What is the power of social business to your brand? There are multiple answers to this question and your forerunner answer varies, according to where the focus of your brand is. Let’s run down some of the answers.
- Brand awareness – the use of social platforms to message the key qualities and attributes of your brand.
- Market research – the use of social tools to identify demographics, including geolocation data, contact information, brand sentiment and expansion/contraction opportunities.
- Brand marketing – using social and digital content to market your brand’s products and services directly (and indirectly) to existing and potential customers, with “sharing” abilities.
- Customer service – identifying and resolving issues at or near point of source, often converting an issue into a positive that is public.
- Public relations – timely crisis response, broad distribution of news and message and shaping brand sentiment.
- Brand loyalty – identification of Centers of Influence and thought leaders, relationship building and grooming brand ambassadors.
- New opportunities – related to market research, the use of social tools to identify new markets and discovery of new opportunities.
Which of these are most important to your brand at this time? The power of social business directly influences each of these and more. The tools available in social business become increasingly robust with each passing day. For example, Digital Coco has indexed the social profiles of more than 23 million consumers, monitoring what restaurants they frequent, what they “like” and their sentiments on particular brands.
Another example: in YouTube, brands can search for people that are viewing videos with similar lifestyle qualities, and then send a suggested video to them.
Creative teams that effectively use robust social web tools, produce compelling content, distribute effectively to the right targets and warmly engage/build relationships for brands provide brands greater ability to influence future business than any traditional marketing or public relations firm.
What I’d really like to focus on here though, is return. What is the ROI of social business? We can easily count both hard and soft metrics that determine a brands return on investment in social and digital media. Hard data such as attributable sales, conversions, guest experience and customer retention are easily quantifiable. But there’s a longer tail return to consider - ROR, or, Return on Relationships.
I suggest that Return on Relationships is the key factor to consider in social business. By using the tools available in social business, brands are able to identify geolocated (and vetted) centers of influence, introduce themselves to these community leaders and build strong relationships with them, that influences other decision makers.
Return on Relationships is what I consider a “soft metric” return. It’s harder to measure. But I posit that it is measurable and that its value is immense.
I’ve been building a personal brand online for years. Through using social media, publishing as much compelling content as I can, being transparent and promoting others who I admire, I have built a significant community of individuals I respect and admire. Often, these folks challenge my thinking and expose me to new ideas and new learnings. Often, these folks lead or spark great conversations that introduce or build upon concepts and ideas that inform me.
The most important facet – the most important return – of these relationships is that I meet and get to know other highly interesting folks; people I would likely never have met in real life. The return on relationships for my personal brand is immense.
For a businesses, this process is the same. One relationship in development introduces other new relationships to develop. I hesitate to say it’s like gold-mining, but in a way, it is.