What is the primary use of public social networks by organisations today?
The number one and overwhelming use is as a marketing tool. Most social media programs are controlled by the marketing department or outsourced to digital agencies, who in a former timeframe were marketing agencies. The exercise of getting the branding messages right is critical as public social networks can be brutal if the message hits the wrong note. Public social networks, if managed properly and diligently, have the capacity to reach audiences far wider than any other marketing tool.
The second use and becoming increasingly more important is customer/prospect engagement. Interactions are producing data that can assist organisations to understand their strengths and weaknesses better. Analytics tools are being used to capture consumer sentiment and buying habits. All of which need to be analysed and fed into an organisation collaboration framework so that employees across the organisation can have access to what their customers are thinking.
Is there any connection between what an organisation does with its public facing social network interactions and its need to collaborate in a more controlled (Extranet like) environment?
How would you make use of the data being collected from your organisations interactions with public social networks?
Never before has there been the wealth of unsolicited and uncensored customer data available, which can be used to tune the future performance of the organisation. This is incredibly powerful and wholeheartedly supports the notion that “social” is “the new way to do work”. What then to do with all of this wonderful insightful data?
If public social networking sites are capable of providing context for masses of people to come to together to contribute, to learn, to share and gain knowledge, largely without any control, why would we not try and replicate that within a structure that will assist us to produce a better product or service. Of course we would do it. The solution to this is private social networks, ie social business, facilitated by a social business software platform.
Would it be beneficial to learn from public social network feedback and to socialise the results with the aim of improving customer service?
The power of public social networks is the benefit that can be derived from the knowledge gained as a result of customer interactions. No other internally focussed framework, other than private social networks is in a position to effectively socialise the results of these interactions. Social business supports the concept of cross-organisation collaboration, without hierarchical barriers getting in the way of transparently distributing information so that maximum exposure to employees who may be able to suggest innovative solutions to difficult customer problems.
A large telco operating in the Australian market massively uses a social business software platform (private social network) to ensure all levels of the organisation can be appraised of customer related issues, as they arise. This has led to significant improvements in the level of customer service, which for a telco is paramount to their continued success.
2013 saw many more organisations jump on board the public social networking bandwagon. These sites responded by coming up with new and exciting ways to take their money. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, etc all either created new ways of monetising their service or refined the process and by and large were deemed to be successful at it, for some, making shareholders happy. From a private social networking (or social business) perspective I think 2013 was a watershed year, due to the realisation that if social practices work as well as they do out in the public space (with little or no control), just think what we could do if we managed the environment.
2014 will see a convergence on a much larger scale of public social network use and data and their private social network cousin.
I’d be very interested in the views of others on this topic.