Social media and Omnichannel marketing: how to build the bridge

Peter Desmyttere
March 13, 2018
⏱ 5 min. read

Social media teams or marketeers usually limit themselves, in practice, to conducting social media campaigns. Sounds logical. Still: this does not correspond closely enough to the world that your customers live in, who think and act in full omnichannel mode today. But how do you build a bridge between social media marketing and omnichannel marketing? How do you seamlessly integrate a social media campaign into an omnichannel campaign? And how do you make social media marketeers think outside the box and draw up integrated plans and schedules with colleagues that manage other complementary channels? In this article I will give you some answers, tips and advice on how to transform social media campaigns into omnichannel campaigns.

I drew my inspiration for this article not only from my daily practice, in which I counsel marketing teams in a planning campaigns: two international studies helped identify the problem even more clearly: one Australian study that taught us that almost half of all customers communicate with the brand through five channels on average (both offline and digitally) and another Deloitte study that claims that multi-channel customers (who experience a brand through multiple channels) spend 3 to 4 times more than customers who are approached through only one channel.
 
Have you, as a social media marketeer, found the key to multichannel (e.g. blog, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram)? Great! However, reality has shown us that it is now time to take the next step: to embed social media in an omnichannel strategy with a view to approaching customers and prospects. The advantages for you, as a social media market here, are not unimpressive:

  • Your social media campaign will be strengthened through complementary channels.
  • You will receive more feedback from complementary channels to improve your social media campaign even further.
  • You will gain a better grip on your customer's customer journey.

The latter is very important, because modern campaigns use the customer journey (the purchasing path of the customer) as a starting point more frequently than ever before, rather than basing them exclusively on their channels. Social media has a big advantage compared with other (off-line) channels: it acts as a communication medium, not only before, but also during and after the purchasing process. Example: a visit to a showroom or a store is just a snapshot in the customer journey, considering that the customer also continuously follows the brand on Facebook. Social media is, therefore, one of the driving forces behind a good omnichannel strategy.

The customer or consumer is fully prepared for this. Moreover: he or she expects to receive the same message or experience, regardless of whether this is delivered through social media or another channel. Does this apply exclusively to B2C communication? Absolutely not: the same laws apply to B2B marketeers.

Read on for five concrete tips or steps to bring social media marketing out of the isolated environment of the social media team and integrate social media campaigns into an omnichannel strategy.

1/ Appoint an omnichannel manager

Having different marketing teams or types of marketeers collaborate on the same project is a special challenge. Each team or marketeer will use different processes or planning tools. To get past this without a lot of discussions, the best plan is to appoint an omnichannel manager within the marketing department. This person is ideally positioned to coordinate the various channels – using the customer journey as the basic principle – to achieve the most ideal customer experience.

2/ Define the most important touch-points with the customer

As you have read earlier on in this article: omnichannel campaigns put the customers first and use the customer journey as their starting point. It is, therefore, of crucial importance within your marketing team to get a good grip on the customer journey and the most important touch-points with your customer. Social media marketeers have a unique impact on the customer journey, because they usually have more touch-points with the customer than other channels.

Download a customer journey template from our website

3/ Plan campaigns across channels and teams

Once the customer journey has been charted out, the omnichannel manager has an important task to do. He/she will now need to coordinate the individual planning processes of the various marketeers or marketing teams. In the simplest model, these processes involve a variety of Excel files that comprise a reasonably uniform logical basis. However, in a more complex scenario the individual parties responsible for the various channels will all use different tools and processes. Whichever way you look at it: it is the task of the omnichannel manager to achieve a uniform campaign logic that can be understood and used by all marketeers involved.

4/ Use the power of technology and make use of digital tools

The planning tool used most frequently by marketing teams is … Excel. There's nothing wrong with that: Excel is easy to use and allows you to draw up a plan in no time at all. Still ... the bigger your marketing team and the more complex your campaigns are, the more difficult it will be to work in Excel. At a given point in time you, as a team, will need to take the step towards overarching digital tools – like Husky ;-) – which bring together the plans and schedules of all marketeers involved. Based on a social media perspective I can identify two scenarios here:

  • Simple scenario: you do not have a digital tool with which to organize your social media content planning => you can start up, connect or integrate with an overarching planning tool without any problems.
  • Challenging scenario: you are already using a digital tool specifically developed for social media planning => the challenge consists in making your plan visible for your colleagues who manage other channels, and to make their plans visible for the social media team.

Whatever your scenario is: don't use the technology as your guiding principle, but base your actions on the benefits of developing an overarching strategy for planning purposes together with your colleagues.

Omnichannel is, however, about far more than just planning software. CRM software (contains all customer conversations) or marketing automation software can play an important role in the integration of social media communication within an omnichannel strategy to reach the hyper-connected customer or prospect.

5/ Set standards for internal communication

Is the omnichannel machine fully operational and are you – as a social media marketeer – one of its driving forces? Great! However, the machine needs more than technology alone to operate. You will need to plan person-to-person consultation and communication on a regular basis to continue successfully setting up and managing omnichannel campaigns. It's a good idea to schedule specific omnichannel meetings that will allow you to consult and make plans with your colleagues in other disciplines. 
Here are some examples of internal communication:

  • A contact manager can submit last-minute content to the Social Media Manager.
  • Information from the chatbot is relayed to Social Media.
  • Applications for product information via social media are forwarded to Inside Sales. 
  • CRM can let Social Media know that a specific customer is eligible for a discount or reward.
  • A complaint on Twitter is taken over by Customer Care.  
  • Negative buzz on social media is forwarded to Customer Care.
  • The advertising team includes hashtags in its campaign message.
  • A customer, who complains on social media that they receive too many emails is approached by the email team.
  • After installation, a loyalty manager gives Social Media ready-to-use images that the customer can share via social media.

Are you motivated to integrate your social media strategy within an omnichannel strategy and would you like more explanations and examples? Let's talk!

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