How Aussie Brands Can Improve Their Social Maturity

Berlin, Germany - 05 21 2016:  Apple iPhone 6s screen with social media applications Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google, Youtube, Vimeo, LinkedIn, Pinterest, WhatsApp etc.

Is your business “socially mature”? What does social maturity mean, and how can you improve the social maturity of your brand or business? What is the biggest thing disrupting the marketing industry right now? And what will be the biggest future challenge for marketers?

These are all big questions, but luckily, we have the answers.

B&T chatted with Penny Wilson, global chief marketing officer at Hootsuite, to learn more about the toughest dilemmas the marketing industry is facing, as well as to gain an insight into the current and future state of social media and digital marketing.

Can you talk to the idea of “social maturity” and what it means?

A socially mature organisation is defined as an organisation that has integrated social company wide – from customer care to sales, people (human resources), to product development and beyond. A socially mature organisation will incorporate the voice of the customer into their culture and innovation.

Given the scale of Hootsuite’s customer base, we’ve built industry benchmarks which help us study social shifts and trends for businesses —  adding value by bringing these insights back to our customers.

This includes social maturity assessments that we’ve completed for over 600 enterprise organisations. We review their technology, business strategies, social sophistication, and other factors, ranking them relative to their industry peers’ performance. These criteria determine a business’ social maturity.

Only 40 per cent of all global organisations analysed are at the “strategic” stage of social maturity. In this stage, social isn’t siloed to one aspect of an organisation like marketing, but social is being used in a coordinated way across multiple departments. Globally, over half of companies using social media could benefit from optimising their approach to social and a digital-first strategy.

Off the back of that, what steps can Australian businesses take to fulfill the transformation to becoming more socially mature?

To improve social maturity, organisations can use social media beyond marketing to encourage other departments such as sales, customer care, recruiting and the C-Suite – to engage with their customers and employees  This helps to unlock the full potential of social to drive brand awareness, strengthen customer relationships, build competitive advantage and contribute to the bottom line.

Impressively, according to Hootsuite’s 2018 Social Barometer report, APAC businesses are leading the charge with around two thirds (62 per cent) of businesses extending the social function beyond marketing. Globally, however, this number falls to just 54 per cent.

What are some of the best practices for the Australian C-Suite who want to rise to their full social potential?
Enabling  social media’s implementation across the organisation — rather than as a standalone or part of the marketing stack, is paramount. Starting with leadership is imperative; if the CEO and the executive team are invested in and engaging with their customers and employees on social, your business is setting itself up to realise its optimal social potential.

In Australia, there are a number of senior executives that are leading the charge by really demonstrating the value of social media.

Shayne Elliott (CEO at ANZ Banking Group) is a great Australian example of how a social executive program works. Shayne utilises his LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook presence to share his thoughts on topics that he and his customers are passionate about. From developments surrounding AI, through to the recent droughts in Australia and ANZ’s support in the recovery, his social presence has given his business a personal touch, which in turn leads to increased trust in his business.

While Australian CEOs are ahead of their global counterparts, data from Hootsuite shows that 34 per cent of chief executives do not have any public social media presence.

In an era where trust on social is at an all-time low – with Edelman’s 2018 Trust Barometer Report finding that 60 percent of people no longer trust social media companies – I strongly believe more CEOs should use social media as their primary channel to rebuild trust by creating focused communities and sharing insightful, relevant content.

The Digital 2019 report found that Australians are googling themselves more than anything else, why do you think that is?

I think the reality is that Australians are using Australia as an affix to their search terms. Australia weather, Australia cricket, deadly spiders in Australia.

What other interesting stats came out of The Digital 2019 report and how is Australia doing compared to the rest of the world on social?

Our Digital in 2019 report revealed a lot of interesting data in regards to Australian social media habits, providing useful insights for businesses to use when interacting with customers.

Australian social media use (57 per cent social media penetration) is very comparable with the regions of Western Europe and Southeast Asia, however Australia is behind the likes of North America and Eastern Asia who both dominate globally with a social media penetration of 70 per cent.

Having said that, Australians are still using social media with vigour – with users on the rise and 18 million people – or 72 percent of the population – actively engaging on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter (up from 66 percent in 2017). They love Facebook more than any other social media platform with 16 million monthly average users (this stat remaining steady since 2017).

Australians are a mobile nation — with more people using smartphones than laptops or desktop computers (87 percent versus 84 percent). They are willing to part with their money to spend on their apps — particularly when it comes to love. Australians spent more money on Tinder than any other app in 2018.

Aussies are using their mobiles for more than just scrolling or streaming. Australian everyday life is being lived through smartphones — interestingly, CommBank was downloaded more than Netflix and Uber, which is a great nod to how the financial services industry is investing in consumer digital use. Overall it signals a shift to make more of our daily lives digitised. Australia is getting more digital by the day, and consumers want to be able to do more with their smartphones and apps.

One trend to watch is social commerce – where we’re seeing the best of e-commerce and social media combined to create a convenient shopping experience through direct response advertising buttons such as “shop now” to encourage action. We’ve seen this take off in Asia in recent years, and expect Australians to be soon to follow!

What is the biggest thing disrupting the marketing and social media industry right now? 

Now more than ever, maintaining trust in our institutions is becoming a major consideration for Australian marketers. In the wake of various data security scandals like Cambridge Analytica, there has been an unprecedented pressure from customers and regulators to improve security, transparency, and accuracy. In fact, according to Edelman’s 2019 Trust Barometer Report, 73 per cent of people worry about false information or fake news being used as a weapon on social media.

Employee advocacy is one way to combat this dynamic. Empowering your employees to leverage social media to amplify your brand’s purpose, value and community connection can help to re-establish this lost trust. We can particularly see the value of employee advocacy in the financial services industry. Edelman’s 2019 Trust Barometer report also revealed 53 per cent of people trust the voice of a regular employee above that of a CEO (47 per cent), journalist (36 per cent) or government official (35 per cent) – making your employees one of your biggest assets when it comes to social media.

What will be the biggest future challenge for marketers?

Marketing technology is going through a rapid evolution, and while this brings an immense amount of opportunity to empower the customer journey across entire organisations, it also brings challenges.

Two such challenges are effectively harnessing the power of the immense amounts of data we now have access to, and staying authentic as our audiences are increasingly migrating to private communities.

Data is the way forward in helping businesses align on the value of social in connecting with customers authentically, or they will miss out on developing trusted relationships. It comes back to my note around ensuring your organisation has an integrated, inter-departmental approach to social, and making sure your data use policy is easy to understand and accessible.

One way we can do this is by mapping the customer journey and aligning it across departments, then to ensure you have the right technology in place to connect departments throughout this journey for a consistent customer experience and to maximise the value of data collected.

Once you’ve successfully mapped out the customer journey, you need to think about how you measure success. Marketing leaders need to better align social media KPIs to overall business and customer KPIs to ensure they’re measuring the right metrics for social.

I’ve spoken to a lot of businesses that are still using vanity metrics, like likes and shares. A business isn’t going to really feel the impact of these. Instead businesses need to be set up to measure social media’s contribution to lead acquisition, sales and retention. Only then can you really see the true value of social media.

The next challenge for marketers is about maintaining authenticity and cut-through as audiences retreat to private communities. Bombarded by ads and irrelevant content, users have migrated into smaller spheres of influence, so it’s tricky for brands to assess how to add value in these hyper-personal contexts.

We know that consumers crave human connection online, so it’s up to us to hyper-personalise content so our audiences don’t block out information, cut off contact with brands, and avoid digital experiences that do not add value to their life. Some tactics to achieve this hyper-personalised effect are to employ conversational advertising in new formats such as Messenger, using stories to their full potential to mirror the individual’s world and increasing 1-1 human interaction.

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