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Social media: measure what matters

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Companies need to tie social media measurement to business metrics that really matter to their organisations rather than getting caught up in buzzwords such as ‚engagement’, ‚sentiment’ and ‚reach’. That’s according to RICHARD MULLINS of Acceleration.

It is good to see that many South African companies are looking more carefully at measuring social media metrics as they roll out their social campaigns. But they also need to think carefully about what it is that they are measuring and how it relates to their business goals.

Many companies are measuring the performance of their social media campaigns using a range of analytics and online reputation management (ORM) tools. With these tools, they are able to get some idea of their social media reach and perhaps even a feel for marketplace sentiment. They may be able to identify brand advocates and detractors and get a sense of their reach and influence, or identify how many people are talking about their products or sharing their content.

What most brands are not yet able to do is to understand how social media ‚engagements’ map to business outcomes such as customer conversions or how much their investment into social media channels is costing them against the value it delivers.

It’s nice to know, for example, that sentiment about your product is largely positive. But it is somewhat meaningless unless you can understand how that translates into visits to your Web site, customer conversions or increases in customer Web searches for your products.

The challenge that most companies face in digging deeper into social media data for the answers to really important business questions is that their marketing data exists in silos spread throughout the enterprise ‚ CRM systems, email databases, Web analytics tools, social platforms and more.

Once organisations start putting the right enterprise architecture in place, they can begin to draw information from a range of sources to answer more complex questions. The fundamental question that companies must ask themselves at this point is not which social media metrics they want to measure, but what they want to measure about their business.

This means you’ll start out asking very different questions. Rather than asking about Klout scores or followers, you’ll be asking how customers interact with you in social environments and how these translate into the actions you desire from them. You’ll start asking how social media acts as a branding vehicle, a direct marketing tool, or a combination of both. Each of these strategies may have value, but the question is which of them is right for your business and its desired outcomes. You will look at social media measurement tools and technologies in a completely different way and begin harness them to make social media work for your business.

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Telcos want one face

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The investments that telecommunications service providers are making in reshaping their online properties into customer-centric portals reflects the growing maturity of self-service and Internet uptake in the industry, says KEVIN MELTZER of Consology.

Many telcos around the world are overhauling their websites to offer customers more holistic portals that give them a single point of entry into the organisation.

They are doing so because they recognise that service will be a key point of differentiation for their businesses in a market that is becoming increasingly competitive. They have also realised that they have a major opportunity to shift customers away from expensive contact centres towards low-cost electronic channels.

In the past, most telecommunications operators ran multiple sites across multiple domains and subdomains. These web-based properties were built around the way that telcos structured their own businesses rather than around the needs of the customer. But we are now seeing the leading operators take a more user-centric approach to the way that they design their web and mobile sites.

This coincides with a change in the industry from slicing customers into numerous segments and then serving them across a range of functional and product areas. For example, many operators split customers into prepaid and postpaid segments or voice and data users, distinctions that are becoming less meaningful in a world of technology convergence. They now want to present a single face to the customer rather than servicing the subscriber through silos.

These changes are starting to percolate through to operators’ customer service and sales strategies. Telcos are starting to pull together disparate products and services that once resided across multiple sites into customer service portals.

These sites put a wide range of information at the subscriber’s fingertips, he adds. Increasingly, for example, subscribers can log directly into their accounts from the operator’s homepage and then access a wealth of services and information. This marks an evolution from the fractured and inconsistent customer experience of the past.

Leading operators are even thinking about how their Self-Service platforms should be integrated with social media strategies to allow customers to pay their electronic bills or top up airtime with a single click from within a social network.

Whereas Self-Service portals on telco sites were once purely about account management functions, they increasingly offer far richer functionality. In addition to allowing subscribers to pay their bills and check their account information, they are also increasingly becoming the first stop for service and commerce.

Operators have started to recognise that splintering their e-commerce, service and account management functions simply makes no sense. Customers want to be able to do everything through one interface rather than needing to visit two or three Web sites, or eventually possibly needing to phone a call centre or visit a store for certain transactions.

Integrated and easy to use online customer service channels will be central for telco operators who want to be competitive in the markets of tomorrow. They form an advantage in an industry where it will be customer relationships rather than cost or service that drive loyalty and purchasing decisions.

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Talk for less with MWEB Talk

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Today, MWEB announced its consumer VoIP package called MWEB Talk, which allows users to make free network calls and get discounted rates made to landlines and mobile phones.

MWEB, today launched its new Voice over IP (VoIP) offering to South African consumers. The service, MWEB Talk, will offer users’ free on network calls to fellow MWEB Talk users’ and cheap calls to landline and mobile phone numbers. This follows the success and demand of the ISP’s existing VoIP products in recent months.

‚”We have seen a noticeable transformation in users’ Internet behaviour with consumers wanting services that complement their ADSL connectivity solution. We have seen phenomenal growth and by the end of the year will deliver over 100 million minutes on our VoIP platform,‚” says Carolyn Holgate, General Manager of MWEB Connect, the ISP’s Consumer and Small Office/ Home Office Division.

MWEB has made significant investments in its infrastructure and VoIP has been prioritised on its network to ensure performance and stability of the MWEB Talk service for both businesses and consumers.

‚”In addition to the high quality of the service, MWEB Talk is also simple to set-up and users’ should experience a significant reduction in their telephone bills. By implementing a VoIP service consumers and small businesses can cut their monthly telecommunication bills by up to 55% to landline and mobile numbers,‚” says Holgate.

With no subscription fee, existing MWEB customers can log into their MWEB account, register for the service and download the application for PC and Mac as well as mobile applications that turn an iPhone, Android, and Nokia smartphone into a VoIP phone. Customers will also be able to purchase a Desktop VoIP Handset for R99 which will be HD voice ready and will support multi-extensions.

‚”We believe that VoIP is the future of telephony in South Africa and we are extremely excited to see the consumer market shift into the VoIP space,‚” concludes Holgate.

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