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From marketing function to essential business tool – social media’s transition

Social & Digital

From marketing function to essential business tool – social media’s transition


Marketing speaks to global Hootsuite CMO Penny Wilson about the new business value of social media and the skills to derive insights from social data.

Social media is undergoing a transition. Where once its commercial use was primarily a marketing function, it is now an essential tool for businesses and a key to driving results. Social media data is widely available, but almost half of the Australian respondents in a recent Hootsuite survey say that their organisation lacks the skills needed to work with social data sets.

Penny Wilson discusses the transition of social, skills scarcity and building social data literacy across organisations.

What has changed about social media that’s seen its transition from a marketing function to a tool used business-wide?

penny wilsonCompanies are looking to impact customer experience, and you can’t do that just from a marketing perspective. It must include your sellers, your customer support people. In many cases – if you look at really mature organisations – it’s being used for the entire employee set. Social gives you that one-on-one human connection opportunity. Trying to build brand consistency across all the different channels the customer could connect with you on, is becoming more and more important, a bigger competitive differentiation.

Many say their organisations lack the skills needed to work with social data sets. Would you agree that the skills to derive insight from data are scarce?

I don’t think the skills to derive data insights are necessarily scarce. Generally, with social media skills, everybody is at a different level of comfort. So if you look at organisations that are introducing social media to their sellers, those sellers probably come with a different level of expertise, or their customer support people – that’s a different level of expertise as well.

From a data insight perspective, artificial intelligence will play a key role in helping us get better and better as we go along.

There are lots of skills out there in data insights, but social is unvarnished, unstructured information at scale. It’s really just being able to take that large amount of information and glean insights. Not just for factual information, but behavioural information as well.

What must be done to help build data and insight literacy? What focuses and tips do you recommend?

It’s an education thing. You have to treat whoever you’re educating differently. Providing the tools for people to use that make it easier to understand, and then really trying to put that power in everyone’s hands in order for them to be able to get insights is key.

What about tying social to business goals?

I would say from a trending perspective, there’s the need to be able to tie social directly to your return on investment (ROI). That could come in multiple forms depending on what you’re trying to drive with social. Is it just a stronger relationship with your customers, or better customer retention, or better customer advocacy? Or are you trying to protect your brand in some way?

There are ways in which you can now tie social directly to those outcomes.

There is an opportunity for you to drive it directly to your revenue. So, if you’re trying to drive e-commerce, or you’re trying to drive B2B leads, for example, there are ways in which you can connect social better there.

Social ROI will become a more and more important topic as people invest in it across the organisation. You’re dealing with people who start with brand awareness or brand protection, then move into integrating directly into their campaign. You’re still dealing with marketing directly.

Then when they start to move it beyond, into their revenue driving opportunities – into their sellers – or customer – customer insights into CX, you really get the full social integration. It becomes more and more important for companies to tie it to their return.



Image copyright: rawpixel © 123RF

Ben Ice

Ben Ice was MarketingMag editor from August 2017 - February 2020

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