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Enabling relevance at scale in an always-on, always-connected world
In an age of information overload and unlimited choices, smart marketers know that brand engagement is driven by providing precisely relevant experiences that attract and hold the attention of each consumer.
Consumer relevance cannot be episodic. Maintaining relevance continuously as consumers move seamlessly from one interaction point to the next is a new demand of the digital age. The imperative for consumer relevance requires a brand to harness deep contextual knowledge about each consumer and apply it intelligently to create persuasive experiences at every touchpoint. This ability to be “relevant at scale” will determine which brands win and which brands get lost in the war for consumer attention.
The social media phenomenon has not just created a new channel to communicate; it has fundamentally changed the ways in which people interact. As companies expand their focus from being relevant to being relevant at scale, they would be wise to consider the role that social media could play in enabling that transition.
Podcast: Social Media Strategy in an Always-on, Always-connected WorldJason Breed, Social Media Practice lead for Accenture Interactive, shares how companies are maintaining relevance as customers move from one interaction point to the next—online, in the store, or even on the go.
To deliver relevant experiences at scale, companies need to be able to tap into the wealth of data sources that provide valuable signals on what can attract and hold consumer attention at any moment in time—not just data about geo-location, gender and age, product preference or purchase, but also likes, interests and who they talk and listen to. With the explosive growth in the use of social media, social networks provide a richness of data that can help build more precise insights into consumer context and will allow companies to tailor brand experiences making them more compelling, more persuasive and more relevant.
To date, general appreciation of social media’s power has rarely translated into dynamic strategies that lead to relevance at scale. That may soon change as companies learn to use social media to transform how they engage with customers, collaborate with internal and external partners, and align their operations to a common purpose and a new vision for high performance.
Here are three primary ways to embrace social media’s potential:
Industrialize engagement - Social media allows users to draw unprecedented volumes of content and ideas from trusted sources such as Facebook and Twitter. Companies that clearly articulate their social purpose and use social media to harness actionable insights, stand to benefit most.
Supercharge collaboration - Rather than fearing the use of social media in their organizations, business and IT leaders should manage and encourage it as a way to service customers more effectively. Many companies have recognized that social media can change the traditional ecosystem of the workplace and can allow employees to work better and smarter.
Transform operations - For social media to contribute to an organization’s pursuit of relevance at scale, information can no longer remain packed away in different functional areas. Companies increasingly need to integrate multiple sources of customer data using real-time analytics, and then make sure the right people are able to use the knowledge generated to support ongoing relationships and more personalized products and services.
In addition to enabling breathtaking numbers of simultaneous interactions, social media allows users to draw unprecedented volumes of content and ideas from trusted sources. News is one example. Not long ago, people relied on television to provide them with what local stations believed was relevant information. Today consumers are as likely to pull news from the Twitter feeds and Facebook pages of people in their networks, or set up “like” preferences, Google+ or RSS feeds to personalize their news. News consumption has, in a sense, become a “curated” activity that is ultimately under one’s own control.
Shopping has evolved in a similar way. Consumers control more of the experience by being able to quickly compare prices online to find the best deals. They use devices in multiple ways—from scanning barcodes for additional information, to photographing items for further consideration, to completing transactions with the swipe of their phone. Perhaps most important, they can use social media to shape or confirm their preferences. Who has not sought out reviews and recommendations or asked friends for feedback when making a purchase—from apparel, to home appliances, financial investments or insurance policies? Social networks enable this on a scale previously not possible.
The workplace environment is also changing. Access to information has historically been dictated by hierarchical organizational structures. In this paradigm—and under the watchful eye of the IT organization—senior executives are trusted with sensitive data and insights, while lower-ranking employees generally must secure various permissions first. It’s no surprise that employees routinely look for ways to circumvent barriers to access. If their company won't grant access to the data that will help them perform their jobs more effectively and efficiently, they will find it elsewhere—namely, in the vast knowledge and data repositories of their social networks. A number of companies have shown what is possible when key stakeholders from within and outside the organization are allowed to generate and share ideas in an open, unfettered environment.
For social media to contribute to an organization’s pursuit of relevance at scale, information can no longer remain packed away in different functional areas. Companies increasingly need to integrate multiple sources of customer data using real-time analytics, and then make sure the right people are able to use the knowledge generated to support ongoing relationships and more personalized products and services. Companies that want to get serious about delivering a precise and relevant experience to their customers need to create a social media-ready organization. This could mean:
The chief marketing officer is often the right person to take the lead in making these changes. But he or she can’t do it alone. CEOs must be engaged in driving change, empowering cross-functional collaboration and aligning incentives around a common purpose. And all employees must support the creation of a relevance-driven business in a social world.
March 12, 2012
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