The events of this year have accelerated the adoption of digital in all areas as many businesses look for new ways to connect with employees, prospects and customers. And social media has a key role to play as we reimagine how we connect digitally.
The case for rolling out social-first, enterprise-wide change is building at a compelling rate. It can be tempting to want to get ahead of the curve. But, in our experience, the case for running a social business transformation pilot program is just as undeniable.
We know from HootSuite’s The Social Transformation Report that socially mature businesses – those that put social at the heart of their business – reap several advantages. They:
- Are 40% more likely to build strong relationships that benefit the business
- Are 33% more successful at driving brand health
- Are 18% more likely to be able to attribute a sale to social media
- Increase employee engagement
With so much to gain, adopting a social-first approach seems a no-brainer, right? Before you rush in and roll-out social transformation across your business, start with a pilot. A pilot program will provide you with invaluable learnings and data so that when you take the decision to scale your program, your enterprise-wide roll out will be a success.
Here are three compelling reasons to run a pilot before launching a social business transformation program.
1. A Pilot Helps You Prove Your Concept
You may have statistics that demonstrate the power of a social-first business - or even case studies of similar companies where it's given them a competitive advantage business-wide.
These statistics and case studies are invaluable for helping to create a business case for implementing business-wide social change. Yet to scale, the C-Suite will want to see evidence that it can drive ROI and better business outcomes across your organisation.
Your social-first pilot is extremely unlikely to prove the return in terms of winning a multi-million-pound deal or dramatically reducing recruitment costs. We know that B2B sales cycles are complex and typically take 6-9 months to close. With the pandemic, LinkedIn’s recent State of Sales Report 2020: Europe Edition found that 44% of sales representatives report it taking longer to close deals.
But if you run your pilot for six months (not two or three months, which is never enough), it should give you indicators of the broader metrics, such as an increase in:
- the number of leads
- LinkedIn SSI scores
- customer satisfaction survey scores
- social reach and engagement
- earned media values
- employee satisfaction survey scores
- talent referrals
2. Early Social Champions Are Your Best Promoters
No matter how compelling the evidence to support any change project, there will always be sceptics that will say, "It won't work in our organisation" or "It won't benefit my team or me."
A pilot gives you the chance to enlist a small tribe of what we call Social Champions to help prove that it will work. They are the employees already using social successfully in their careers – whether that's for marketing, sales or establishing themselves as a thought leader. They'll be enthusiastic about getting onboard and helping you show that it can work.
Your Social Champions’ stories of success are what will ultimately sell in your program to the wider organisation - much more than your internal communications message. Sharing how it has benefited your Social Champions’ goals and careers, combined with the metrics that prove it, will be what appeals to the hearts and minds of the naysayers and doubters.
3. Control Your Investment: Learn Your Lessons
As we’ve seen, the results may speak for themselves. Yet every company is different, and those differences extend beyond industries, including where your employees and customers sit within the 9 stages of social media maturity.
Even if you draw on an external social business transformation partner who’s rolled out similar programs, your strategy will still need finetuning. You’ll learn lessons from wins and fails and that’s okay.
Those lessons and mistakes are best learned through a pilot program. We’ve seen businesses invest tens of thousands in social tools for their organisation but then see low adoption rates and lacklustre results. Yes, it can be fixed, but it’s harder to get buy-in second time round. It’s best to control your investment and keep the budget for when you’ve optimised your strategy.