Social media has earned its now well-established seat at the marketing table. However, executives often underestimate the broader value that social media can have on a business. As organizations look to rebuild in a post-pandemic world, it’s essential to tap into social media’s growing economic value and cultural power.
In Hootsuite’s Social Transformation Report, 2,162 marketers were interviewed to uncover the value organizations find when they invest in social. Three critical areas were identified, which I’ll share in this post.
3 unique ways social creates value for Businesses
The report found that sophisticated organizations use social media in three key ways; to deepen relationships, increase value and efficiency, and become a catalyst for culture shifts.
1. Social media’s relationship-building power extends beyond customers
2020 and 2021 showed us just how crucial it is for brands to use social media as a way to protect and strengthen relationships. Social media now plays an integral role in developing relationships, not just with customers, but also employees, partners, and other stakeholders.
The study shows that ‘mature organizations’—those with robust social media strategies according to Hootsuite’s Social Maturity Assessment—are using social to build relationships beyond customers.
While 75% of businesses focus on customers as a key audience on social, mature organizations have expanded their strategy. They’re nearly twice as likely to also connect with communities, employees, and partners.
By investing in a more diverse relationship-building model, mature organizations experience a direct impact on sales and employee alignment. Nearly 70% see significant overall success by focusing on relationships across the business.
2. Social’s triple threat (easy, efficient, effective) impacts more than marketing
Social media’s ability to reach wide audiences with content in real-time—combined with its ability to quickly laser-target segmented audiences—make it an incredibly effective media channel.
In the study, 72% of respondents reported that social media’s efficiency was so beneficial to their business that it even helped them improve the efficiency of their other media programs. This includes targeting and personalizing its marketing campaigns across all its digital channels. In some countries, the only media Mapfre buys is on social media because it’s so inexpensive for its targeting capabilities.
And while social media’s role in customer engagement is more established, organizations are now also using social media to achieve broad cross-organizational benefits. Programs like employee advocacy create greater value in brand health and internal engagement, along with efficiency in areas ranging from strategy to sales.
The benefits of employee programs have become even more apparent during COVID-19. Ochsner Health System’s advocacy program—which includes 300 ambassadors—became an essential part of their communications strategy at the outset of the pandemic. They recently promoted a “COVID Hero Diaries” series along with a video featuring the CEO announcing free childcare for health care providers. “These are stories that they’re proud of,” says Alexandra Gaudin, senior digital content specialist at Ochsner Health. “The stories resonate with our brand ambassadors, who are proud to work for a company that is doing that initiative.”
3. Social shifts culture, and culture transforms business
Social media can help to build the cultural foundation that is necessary for digital transformation within the business.
Not surprisingly, organizations with mature social programs are much more likely to have broad social adoption across the organization.
Having broad adoption of social media prepares organizations for the multifaceted approach needed for digital transformation. Companies should leverage steering committees, working groups, and employee engagement programs already in place to better support internal changes within the organization. Around 66% of respondents agree that their social programs have helped transform the business.
In order to truly see transformational change, organizations need to invest in broad social adoption at every level of the organization—and get buy-in from executives. Executive support can have a major impact on a company’s ability to integrate social across the business.