How to manage social media

Why social media is becoming one of your most strategic business management tools.

Over the past five years, social media has evolved from an extension of a company's public relations efforts into a strategic business tool. Today, the savviest companies understand that social is as much about relationship management, product development, risk management, and human resources as it is about marketing.

It is at once a powerful source of business intelligence, a tool for building authentic personal connections at massive scale; and a way to improve measurement of marketing and advertising performance. Little wonder that some companies today run social media war rooms where executives across the organisation can track social metrics.

Here are eight ways that leading companies are using social channels to boost the performance of their businesses that go far beyond the obvious uses of customer service, marketing and reputation management.

1. Social listening to understand customers' needs and desires

Social media chatter can be a great source of information about what customers really think about your products and services as well as what they really want and need from your category. It's unfiltered data that gives you a more accurate view of what people's needs, frustrations and wants are than you'd get from most market research. The biggest plus is that you can get a view of what consumers are looking for, what they like, and what they don't like in their own language.

2. Gathering competitor intelligence

Listening to social media isn't just a good way to track customer discussions about your own brands and products - it can also give you an interesting perspective of what customers think of rival products and brands. This can help you understand your own strengths and weaknesses compared to the competition so you can craft better marketing messages.

3. Measuring marketing performance

Social listening tools can yield interesting insights into the performance of your marketing and advertising campaigns, in turn increasing the accountability of your agencies and internal teams. You can get some worthwhile quantitative data - are people talking about the campaign and how much of the conversation has a positive or negative tone - as well as qualitative insights - do the conversations show that people are taking the right message from your adverts?

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