As 2017 kicks off, businesses have access to a dizzying array of new technology to support their social media presence — everything from streaming live video to augmented and virtual reality to artificial intelligence.
Even with companies that are experienced in social media, the new options present a conundrum. Should you go with the technologies which you understand and are comfortable with, or experiment with newer, flashier capabilities? For companies that are just beginning to establish a social media presence, the proliferation of tools and platforms can be even more daunting and, in some cases, a reason to give up on social media altogether.
That’s one reason why more and more companies are seeking outside expertise in dealing with social media technologies. In fact, when we surveyed marketing professionals in 2016 at D Custom, 20 percent told us that their greatest need for outside assistance came from evaluating new tactics, technologies, and approaches.
While different companies take different approaches to incorporating new technology, here are some useful guidelines:
Begin With the Customer
You don’t want to add a new technology just because it’s cool. You want to make sure it works for the customer, either enhancing their experience or easing a pain point. For example, say they’re having trouble getting through to your customer service center. A chatbot system can answer simple questions, freeing up live representatives for more complex calls. Or say they’re having trouble locating your product in stores, an augmented reality (AR) app can help them find the items they’re looking for with interactive mapping. Don’t just ask, “What does the technology do?” Instead, ask, “What does it do for my customers?”
For our clients, sometimes the ideas that seem to be great at first glance turn out to be a poor fit in the end. When Facebook Instant Articles launched, we couldn’t wait to roll it out to a few customers. But after some deeper inspection, we realized that some of its features didn’t make sense for the kind of customer experience and action we were trying to create. So we hit hold and decided to reevaluate. A few months later, further research showed that we had made the right decision.
Bring in Key Team Members
Technology can make life easier for your people but, to make sure they use it, you’ll need to get their buy-in. Involve employees from sales, customer service, product design, and other key departments in your decisions to incorporate technology. Their hands-on experience can be critical in determining how a technology works in real life. When we implemented our content management tool, Kapost, we used it with one team and one customer at first, gathering feedback and insight from all sides. Then we rolled it out to the larger team.
Don’t roll out new technology everywhere at once. Instead, test it with a small budget or in one specific area to how it functions. For one client, we ran a $300 test on a content syndication service to see if it worked well. It didn’t, and we found success with another provider with whom we amped up our budget, confident it would be money well spent. Make sure you define goals — how many users it should bring in, what kind of customer ratings it should earn — and then test it against them. If it works, you can expand it to larger areas. If not, you’ll get valuable insight into why it didn’t and how it might be fixed.
Adding technology is an ongoing process. You can’t drop in a new tool and forget about it. Instead, make an ongoing commitment to your technology strategy. Measure performance so you can build on success and correct for failure. Go back to your customers and your team for feedback. Stay up to date on the evolution of your current platforms. For instance, we’ve historically been hesitant to use Facebook for B2B amplification, but a set of new features has us reevaluating right now. We’re currently running a campaign on a limited budget to see what kind of results we get. And be on the lookout for the next new technology that could transform your business. If it’s not out there now, it will be soon.