5 causes CMOs can't personal social media anymore

For many companies, it's not even a question: marketers have their own social strategy. Always have, always will. If social media is primarily used as an advertising and communication channel, who would still operate it?

Our new research shows that it is time to reconsider that assumption. Hootsuite has partnered with analyst and research firm Altimeter Group to conduct a study of the quantitative value social media offers modern organizations. We surveyed 2,162 marketers and conducted in-depth interviews with executives from large companies. We asked them all the questions you could expect about social tactics, strategies, and outcomes. Then we went a step further: We rated each respondent using our Social Maturity Assessment, a tool that examines how companies use social media, and benchmarks how they compare to others in their industry. This method provided reliable data on how mature companies use social media compared to their less mature colleagues.

The result: five lessons for CMOs on how to mature your company and how it can improve your business.

Download the full report on social transformation to find out how 2,162 marketers are using social media in their organizations after COVID-19.

1. If you only use social media for marketing purposes, you are already behind schedule.

Yes, social media can serve as an advertising and communication channel. In fact, it's a damn good thing: more than 80% of businesses say that social networks help them reach potential customers more efficiently than other channels. No wonder nearly every marketing team uses social media and nearly two-thirds of the PR and communications teams – far more than other parts of the company.

While less mature companies only use social media for marketing and communication, mature companies are pushing social media into other areas of their business.

For example, mature companies are more than twice as likely as their less mature counterparts to say that their customer service reps use social media. Customer care teams tell us that social intelligence helps them serve customers better, and that the speed of social media

Older organizations are also about twice as likely to report on recruiting and human resources social media. Why? HR teams tell us that using social media increases candidate diversity, improves retention of new employees, and reduces recruiting costs.

It doesn't stop there. Older companies are more likely to equip their sales teams with social tools – and say this strategy lowers the cost-per-acquisition. They also tend to use social media for product development. Older businesses know that social media can help a wide variety of departments achieve their goals.

What CMOs Should Do: Actively drive social initiatives beyond your own team. First, strengthen your customer service and HR departments. Next, help your sales and R&D teams start social programs. The more you integrate social media into your company, the more it will help you to be successful.

2. The power of the social remains relationships, not scaling.

It is tempting to connect social platforms on a pure scale. After all, nearly 3 billion people use Facebook every month. More than a billion use Instagram every month and hundreds of millions use Twitter, Pinterest and Snapchat.

With such a large audience, it's no surprise that many companies view social media as a delivery medium. Remember, most marketers' early social initiatives included blog posts and Facebook updates: you talked, most of the time your audience just listened. (Even today, given the declining organic reach, every top brand publishes at least intermittent social posts.)

As social marketing matured, most organizations broadened their focus to another type of broadcasting: paid social advertising. In total, U.S. marketers will spend more than $ 40 billion on social ads this year. Facebook alone will generate nearly a quarter of all online advertising revenue in the US.

But mature social organizations have never lost sight of the core value of social media: it's all about relationships. Because of this, mature companies are much more likely than their less mature counterparts to hear and then participate in social conversations about their brands. In fact, mature organizations tell us that they still prefer to have social conversations than run social ads. The Result: The vast majority of mature organizations say that social networking has helped them build strong relationships that have benefited their business. In comparison, less than half of the less mature organizations can make this claim.

What CMOs Should Do: Focus your social priorities from marketing posts and paid ads to relationships and engagement. Of course, you should try to get your company's message across to your target audience as much as possible. But if that's all you do, you are missing out on the point. So make sure your social team is putting its resources into responding and interacting with fans, not just pumping out promotional posts.

3. Social media can help you reach and reach more audiences than just your customers.

Who is your organization targeting with its social programs? If you're like most CMOs, think of "Social Media" as your Twitter public account or your Facebook ad purchase. And those big social platforms don't hide who to focus on: Facebook's guide to business is titled "Connect with the Customers You Are Looking for". So it's no wonder that the vast majority of companies tell us that they use social media to reach customers.

Only about half of the organizations we surveyed said they expanded their social programs beyond customers to reach their broader communities. However, if you take a closer look, you will find that most mature social organizations do just that.

Older organizations understand the ability of social media to reach and engage employees – whether through employee-targeted social profiles, employee representation programs, or even internal social platforms. These brands report significant improvements in internal metrics such as employee engagement and the efficiency with which employees work together. Perhaps surprisingly, they also tell us that employee-centric social programs offer external benefits such as greater organic reach for brand messages and improved quality of sales managers.

Employees aren't the only other audience you can target. Two-thirds of mature organizations report that social media has had a positive impact on finding, retaining, and building relationships with external partners. And mature companies are also much more likely to use social media than their peers to reach shareholders.

What CMOs Should Do: Don't Use Social Media Just To Get Customers. Focus on other stakeholders too. Think about what your employees, partners, suppliers and shareholders are looking for – either in general or by your organization in particular. Then design the social strategies and tactics to reach these audiences and meet their needs.

4. As you increase your social maturity, you increase your business impact.

Facebook will turn 17 in 2021; Twitter turns 15 not long after that. It can be tempting to think of these social platforms as disruptive teenagers – constantly testing our limits and not cleaning their spaces.

For many customers, social media defines your brand. If you're like most organizations, more people follow you on social platforms than they visit your website or go into your stores. There's a good chance you have more social fans than email subscribers. That's why more people find inspiration for their purchases on social media than anywhere else.

So if you think social media can benefit your brand, you are right. Almost every mature social organization states that social media has improved key brand health metrics like brand relevance and positive brand sentiment. Overall, mature companies are 1.4 times more likely than their less mature counterparts to say that social media sets their brands apart.

What You May Not Expect: If you invest wisely in social networks, you will see benefits that go beyond social channels. For example, 75% of mature businesses say their social marketing programs actually help them improve the effectiveness of paid search, television, and other advertising channels.

Better still, smart social investments can make your business more prone to failure. In fact, more than two-thirds of our survey respondents said using social media helped them prepare for the impact COVID-19 had on their business. Older companies were, of course, best prepared: many report that both their customer relationships and brand sentiment actually improved rather than deteriorated during the pandemic.

What CMOs Should Do: Sponsor your company's social programs with dollars and promotions. Well-engineered social programs not only have isolated business goals, they also benefit your entire company. However, this maturity requires real investment. No wonder mature social organizations are five times more likely than their counterparts to say that their social programs have an executive sponsor.

5. A comprehensive social strategy can guide your digital transformation.

If 2020 has made one thing clear, this is: The digital transformation can hardly wait. In the past year, digital interaction with companies was no longer just a customer preference, but in many cases the only option. Because of this, companies that have embraced their customers' digital behavior are thriving.

The good news: Social media programs can help your company thrive in a time of digital transformation. Social media brings customer voices and behavior to the fore – and thus offers the ideal starting point for any digital cultural change. Older organizations also say their use of social media with an eye on employees has accelerated this cultural shift.

Even better, mature organizations say the steering committees and working groups they set up to manage social programs also taught employees how to work together efficiently. Social media provides the roadmap for a broader digital transformation. Because of this, more than two-thirds of mature organizations agree that their social initiatives prepared their companies for digital transformation.

What CMOs Should Do: Rely on social frameworks to drive the digital transformation of your company. If you're a mature social organization, you've already built the steering committees, sparked employee collaboration, and created the cultural shift on which your digital transformation project depends. Adopt the same structures to align your business with digital customer behaviors, and your digital transformation will be on the way.

How mature is your social organization?

Our social maturity rating is a benchmark of over 1,000 business organizations in 12 industries and covers all aspects of how companies use social networks to create business value, including attribution practices, use of social data in mapping customer journeys, integration of social data into CRM Systems. Employee representation, paid media and influencer strategies, and employee training programs.

Start here to make a social maturity assessment of your own organization.

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