Forrester’s book Groundswell made the power of social media tangible with real-world examples and laid out a framework to help onboard organizations. However, many companies today still struggle to benchmark their social media journey, manage bottom-up social activities, and prove the ROI of social media activities. The new chapters published in the just-released expanded and revised edition of Groundswell highlight some best practices. Here are some of them:

  • Understand why you are embarking on the social journey, and connect social media objectives to the company strategy. Ask hard questions like “Will my social presence help move the customer satisfaction needle?”, “Will it help sell more products?”, and “Will it deflect costs from my service center?”.
  • Treat social media as another channel in which to engage customers. Customers still want to call you (a surprising 67% of the time), email you, and chat with you. Make sure that your processes, policies, and communicated information are the same across all channels — traditional and social.
  • Connect your social media efforts. There may be many social media technologies used within your company. Ensure that there is some level of coordination between internal organizations so that you can uphold a consistent experience and brand for your customers.
  • Start small and staff social media initiatives with existing employees who understand your customers and your business. This is important to help extend your brand — your DNA — to your social channels.
  • Put a framework of continuous improvement in place. Ensure that you can measure the efforts of your social media programs so you can benchmark your success as you optimize.

A significant number of companies have embarked on the social media journey; in 2011:

  • One-fifth of companies have not started using social applications. Having a highly conservative, top-down organizational culture and being in a highly regulated industry are two key reasons that companies remain dormant.
  • One-third of large companies use one or more social applications. However, these applications are scattered throughout the company and yield data that is typically not shared beyond the walls of the organization. Also, the success of these programs is typically not measured.
  • One-third of large companies have coordinated social media strategies and programs. This means that they have a clear social media strategy and road map; they use a variety of social media technologies; and they use these technologies in a well-coordinated, cross-organizational effort with strong, roles, responsibilities, policies, training, and  governance.

The new Groundswell chapters have interesting case studies from Home Depot, Eileen Fisher, Dell, USAA, and IHG. The takeaways for business process pros that support customer service are that you need to put processes and technologies in place so that you can effectively listen to and enagage with your customers and act on their input in a way that supports and reinforces your brand.