The power of social media as a business tool is rapidly proving its worth, time and time again, despite a few lingering skeptics who would question its value. Furthermore, in the world of business intelligence (BI), social media tools offer myriad new resources for companies looking to gather information about their clients and develop a holistic viewpoint of each customer, which will ultimately help them improve products, service and the customers’ overall experience.
Indeed, social media can deliver huge BI value to corporations. But there’s also a flip side to consider. When not properly approached, defined and executed, social media can pose serious challenges to the business, its reputation and risk brand damage.
Only doing half measures when it comes to incorporating social media into your customer journey and data gathering, will result in frustrated customers and a degradation of customer loyalty. There can be no nascent commitment to using the channel and data gathered otherwise at best you add zero value to the business after committing time and resource. Many customers these days take their complaints onto social channels in order to get a fast resolution. However, resolution necessitates utilising the information you already have in other channels.
A first critical step for organisations working to develop an effective social media plan is to ensure that they have a proper handle on the existing channels used to glean data about their customers, and that these systems communicate with one another. Known as ‘data governance,’ this discipline must be consistently employed enterprise-wide before a company should even consider incorporating information from social platforms.
Ultimately, this is a process and structure for formally defining and managing information as a resource and as an asset. It ensures that the appropriate owners representing business processes, data and technology are formally involved in the decision-making and administering of data policy.
Data governance is a fast developing discipline that has yet to mature, but is on a fast track to universal adoption. Only after a company has its data governance under control should it begin to think about approaching social media governance, which carries with it a whole new set of risks and opportunities. Organisations that approach social within the framework of a data governance discipline will be far more successful in their social media endeavours.
Many of the challenges data governance faces relates to organisation wide adoption and demonstrating value to the key stakeholders. This includes funding, and just getting organisations to understand what it is, how it drives business performance, and how to implement it. The same challenges can be extended to social media, as many pro-socialites face an uphill battle in explaining to the entrenched what social media is and how it can benefit the company. However, data governance within social media is even more complex and immature and best practice from those who have gone before is basically non-existent.
Organisations are flooded with information and have yet to figure out what is important, how to organise it, store it, secure it, and use it effectively in the business process. Social represents a brand new source of information about the customer and also a new channel by which to manage that customer relationship. This requires a formal strategy, and one that is devised and executed within the realm of a data governance discipline.
A well executed social media governance strategy can elevate an organisations’ business intelligence capacity because it allows them to capture information that is not available through traditional sources. Social allows for a better understanding of buying preferences and behaviours, as well as relationships between people, entities, products, and services. Best of all social is real time, there is no delay between going to market with your question and attaining feedback that may be out of date by the time you come to apply it.
Very few organisations today have a social media strategy, let alone a data focused one, designed to boost their business intelligence. In order to get there, businesses will require formal strategy and oversight by a data governance body which should have the infrastructure and intellectual capital to step up to this challenge.