment, investor relations and industry acceptance.
Social media will support digital transformation.
The spread of social media across stakeholders supports digital transformation, starting with senior executives and extending throughout the organisation, especially with employee advocacy. Social media development amongst employees raises their skill and awareness, creates value and new efficiencies, and get leaders educated, talking, and aligned around a comprehensive digital strategy.
Helping companies build stronger relationships is social media’s unique power.
From blogs and forums to TikTok and Reddit, social media has been around for 20 years. Its value as a sales tool and comms channel needs no elaboration.
However, what companies tend to overlook is the value it brings to all aspects of stakeholder engagement; it goes well beyond customers and prospects. The relationships, internal and external, that social media creates are important to all aspects and all stakeholder groups.
But it goes much further than you might imagine. Any company going through a process of digital transformation will find that a well defined and sustained social media presence can make the difference between success and failure. Engaged employees who have a relationship with the company, will be more likely to be carried along on the path to digital transformation than those who just do the bare minimum to ‘get by’. Other stakeholders will be kept informed and understand what and why is happening, smoothing the path to success.
Those that made the move well before the pandemic find social media an essential tool for relationships with every sort of stakeholder. It’s not just about customers and prospects, it’s also employees and recruitment, the City and investors, suppliers and competitors, press and media, pressure groups and supporters, academia and authorities – the list is endless.
This is because the normal channels of communication have been disrupted, and they have been replaced with channels that are wide open to everyone. We all have a stake in your company now!
Brand health improves with social media and employee advocacy
Companies’ brand health closely reflects their ability to build deep, strong relationships with stakeholders. According to HootSuite, 84% of active social media organisations saw significant success in improving key brand health metrics in 2020, such as relevancy and positive sentiment.
Employee advocacy also has a significant impact on brand health—primarily if executives are engaged. In the same survey, a third of companies reported improved brand health just because of employee advocacy.
As social media strengthens relationships it, therefore, helps drive brand value, making them more resilient during crises such as the pandemic.
Accelerate digital transformation by driving organisational change with social media.
One of the top reasons why digital transformation projects fail is that they focus primarily on the ‘digital’ technology and not nearly enough on the ‘transformation’ of the organization. This can be overcome through employee (and other stakeholders) engagement in social media.
It seems obvious really, but it’s depressing how often I come across companies that have invested in expensive software and systems, only to find minimal uptake. This could so easily have been avoided if the company had strong social media relationships, as they would be able to gauge people’s uptake and acceptance of the new assets, and act accordingly – for example through training, or developing the UX.
Conclusion: use social media for more than just sales!
The pandemic has brought about so much change to almost every industry. Those that hadn’t undertaken digital transformation before, now have to – and fast! Those whose culture was hidden, or who were invisible on social media, are unlikely to survive if they don’t change.
Social media is one of the key factors in the success of a company or brand. Without it, they run the risk of repeating the same mistakes so many have made before now. With it, their likelihood of achieving their aims is hugely enhanced.