By adaptive - July 14th, 2014

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Translate complex metrics and measurements into a language that the C-Suite can understand and create a business that understands social

Over the past few weeks we’ve examined how to develop a Social Health Index and determine the value of your social media strategy. In this final part we are considering insight the boardroom can buy into and how to translate complex metrics and measurements into the language of the C-suite. The goal is to create an organisation that truly benefits from the value of social media.

Social media needs the boardroom in order to thrive across the diverse silos of the business. However, in order to get the attention of the C-suite, social must use the right language to communicate clear metrics and measurements, eliminating the jargon of social and translating it into terms that they find of value: ROI (return on investment), cost, revenue.

“The language of the C-Suite is money so any metrics and measurements that can relate social to profits will catch their attention,” says Euan McTear, Marketing Manager at Davidson Asset Management. “If social media is shown to contribute to profits, which is difficult to demonstrate but not impossible, then there is no reason why the C-suite wouldn’t be as keen on social media as those on the marketing team.”

One of the issues is that social is littered with jargon and terminology that isn’t necessarily easy for executives to understand. They don’t have the time or the inclination to learn an entirely new set of references in order to know whether or not a social strategy is working for the business.

The amount of data produced by any one social activity can have enormous value to the organisation, but it needs to be shifted from intense numbers to digestible chunks so that the analyst, social strategist and CMO all take home the same message and understand how it can be used strategically.

“Social media can be a great feedback tool to capture the mood of existing and potential customers,” says Paola Bassanese, Director of Energya. “It can be analysed for trends in consumer spending and for market research purposes. It can also be beneficial for testing new concepts and trialling new products and services with a select number of customers.”

It can do all of these things so make sure that the C-Suite understands how.

A clear picture

Executives want images and graphs and numbers that are clearly outlined and break down the information in such a way as to relate to their core competencies and functions. The CEO needs social to show how it has delivered on the ROI so they can report back to shareholders. Also, the CMO needs to see how it has impacted on brand identity and customer loyalty and the level of interaction.

McTear adds: “We have already seen that there is significant insight to be had from social. From our presence on networks like Twitter, we are constantly finding out the latest news and opinions of the pensions world and are able to translate that into how we shape our advisory products.”

Davidson Asset Management took a wealth of data from the discussion over the scrapping of advisor’s commissions to note how the movement to fee-based charging was being received and used this information to structure their own fees. They have used the feedback from social to ensure that when they give out information about their fee structures, they will be confident of them being well received by their customers and the market.

Transparency and clear benchmarks are of inordinate value to the business. A social strategy that has clearly defined goals and a route by which these are achieved is far easier for the executive to buy into.

“One of the growing needs in social media is to establish benchmarks within each industry to compare results across departments and competitors,” says Leah Pope, Vice President of Global Marketing at Synthesio. “Once companies have built the foundations for social intelligence they are then ready to connect and scale across their enterprise, making social media data visible throughout the organisation and across all systems and departments.”

She points out that real-time information from social media will allow teams to validate insights from other traditional sources, ask new questions about customer behaviour and assess marketing effectiveness and business operations.

The fact that social has a strategic role to play in the organisation and the insight gleaned from its data has enormous potential to shift sales strategies, resource allocations and customer solutions isn’t under debate. It’s the way in which this information is presented to the decision makers. Too much jargon, too little clarity and a poor value proposition will see its impact dismissed.

Get buy-in

“Using the right technology that showcases the information on social media in an intuitive and clear way is one of the most effective methods of getting management buy-in,” says Pope. “Creating a company culture that embraces social media often requires key players to understand the value of social beyond simple media buzz. If you have forward looking executives who realise how social can inform business strategy, then it becomes that much easier to create an environment where social media is widely understood and embraced.”

McTear adds that tools such as Google Analytics and Topsy have allowed for their business to assess the value of social and that, “with our social insights, Davidson Asset Management is now ahead of the game and we benefit from social in several ways we would never have thought possible.”

Social media practitioners are already well aware of how important social is for the business and they just need to change their language in order to show the C-Suite how, why and when social needs to be implemented across the organisation.

“Business needs relationships and organisations are social entities,” says Jonny Gifford, research advisor at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). “Social media can be a very useful tool and as more organisations wake up to this fact we expect it to become an increasingly normal communication tool. It can help organisations be more agile, build networks and a stronger sense of shared purpose and all these things create business value and ensure an organisation will thrive over the longer term.”

Executives need to be a part of their organisations social media activity, especially with internal social media, and now that there is an increasing array of services and solutions designed to measure and outline the value of social. Ultimately there should be no reason why the social team and the C-suite shouldn’t see eye to eye. Just stop talking in marketing and start speaking about business.

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