Customer Experience: Death of Social Marketing,Rise of Social CareSocial media is moving away from the Facebook and Twitter days of social marketing. Instead, it is breaking off into two discrete domains: 1) as a platform for social marketing, and 2) as a platform for social care. 

So what exactly is the difference between social marketing and social care -- and why should you (and your organization) bother with it? One word: intelligence.

Social Marketing vs. Social Care

Let's start with a definition of social marketing. Companies have increasingly used social media to launch marketing campaigns. They initiate offers and promotions via Facebook fan pages or tweets. Customers can interact with the brand by “liking” posts, retweeting or posting comments, questions or complaints to a company website.

With every interaction, the communications reach a targeted market of friends, influencers and demographically desirable circles of influential customers and prospects. Social marketing is about tapping into social networks to create resonant, effective marketing campaigns. For the most part, these social interactions are maintained by marketing or promotions managers.

Social care takes this many steps further. While social care involves analyzing social media feedback, the concept is much more holistic, with a focus on intelligence throughout every step of the customer experience journey. Social care is about collecting and listening to social media data, analyzing it, routing it to the right stakeholders within the company, engaging with the customer to close the loop, and measuring the impact of all social care actions.

Breaking Down the Social Care Cycle

Yes, I just gave you a mouthful of a definition about social care. It’s a complex concept, but one that has the ability to be a real game-changer for an organization. Let me break down the five components of social care in more detail.

Social media data is flooding in every second through different sources (Facebook, online forums, Twitter, review sites, reddit, YouTube, etc.), in different formats (text, video, audio, etc.), and in different languages. Intelligently collecting and listening to social media data is the first step in the social care process. It’s about isolating the surrounding “noise” and listening across as many touch points as possible to form a detailed, 360-degree view of the customer.

Now that you have all this social media data, what do you do with it? Step two is intelligently analyzing the data to identify and understand the most relevant, actionable insights. By fully understanding the Voice of the Customer (VOC), one can make informed business decisions based on customer feedback.

For most organizations, if a campaign generates product or service feedback, the insight is not generally routed to the departments actually in charge of the business operations. The most brilliant insights are useless if they are not routed to the right stakeholder. Intelligently routing is quickly getting insights, inquiries, complaints and requests to those agents and departments most qualified to address specific content in real time. Intelligent routing also promotes inter-departmental collaboration to solve business problems … which leads me to step four.

Now that the right stakeholders have the right information, intelligent engagement can take place in real-time (or as close to real-time as possible). Direct, personalized, closed-loop customer engagement is the heart and soul of customer care. It gives businesses the opportunity to create lasting relationships with customers and find up-sell or cross-sell opportunities.

Finally, intelligent measurement closes the loop to the social care cycle. Measuring and documenting every touch point is imperative, not only to measure sentiment, volume, satisfaction changes, but also document your Return on Action (ROA).

Why Should I Care About Social Care?

Still not convinced that social care is right for your organization? Let me give you a few more reasons why it is.

It’s Lonely Being Alone

While social care relates only to social media, it can be a critical piece to a more holistic, global care strategy within an organization. Channels such as customer opinion gathered through surveys, emails or call-center data for example, can be combined with the social care program as part of a larger, global care strategy. As a company intelligently interacts with its customers over time, it is able to build out a more comprehensive and nuanced profile of customer interests, influences and drivers of loyalty, profitability and promotion.

Bigger Scope, Bigger Returns

Social marketing has always been spearheaded by marketing or publicity departments. As such, the customer feedback gleaned from social marketing campaigns has largely stayed within the confines of those teams. Social care, however, is relevant to a broader community of departments that are focused on customer experience.

As I noted above, within a social care culture, the insight is intelligently routed and built into the daily operations of the different organizational departments, including but not limited to, customer support, product quality, store operations, product management and customer loyalty. As a result, the teams who can best impact direct change based on customer feedback can do so in a timely, streamlined and efficient manner.

The Known vs. the Unknown

Social marketers often market disproportionately to prospects – the potential customers who have not shared a lot of (or any) information about themselves with the company. However, companies structured around social care benefit from being able to access a deep understanding and knowledgebase of their customers. If someone has already bought something from the company, he or she has provided contact information, product or services preferences, location preferences, etc. This insight can be used to understand the type of customer your product or service appeals to, and can also be used to more efficiently engage with customers.

Needless to say, social marketing is hot today and perhaps “social care” does not seem as sexy or as exciting as its marketing counterpart. But social care is equally, if not more, valuable to the majority of customer-centric organizations. It is this paradigm that will bring about the most pervasive change in how companies strategically position themselves as customer-focused brands.

Title image courtesy of Dirk Ercken (Shutterstock)