Record social media numbers prompt rethink on social strategy

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SYDNEY, Today – Op-ed by Hootsuite ANZ managing director Heather Cook: Along with rugby, giving women the right to vote, and climbing Mount Everest, we can now add internet and social media use to the list of things that New Zealand leads the world in.

According to Hootsuite’s Digital 2019 report, New Zealand is one of the top 20 countries in the world for internet use and social media adoption. In total, New Zealand has 3.4 million active social media users (71% of the population) per month, meaning most of the population live online in one or all of the many social platforms we have to choose from. 

The huge proportion of New Zealanders on social media combined with this growth dynamic means that in order to grow, engage customers, drive purchases and attract talent, New Zealand businesses need to innovate strategies to harness the power of these channels. In fact, it’s an expectation of their customers, employees, shareholders and new markets that they are present in this space.

So, with social media shifting the way our nation interacts in such a monumental way, why do we still see its purpose through such a narrow lens? Why are marketers seemingly the only people catching onto the hype?

If businesses don’t make the most of social, and only treat it as a siloed marketing function disconnected from product, sales, HR and customer service, they are doing themselves a disservice.

Here’s a quick rundown on how other business units can succeed with social just as equally as marketing:

SALES: Social equals sales
Social media’s utility is expanding. A global study of 47,000 internet users aged 16 to 64 found that 55% of all internet users are social shoppers. Social shoppers are people who use social media as one of their primary sources of information about a product, brand, or service. And the option to use a “buy” button on social media would make them more likely to buy something online.

CUSTOMER CARE: The coalface of the business
In the age of the individual, interacting with customers in a personalised manner is becoming so much more important. 

Audiences are undergoing a shift from public to private spaces in social with nine out of ten customers preferring to engage with a brand directly through a messaging platform rather than traditional channels. 

To maintain customer satisfaction, businesses need to shift their social strategies to enable customer care to support this unique, new way customers want to communicate. 

This ensures brands are able to reach audiences far beyond what has previously been possible and engage with them in an immensely effective manner, personalising the customer journey, showing customers they care, and in turn inspiring and helping customers with purchase decisions.

HR: Employee engagement and advocacy
Social media channels are often the first port of call for prospective employees, as such it should be a key channel the HR team utilise when looking to recruit new team members.

Not just that, but positive social media exposure helps to create an engaged employee workforce. Businesses should consider how they leverage social media to drive thought leadership and communicate their business purpose to encourage employee advocacy. This in turn can  help attract top professionals and drive a positive company culture where staff are inspired to be the biggest brand advocates. Encouraging employees to share company posts across their own social media profiles will certainly drive results, with studies showing employees are more than twice as trusted as a ceo, senior executive, or activist consumer.

To summarise, the reasons customers follow a brand on social are varied: the number one reason is to seek customer service, followed by product advertising. In contrast, 90% of brands are on social media with the vague purpose of creating or continuing ‘brand awareness’. A noble cause, but only a fraction of social’s true value. 

The socially mature organisation has progressed past a channel specific strategy, and moved to social being used in a coordinated way across multiple departments. 

Only 62% of APAC companies surveyed in our 2018 Social Barometer report are socially mature, using social media beyond marketing to achieve diverse business goals. 

We need to close this gap to ensure our companies are achieving ROI beyond marketing. Building customer rapport and affinity, fostering an engaged workforce and harnessing the budding capabilities of new platforms means that social is becoming more than marketing. 

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