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The growing pains of becoming a social business

Today if you’re not using digital you are not just behind your competition, you are lagging your consumers’ behaviour, warns Bridget Greenwood, director of Financial Social Media UK.

Social media has fundamentally changed the way we do business, how we research and choose to make our purchasing decisions, regardless of B2B or B2C because it’s all H2H – human to human.

Social media is not just a handful of social networks, like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter etc, it’s anywhere online where people can interact and share their opinion or voice. When you think about it in those terms, it’s pretty much the internet. It’s your digital marketing and it should permeate every aspect of your business objectives.

Changing our buying decisions

Think of the last app you downloaded and remember how the 5-star rating influenced your decision on either continuing to download the app – or if a specific one wasn’t recommended to you – on selecting the most appropriate app for what you wanted. We rely on a bunch of strangers’ collective opinions to shape our decisions.

And it doesn’t matter if it’s an app, a washing machine, a yacht, a financial product or investment, it affects all of our buying decisions.

Moment of Truth

Back in January 2012 Google published a paper called ZMOT (Zero Moment of Truth).

“When someone wants to find out more about a subject, a product, a service, they go online and so they go on a journey of discovery: about a product, a service, an issue, an opportunity, an investment….” This is the Zero Moment of Truth.

Previously in marketing terms there was the First Moment of Truth – broadly speaking this is when you’re in a shop, a supermarket let’s say, and you’re deciding on which brand of toothpaste to buy. The Second Moment of truth is how you’ve experienced the product or service and when you’re back in the supermarket looking for toothpaste again, do you decide to go for the same brand or try something different?

Today, however, we have the ZMOT and with it, its power to help shoppers make great decisions and its power to help companies tell their stories at the moment of highest impact; and social media is providing a lot of this content.

Data revealed that the average shopper used 10.4 sources of information to make a decision in 2011, up from 5.3 sources in 2010. Specifically, Google and Shopper Sciences partnered to reveal the Zero Moments of Truth for the financial investment category and found that consumers research for two weeks or longer seeking an average of 8.9 sources of information before they make a decision.

Importantly, while shoppers are using a wide array of sources, ZMOT is the most dominant with 94% of investment shoppers engaging in ZMOT.

The first impression of your brand and quite potentially the final impression can, and often does, happen online.

Today if you’re not using digital you are not behind your competition, you are not behind the technology, you are lagging behind your consumers’ behaviour.

Corporate Blogging

Let’s take a look at the benefits behind social and in this case specifically at corporate blogging, (stats courtesy of Kutosys). When talking about blogging we’re referring to written content, images, infographs, podcasts, video etc, i.e. the content you can create to show up in searches at a person’s Zero Moment of Truth.

When a corporate blog is done consistently and mapped to larger business objectives, the benefits to these corporates is hard to ignore.

Brands that create 15 Blog posts per month average 1,200 new leads per month. Blogs on company sites results in 55% more visitors. Interesting content is in the top three reasons people follow brands.

Of consumers who said they have a relationship with a brand, 64% cited shared value, only 13% cited frequent interactions with the brand.

It’s not just your customers whose impressions are being formed by social media, key data points to increased employee benefits and loyalty within firms where the CEO has embraced social media.

Social media impacts every aspect of a company. Today you might be lagging behind your consumers, clients and prospects, tomorrow you’ll also be behind lagging behind the workforce. Attracting the right people to your company is already being impacted by the social maturity of a firm.

Transitioning through the social maturity steps

But for a company to become socially mature – it needs to transition through a series of steps. There needs to be a cultural shift in thinking across individuals and departments, rewriting a lot of policy and rules to integrate social across the board. This is naturally going to take time, effort and energy, it’s going to take resources.

It needs the buy in from not just marketing, but compliance, legal, HR and especially the ‘C- Suite’, the senior executives.

I’ve heard it said that social media is not a sprint it’s a marathon, and the gun went off years ago. And while that might be true it’s mature enough to be taken seriously, to learn from the experience of others, but not to have absolutely the best practices. The standard for the enterprise integration of social media is still being drawn.

Hootsuite defined the steps as:

Social Advocate: A lone voice in the company determined to bring social media into their department, usually marketing or PR. The social advocate can only do so much.

Social Teams: As more individuals support the social advocate a social team emerges, typically they are departmentally focused and often emerge is silos.

Social Business: Once your social teams have spread so you have a number of teams operating in separate departments you’re on your way to becoming a social business.

Social Enterprise: Operating across cultures, good governing policy for your social engagement that empowers your teams to engage directly with your audience, clients, prospects alike. Collaboration across the departments and social media and digital are infused across the board.

A significant sign of the social maturity of a company is the way an organisation handles the socially native concepts of openness and transparency.

As Dr Stephen Covey famously said, ‘Start with the End in Mind’, the end goal in this case being a social business or enterprise. When businesses first adopted social media they didn’t realise how impactful it was going to be across all departments including internal dialogue as well as externally. Learn from this.

Get Creative. Look outside of your sector for inspiration and great practice. Engage with software providers – it’s worth getting a demo of a handful just to get ideas of how others are using social and the features and functionality built around it.

Conclusion

The importance of social media is not lost on our industry. In a recent survey conducted with PAMInsights, which comprised mostly of wealth managers and private banks, we showed that 73% of these firms were going to increase their presence on social media; note, none of them were going to decrease it.

But 64% said their biggest concern was a lack of resources. It’s imperative then that senior executives are engaged with, buy into and are committed to this process. This is where we’re really struggling in the finance sector. Until such time as the proper resources are given to social media and digital, companies are going to struggle on their path to becoming socially mature.

Visit the Financial Social Media website

For more on the Zero Moment of Truth

 

 

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