CMO may tend to think of social media as a sunk cost, or as something which is compulsory since their competitors have presence on social networking sites, but CMO must realise that having fans and followers is actually one of the most important assets your brand has.

Social media is not a fad or a wasteful platform; it is a versatile platform which has multi-functional capabilities that need to be exploited.

While the marketing team can engage in running tactical campaigns on social media, the CMO must set his/her sight on fulfilling 3 strategic goals on social media:

1. Brand Building

The customer funnel consists of 3 stages – cognitive, affective and behavioral.

Cognitive is the realm of awareness and knowledge. It is about thinking of and understanding the brand. This realm is rooted in cognitive psychology.

This is the first step which no CMO can skip as no brand can be built without creating brand awareness. Zazonc demonstrated that familiarity leads to liking. When consumers are exposed to the brand repeatedly in the form of communication, they develop a liking for it.

Social media can create awareness and increase the reach of the brand through network effects.

If brands are able to engage their fans through meaningful content then people will like, share, comment, and this will increase the viral quotient of the brand, thus reaching out to the potential audience. cmo When Volkswagen ran a contest on Twitter, #AnythingForJetta, people posted quirky things that they could in order to own a Jetta. These included, dancing in the board room, selling vegetables etc.

Very soon #AnythingForJetta was trending on Twitter. Since only 3 million Indians had Twitter accounts when the campaign was launched, Volkswagen smartly created display banners on Yahoo which allowed people to tweet from the banner itself and participate in the contest. Hence Volkswagen was able to increase its reach by integrating social media with online advertising.

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Such was the effect of the campaign that after the contest, the number of Twitter users in India increased by 15%.

2. Online Reputation Management

The second stage of customer funnel is ‘Affect’ which is the realm of emotions and social psychology. Its is not enough for the consumer to be aware of the brand but they should also develop a positive attitude and liking for the brand.

This calls for managing the reputation of the brand such that it is held in high esteem. Social media can play a crucial role in Online Reputation Management.

A positive attitude can be developed by connecting with consumers in a personally relevant way. Social media provides opportunities for meaningful dialogues. Volkswagen launched a campaign for a virtual test drive of Jetta on Youtube.

The campaign took the test drives from roads to viewers’ desktops, tablets and mobiles. Users could ask questions about the car, just as they would have in a real world test drive.

The insight was that users have many questions in mind but may suffer from too much of an inertia to go to a dealer and ask. So they ask questions about the car from the comfort of their homes and offices. cmo1 Also, many test drive experiences such as 0 to 100 Km are not possible in crowded cities. Moreover, all dealers may not have a Jetta test drive model as it is financially not feasible, so a virtual experience may help to fill that void. Customized video responses were made in a humorous manner and posted on the Youtube channel of Volkswagen.

Such a campaign increased positive sentiment about the brand.

Apart from fueling positive sentiments, marketers must ensure the control of negative sentiments about the brand. Marketers may spend a long time developing a strong brand, but they will be distressed to find defamatory remarks appearing online.

Marketers need to monitor posts, comments regarding their brands and solve grievances as soon as possible. A slight delay on their behalf may lead to huge negative publicity. Many companies are now using Twitter as an extended customer care center. Notable among these are telecom companies who monitor tweets on a real time basis and within minutes an automated message is sent if a user posts a grievance.

The tweet is then categorized into a relevant bucket and passed on to the concerned person for quick redressal.

3. Customer Relationship Management:

The third stage of customer funnel is behavioral, in which marketers induce the customer to take an action, which could be a product trial, purchase or registering for an event. Social media can play a vital role in conversions and leads.

Tracking social media can help identify leads in Twitter tweets or Facebook comments which can be passed on to the CRM team for qualifying the lead and moving them on to the customer funnel.

The integration of social media with customer relationship management (CRM), also known as social CRM, is the next frontier for organizations that want to increase their ROI from social media. cmo2 Here are a few statistics about how social media can be used as a CRM tool:

  • 41% of customers believe that companies should use social media tools to solicit feedback on products and services (Cone Business in Social Media Study, 2008).
  • 43% of consumers say that companies should use social networks to solve the customers’ problems.
  • Only 7% of organizations understand the CRM value of social media, according to the Brand Science Institute, European Perspective, August 2010.
  • Before deciding whether to purchase recommended products or services, more than four out of five consumers (81%) will go online to verify those recommendations, specifically through researching product/service information (61%), reading user reviews (55%) or searching ratings websites (43%) (Cone Online Influence Trend Tracker, 2010).

CRM can happen if CMO can bring their entire website on to social media. Imagine if the car user can compare different products on the Facebook page itself and also get quotations or book a test drive online. Consumers may not be ready to purchase a car online but they can buy accessories that are needed along with the car.

Many people love the brand but cannot purchase a car, instead, they can buy merchandise such as branded caps and T-shirts from the Facebook page itself. They can also see when the car service is due and book services online.

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