Taking social media beyond marketing
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Taking social media beyond marketing

I-CIO editorial team – October 2012
CIOs need to be actively involved in their organization’s social media agenda to ensure different initiatives fit within a broader information strategy.

What do your customers do when they are unhappy about a product or service supplied by your business? Increasingly, they use a social media platform to tell your company — plus their friends, followers and anyone else — what they think. And organizations that fail to respond risk significant business damage.

Analyst group Gartner claims that, by 2014, refusing to communicate with customers via social media will be as harmful to companies as ignoring phone calls or emails is today. “The dissatisfaction stemming from failure to respond via social channels can lead to up to a 15% increase in churn rate for existing customers,” says Carol Rozwell, a Gartner VP and distinguished analyst. “It’s crucial that organizations implement approaches to handling social media now.”

There is, therefore, a growing focus within the enterprise on social media for customer service. Monitoring online conversations about their brands is now a vital part of business operations (and becoming easier, thanks to tools such as Radian6 and Social Mention), as is engaging with customers on their preferred social platforms in order to deal with potentially damaging situations as quickly as possible. In short, social media is expanding beyond the marketing department and into areas such as customer service, as well as process design, product development and supply chain optimization.

“Failure to respond via social channels can lead to up to a 15% increase in churn.”

While IT departments are never going to have direct control over their organizations’ external-facing social media operations, it is nonetheless crucial that every CIO partners closely with those that do. “The CIO plays a critical role, but in most cases has not been proactive enough in leading the discussion,” comments Jeremiah Owyang, an analyst at industry watcher Altimeter Group.

“The CIO must help architect a common data strategy that aggregates data from multiple social media touchpoints to common data repositories; ensure vendors are enterprise ready and viable for the long term; and yet be flexible to the needs of the business units. The risk is that business units can adopt SaaS-based social software tools on their own, which they may implement without having a broader information strategy.”

CIOs therefore need a deep understanding of their organization’s social media strategy and how it is executed. Just look at what’s underway at KLM, Deutsche Post DHL and Ford, three global businesses leading the way in their response to the new challenges presented by social media — and the role IT is playing in this.

KLM turns social media best practice into customer service leadership
Deutsche Post takes a holistic approach to social media
• How Ford’s C-suite has embraced the social agenda
First published October 2012
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