Social media is one of the biggest game-changers for business in the past decade since it’s rapidly and irreversibly changing the way people interact with one another. If digital transformation is paramount for companies to stay in business, going social is paramount in order to live and be present, visible and relevant.
 
Penny Willson, Chief Marketing Officer at Hootsuite, shared part of her experience with social media and what it means for companies who actually implement social strategies.
 
“There is a widening gap between the organization and the people and technologies powering them. It took 75 years for 50 million people to adopt the telephone, 38 years for 50 million people to adopt the radio, 13 years for 50 million people to adopt the television and 18 months for 50 million people to adopt Instagram”.
 
Studies suggest that in 10 years, 40% of the Fortune 500 companies will no longer exist. One reason for this change is social media.
 
“Social media is now a business opportunity. They give mass market audiences with pinpoint targeting. And businesses are taking notice. They have reacted by more than doubling their investment in social media in last year alone and I don’t see that rhythm changing”.
 
You have to champion the power of human connection. You need to put humans first and see things from your customer’s perspective. They expect a different kind of response now, a human one, at transparent, authentic, relevant. We live in a world where our customers are always on, in any location, on any device and they expect an immediate response. Organizations are failing to keep up.
 
“You can learn more about your customers by listening. Gone are the days of focus groups and surveys. Social media is now doing that. You need to personalize to be authentic and relevant. Social is an opportunity to communicate with your customers at a 1-on-1 scale.”
 
One of the conclusions of the session was that content is still king, and relevant content means that you respect your customers and you value their time.
 
“You need to close the social media gap with education. Not everyone is comfortable in the social world, so you need to educate them and to make sure they are comfortable. Next, you need to increase the adoption of social through training. It should be a principle for your company, rather than treating it just as a broadcast channel”.
 
It will be a big return to your bottom line. You can create strong relationships by being more responsive, building trust, increasing employee engagement and loyalty by making that connection.
 

 
Brand equity comes from the trust your customers have for you. You need to tie your social efforts directly to your business outcomes. You need to break down the technology silos you might have in your company.
 
The Accor Hotels case study
Penny Willson presented an interesting case study during her session.
 
About two years ago, Accor Hotels set the path towards digital transformation. They had to engage with their customers before, during and after they stay. And they also knew that over 15% of the traffic on Facebook is travel related. They thought that social is going to be this perfect opportunity for us.
 
But they knew they needed to engage in a local and authentic way. So they armed all their hotels with the ability to engage with their guests at a social level. That’s how they created the Accor social desk. It gave them the opportunity to listen to their customers in real time, to react to their customer’s complaints in real time and it more than doubled their community in one year from 4 million to 10 million. This is the perfect example of putting customers first, as both customers and employees drive business results at scale.
 
AI will be our ability to scale the human connection to new heights. It’s going to give us even better listings, it’s going to let us create even greater content to engage with customers.
 
Social media will always be that differentiator, always be the human element, but AI will take it to new heights. I believe that by 2020, AI will be a business imperative.
 

 
A few years ago we opened up our education programs, where you can learn about social management, strategy, and our tools for free. You can also opt for in-person training.

About the author

Sebastian Stan

Sebastian is a journalist and digital strategist with years of experience in the news industry, social media, content creation & management, and digital analytics.