Many companies are continuing to realize that social business does not scale in a 1:1 basis. Your customer voices will always outnumber the number of community managers you can hire. One-to-one customer service models on social networks may work well now, but as time goes by, we’re creating an expectation for customers online that we can’t meet forever. As the collective online conversation grows every day, maintaining this direct brand-to-customer conversation with every customer will be impossible. The help desk model simply can’t scale.
At the Social Commerce Summit 2011, Jeremiah Owyang’s keynote addressed of one of the biggest challenges ahead for social strategists: Scale.
To avoid getting trapped in a one-to-one service model, companies must act now to build sustainable, scalable social programs. Here are Jeremiah’s five tips to escaping the social media help desk, further illustrated with examples from our client base.
1. Formalize a Hub and Spoke model.
According to Jeremiah, companies typically organize their social media use in five ways.
1) Decentralized. Anyone in the company can use social however they choose. No organization.
2) Centralized. The company’s social efforts are run by a centralized person or team, usually in corporate communications. Most companies start here.
3) Hub-and-spoke. The company branches out from its centralized social control, involving new individuals and teams. The central hub outlines corporate social policies, and triage social efforts to the spokes based on different roles.
4) Dandelion or multiple hub-and-spoke. Suited to large, international companies that are composed of multiple, distinct brands that act with a high degree of independence from the central organization.
5) Honeycomb or holistic. The entire organization uses social media in an organized way. Social content flows freely across teams and platforms.
Achieving honeycomb status takes significant social maturity – Zappos and our clients Dell and Best Buy are among the few companies approaching this level, Jeremiah says. His advice: formalize a hub-and-spoke this year to make sure your social efforts aren’t relegated to customer service.
2. Become an enabler for business units
You can never hire enough community managers or deploy and manage efforts. Therefore, set up a “Center of Excellence” at the Hub to support and enable business units
3. Scale with peer-to-peer communities
Building a social culture of peer-to-peer conversation – rather than one-to-one, brand-to-consumer conversation – is critical to scaling. Rather than responding to every tweet and Facebook post, work to create a culture in which your customers and shoppers help each other.
4. Formalize a customer advocacy program
An advocacy program is different from a loyalty program. Don’t just reward customers for their continued business; reward them for spreading the word about your products and submitting their opinion.
5. Streamline workflow with SMMS
Social media management systems help your company manage SM accounts and conversations across multiple platforms. Investing in these systems now is important to scaling social activity, Jeremiah says. Among other benefits, SMMS programs allow for scalable moderation across social networks, to help your company moderate out content deemed inappropriate or libellous.
Enjoy this recording of Jeremiah’s full SCS11 presentation, featured below.