Saturday, November 19, 2011

Changing the Social Media Conversation in Your Company

As an integrated marketing graduate student, you get the privilege to experiment with a variety of new marketing tools and no topic is hotter than social media monitoring. Radian6, Social Mention, and Netbase all give you access to a variety of information, including trending topics being discussed and customer sentiment. Another unique tool, NodeXL, visually lays out different segments in a network while allowing you to find the key influencers. As marketers, we understand the benefits of analyzing the conversations taking place in the social sphere, but convincing the rest of the organization of the benefits is a lot more challenging. The best way to answer the question, “how does social drive sales?” is to integrate your social media objectives with those of other departments. Let me now show you how the information generated from social media impacts four departments of an organization.

Customer Service: Ask any marketer that is paying attention to the social media space for an example of which company is doing it best and I have no doubt that the company they mention is utilizing it for its customer service benefits. If a customer is unhappy or has a bad experience with a product, you are not only losing that customer, but most likely potential customers they are tied to. So rather than standing by idle, outside of the conversation, it is important for brands to stop the bleeding before it spreads.  Not only does this have the ability to recapture a lost customer, but actually makes them a stronger brand advocate than before the incident. Everyone loves a personal touch and social media offers that opportunity for a direct connection.

EXAMPLE: Best Buy has over 20 employees dedicated to responding to customer service issues, 3,000 socially trained retail employees, and 26 unpaid super fans that are rewarded in recognition. (

Advertising: Your latest and greatest advertising campaign is just about to saturate the airwaves all over the country. After utilizing focus groups, you are extremely confident the impact will be favorable. The campaign launches and now thanks to the power of social media monitoring, you can immediately gauge the effectiveness and consumer attitude towards this campaign. You now have the ability to adjust or amplify the message to obtain the greatest positive impact.

EXAMPLE: A “Got Milk” campaign meant to last two months was pulled shortly after launching due to an overwhelming negative reaction online claiming the AD to be sexist. (

Product Innovation: The most successful products come from customer insights and your research department works tirelessly to observe consumer behaviors in order to generate quality leads. Netnography has been gaining momentum as a new method to evaluate consumer interests and help generate insights that lead to product development.  Who has a better idea of what your customer is talking about on the internet than your existing social media team.
EXAMPLE: In 2010 Gatorade pushed social media to the center of their marketing department, literally, when they developed a social media “mission control” room that monitors a live stream of topics that are relevant to their brand. While it serves multiple purposes, one of their primary goals is to seek out potential product innovation opportunities.  (

Sales: Are you looking to answer the ROI question for social media? What better way to do this than to generate leads for your sales department through monitoring for opportunities online. Being able to monitor for key phrases that might lead you to potential customers is a powerful way to drive sales and add substantial credibility to any social media initiative. Once you find the prospect, do not jump in with your sales pitch quite yet. Help them solve their potential dilemma first, then consider the appropriate method by which your company’s needs can be of further assistance.

EXAMPLE: Anchor Bank in Wisconsin focuses on delivering useful information that addresses financial questions and fosters relationships that turn into leads. (

While it may not have the exposure of traditional media, social gets you much closer to your customers and gives every company a variety of benefits. While I only chose to highlight these four departments, you will find even more applications for this information source as your social media strategy integrates further into the entire company.  For further information on this topic, I highly recommend reading “The 10 Stages of Social Media Business Integration.”

by Evan Kroft (@ekroft)
Graduate Student at Northwestern University


  1. Online ethnic advertising is a unique solution that we provide. We combine our Internet marketing knowledge with ethnic advertising expertise, offering solutions for advertisers wanting to reach ethnic minority consumers. To know more about Ethnic Advertising and Internet Marketing agency visit our site.