How and Why Social Media Changes Companies

Social Media Management Handbook

Book Review
The Social Media Management Handbook:
Everything you need to know to get social media working in your business.
Nick Smith and Robert Wollan with Catherine Zhou.
Wiley, 2011. 328 p.

There are many books about business uses of social media. This one offers more than most: Beyond showing how companies can use social media, it also explains why.

In 18 chapters, the book places the rise of social media in several contexts: generational, technological, and economic. Chapters address how adopting social media affects a company’s marketing and sales, customer service and support, platforms and IT infrastructure, employee responsibilities, recruiting practices, and the duties of the chief information officer and chief marketing officer.

The three primary authors work with Accenture, a global management consulting, technology services, and outsourcing company. Robert Wollan directs Accenture’s customer relationship management service, Nick Smith directs marketing transformation, and Catherine Zhou directs customer analytics.

The 21 contributing authors explain why social media policies must cross departmental boundaries and isolated practices. They discuss how marketers and business analysts need to adopt new measurement methods to account for the streams of brand-related information consumers constantly post to the web. Marketing and PR managers who face a relentless demand for “Return on Investment” will appreciate the book’s observation that the return on investment in social media does not necessarily mean sales: The metrics a company creates to gauge its effectiveness and return should be shaped  accordingly. A company can define its ROI in social media from many angles, including an consumer attitudinal perspective, a behavioral perspective, and an organizational standpoint, as well as from a transactional or conversion standpoint.

The book recommends that companies adopt an emerging online communication discipline called Social Community Marketing. From this perspective, brand-building efforts evolve from a mass-marketing model (which aims to acquire as many customers as possible) to a more targeted, tailored approach that initiates and maintains genuine conversations with customers.

Because so many consumers use smart phones and social media apps, companies need to ramp up their communication efforts in the mobile field. Customers tell their friends about good and bad experiences at the very moment they’re having them.

Accenture’s resource-rich social media portal provides access to updated content and project templates.

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