Social media usage inside companies is expanding far beyond the Marketing department and is now a core piece of digital transformation architecture, according to Hootsuite CEO Tom Keiser, who replaced founder Ryan Holmes earlier this year.

Holmes is now the Chairman of the company.

“Social media started as a sub-department within Marketing that was mostly focused on amplifying messages out, while allowing some listening,” he told Which-50 during an interview to coincide with the release of the company’s Social Trends 2021 report.

Now, however, as with messaging platforms, social media platforms are becoming a form of communication into companies, where customers can comment on the product. 

“They’ve got service issues, some of those are urgent service-related issues, or they may have product-related questions. And they’re replying back to the mechanisms that the brand has made available to them,” he said.

As a consequence, responsibility is falling back into the lap of the social media or Communications department. “ And then those departments are either trying to answer without the needed information, or trying to get the question into the right entity’s hands to be able to respond.

“So what is happening on social media management platforms — like what we do at Hootsuite — is we’re building that workflow. [We are] really taking the silo and the walls down to start connecting it into the workflow of the company.”

This is becoming more common, and it is helping to overcome the reluctance many larger corporations have had around social media, where in the past they saw it largely in terms of branding messages.

“Some of the acquisitions that are happening right now are being made around both internal collaboration and external collaboration. For instance, Facebook buying Kustomer.

He said he believed this demonstrates a growing maturity within companies about the potential of social media to transform companies.

Keiser said companies are starting to realise that social media can help drive efficiency and value beyond Marketing and Communications. 

While Marketing and Communications departments understand this, the understanding of that value is spreading out across organisations, he suggested.

“In particular, employee advocacy for creating greater value in the brand health, [and]  employee engagement to improve efficiencies in areas ranging from sales to recruitment.

“The spread of social media across the organisation supports digital transformation starting with executives and extending throughout the organisation,” according to Keiser. He said social media was able to support employees and business functions, raising skill sets and creating value.

“And we’ve seen that accelerate as COVID-19 is spread around the world.”

Social Trends 2021

Among the key trends Hootsuite says is identified in this year’s Social Trends report:

  • Social is bridging the gap to a new customer experience, delivering short-term return on investment with targeted-performance marketing tactics while building innovative digital experiences. It can win long-term loyalty by bringing discovery, connection, and fun back to the customer experience.
  • Brands are finding their place in the conversation. Smart brands sit back and listen, then win with creative, original ways of fitting into the social conversation to break through the wall of indifference.
  • A generation overlooked by digital marketers is booming on social. By using smart segmentation and thoughtful representation, marketers who include baby boomers in their digital strategies can leapfrog those still stuck in stereotypes.
  • Tying engagement data to identity gives advanced brands new momentum.
  • CMOs will use the intelligence gathered by social media teams in 2021 to help organisations adapt to new buyer beliefs, new ways of doing commerce, and the new path to growth.

The report is based on a survey of 11,189 marketers in Q3 2020.

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