The Critical Role of Business Analysis in Social Media

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Fred Roed chats about the problem with social media community management to Mohamed Bray, and the critical role of business analysis in social media.

Fred Roed is the co-founder and CEO of digital marketing agency World Wide Creative and co-founder of the Heavy Chef project, dedicated to demystifying digital marketing.

Fred is obsessed with brand strategy and digital media – and was awarded “Best Individual Contribution to the South African Digital Community” in the 2015 Bookmark awards.

What’s the problem with social media community management?

We soon picked up a few clients and had to get serious. Being in a rapidly growing industry meant that we had to staff up quickly and now WWC is one of the more established agencies on the continent. With this growth, a strange thing happened. We began to notice two areas of concern for the businesses we worked with. The first was in social and the other, within their technical requirements. Both areas began to highlight significant challenges for digital agencies and their partnerships with clients. The level of understanding amongst our clients in both areas was convoluted and conflicting. As a result of this confusion, I believe many businesses made a fundamental error: they abdicated fundamental social and technical functions to agencies like ours.

So why is there such a fundamental error?

Let’s look at the example of an ex-client of ours in 2010: a large engineering firm for whom WWC fulfilled the role of social media community management. In other words, all the Facebook shares, LinkedIn posts and tweets from this company — let’s call them ‘Ajax Engineering’ — were written and published by a junior copywriter in our studio. She was given the designation of Ajax Social Media Community Manager. After the initial enthusiasm in the first month, our eager Community Manager fell into the humdrum day-to-day of posting content to social media. We quickly noticed a growing sense of frustration with the client, our team and, ultimately, our audience. A sample engagement would go like this:

Customer (on Ajax’s Facebook page): What is the Kilojam output of the Flimzalaflam on Ajax’s new Hoojamaflip?

Social Media Community Manager (shouting over her shoulder to the rest of the social team): Guys, what’s a Flimzalaflam?

Social Media Community Manager: Dang, I don’t know.

Social Media Community Manager (acting as an Ajax employee, on FB): Thank you for your query sir, I’ll ask one of our qualified technicians and get back to you immediately.

Social Media Community Manager (in a hurried email to Ajax’s CTO): Dear Ajax CTO, a customer asked a question just now, about the output of your Flimzalaflams on your new Hoojamaflips — please revert back with the answer asap and I’ll post it to FB.

Ajax CTO: [silence]

Social Media Community Manager (the next day, in a follow-up email to Ajax CTO): Dear Ajax CTO, I’d really like to respond to your customer on the Flimzalaflam question.

Ajax CTO: [silence]

Customer (two days later, on FB): Um, helloooo?

Social Media Community Manager: Sorry for the delay, sir. We’ll revert with an answer soon.

Ajax CTO: [silence]

Customer (one week later, on FB): Um, helloooo?

Social Media Community Manager: I’ll have an answer for you shortly, sir. Apologies for the delay.

Social Media Community Manager (in the seventh successive follow-up email to Ajax CTO): Dear Ajax CTO, I’ve not heard back from you yet, despite several phone calls and emails. The customer on Facebook is anxious for a response sir, any possibility you or one of your team could provide an answer to the Flimzalaflam question — ?

Ajax CTO: [silence]

Ajax CTO (one further week later, via email): 23

Social Media Community Manager (immediately, on FB): 23

Customer: [silence]

These types of scenarios carried on for around 6 months before both our team and our client realised that the system was broken. These kind of technically challenged interactions were occurring every day. Social media had become the first point of contact with customers. To abdicate this responsibility to a 20-something junior copywriter siting in a digital agency, completely removed from the company, was ludicrous. Digital and social has become core to business, and my view is that it needs a more analytical approach in order to resolve the issue illustrated in the dialogue above.

How can business analysis help solve social?

At World Wide Creative, we’ve pivoted somewhat since the heady, anxiety-riddled days of community managing dozens of clients’ social pages. We have pretty much handed over the reigns back to our clients and formed a profitable training business in the process. We now take a consultative approach, analysing the needs of each client, formulating a strategy, and then partnering to create the ideal approach to responding to the increasing pressure of the social sphere.

According to Saratoga’s Mohamed Bray, the role of the Business Analyst can be defined as someone who understands the end game of what that business is wanting to achieve, using technology as its biggest enabler. He/she therefore plays a role in championing business values through technology as the medium to realise those values and outcomes as quickly as possible.

This is pretty much the role our agency must do in order to facilitate a successful social outcome for our clients. And now, with all the analytics tools, management dashboards and exponential increase in data that social provides, it is becoming more of a necessity for companies to a) have an objective view on these functions, and b) implement the social interactions in-house.

These trends have been pivotal to WWC’s evolution into a ‘consulting digital agency’. On the one side, we partner with our clients in research, analysis and insights — with consultants looking at the data and, with a deep understanding of the client’s objectives, provide both proactive and reactive input on how to move forward. On the other side, we have our creative team who provide ideation and creative executions to bolster the interactions that occur through social. These are, after all, platforms for people — and in an increasingly noisy world, the creative messages are the ones that stand out.

The social channel is the new call centre. People are engaging, complaining, complementing, enquiring, discussing, sharing and referring online — all via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn. These amounts to trillions of interactions per month.

The challenge is no longer that of smart, energetic social media Community Managers. It also needs smart, energetic Business Analysts …

with deep technical and strategic skills to provide the solutions.

Most importantly, those smart individuals must be able to convey their solutions in terms that even my 70 year old mother can understand.

‘The Critical Role Of Business Analysis In Social Media with Fred Roed‘ was first published in the 2015 Inter-View Report. Share your thoughts on the critical role of business analysis in social media with @Fred_Roed and @Mo_Bray  on Twitter.

About Mohamed Bray

Mohamed Bray is an entrepreneur, a corporate survivor and an international speaker who advises and champions for a world-class business analysis profession.

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