social-media must-haves

Corporate social media strategists at global brands are confronting a new set of tough challenges. Enterprise executives are beginning to take notice of the socially empowered customer and looking to meet those demands.

Now, leading social strategists are starting to field requests from press relations, human resources, special events, and crisis management teams about being “more social.” Combine internal demands with an explosion of new social channels to contend with and a burgeoning volume of messages, and it’s no wonder that exists.

As if that weren’t enough, there’s increasing pressure from all sides inside the organization. According to the analysts at Altimeter Group, large enterprises average 178 social media outposts and proliferation is continuing. Sprinklr’s work on behalf of new clients actually shows the number to be significantly higher. For one Fortune 50 client, we found close to 1,400 accounts globally.

Pressure from all sides internally and an accelerating number of channels and messages puts the corporate social strategist in a challenging position and most aren’t ready for it. Most social strategists don’t know what to do when the time comes to write a request for proposal (RFP) for an enterprise-wide social platform. Sprinklr had one executive (who heads social for a major hospitality chain) admit, “I didn’t know what to write in an enterprise social RFP, so I just Googled it.” A large part of the problem stems from a deficit of common terminology and frameworks for thinking about social at enterprise scale.

We’ve been thinking about these requirements for a long time. Based on our work with more than a hundred global brands, we’ve identified six elements that every Social RFP should have. Obviously, we’re not a disinterested party (here’s our free PDF on it), but you can judge for yourself.

The six must-haves for every enterprise social request for proposal are as follows:

1. Multi-Channel management

Brands know that it is critical to deliver a consistent experience to a customer, prospect, or influencer regardless of the channel through which they choose to engage. If a brand cannot recognize that @jr123 is the same person as john.russell on YouTube, it will have a difficult time providing an experience that drives satisfaction and word of mouth. As more channels come online, global brands will want and need to integrate those into a single platform and create and maintain a Universal Profile of the Social Customer.

2. Cross-functional capabilities

The Social Customer doesn’t care if she is interacting with a Twitter account managed by a Facebook page managed by customer service. She expects that an inquiry will be received and she will get a response. Easy enough for her, but behind the firewall, this creates a set of requirements such as escalation, issue tracking, audit trails, templates, digital asset management, and more to make sure that messages can be routed from one team to another and the customer experience is unified and consistent.

3. Scalability

There are two sides to the scalability coin. On the one side, enterprises will need a solution that can be implemented in multiple countries and geographies, support for multiple languages, training, and global implementation capabilities. The other side is message volume. The social customer is still just “warming up” and we all know that message volume will continue to expand. No human (or group of humans) will be able to manage the quantity. Enterprises will need smart technology to identify, score, rank, and route messages to the right departments, divisions, and teams.

4. Social governance

Lawyers lie awake at night worrying that social media policies are being followed and access is not given to corporate social outposts without approval. Business executives fret over inconsistent brand voice and improper asset (images, logos, URLs, etc.) utilization, particularly at the local level. For both, a strong infrastructure that supports centralized control over passwords, access, permissions, and assets is a must.

5. Customized reporting

With so many stakeholders and channels, it will be impossible for anyone drafting an enterprise social RFP to predict the reporting needs of those using the platform. The critical component here is flexibility. Social strategists will have the need to offer their constituents a set of pre-configured reports, for sure, but on top of that, the capability to take various social metrics and create dashboards and reports that meet each group’s unique needs as they seek to connect social with traditional KPIs.

6. Rapid product enhancements

The social space evolves quickly, and the needs of enterprises are dynamic. Too often, enterprise software vendors are rigid in release schedules and feature road maps. While planning is important, so is flexibility, particularly in a market which is not fully mature yet. There has to be a process and methodology for developing and implementing client-specific requests.

It’s an exciting time for the social customer, and it’s an exciting and challenging time for global enterprises as they seek to adapt to new realities. As Chris Baccus, executive director of digital and social at AT&T said, it’s time to “get over the fear” and lay the foundation now for enterprise-wide social at scale.

That foundation is built upon asking the right questions at the beginning.

Jeremy Epstein is the Vice President of Marketing for Sprinklr. Prior to joining Sprinklr in Feb. 2012, Jeremy was the Founder/CEO of Never Stop Marketing, an international consulting firm which served F50 clients such as Johnson & Johnson and Microsoft. Before that, he served as the lead instructor for Microsoft’s global Digital and Social Marketing training programs.

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