Social media is the lifeblood of nearly all businesses—big or small. This is especially true for direct-to-consumer (DT) or business-to-consumer (B2C) models.
And when you think about it, it makes sense! There are 4.62 billion social media users worldwide, and even if roughly 20% of those are duplicates, the reach any business can get from leveraging social media is absolutely astronomical.
If you’re on platforms like TikTok or Instagram, you know how easy it is for one product to go viral, and suddenly the entire trajectory of the business changes. It isn’t uncommon to see brands go from a few items sold per day to literally thousands!
The bottom line is that there is lasting value to be found in social engagement and creating an online persona for your business.
However, not all businesses are successful in leveraging social media for operations, marketing, sales, and other primary business functions. But why? If social media is so powerful, why doesn’t it work for everyone?
Just like everything else in business, social media is a tool. The keys to successfully using social media are proper planning and excellent implementation. Microsoft Social Engagement is one of the tools you can use to streamline your social media presence and increase your reach.
What is Microsoft Social Engagement?
Before we go into the nitty-gritty of how Microsoft Social Engagement can help your business, let’s discuss what exactly this platform is in the first place.
Let’s take some words from Microsoft itself:
“Microsoft Social Engagement allows organizations to listen for keywords and phrases on social media to help them understand customer sentiment and engage in conversations about their products and brand.”
But what does this mean, exactly?
Basically, Microsoft Social Engagement allows businesses to pay attention to what people online are saying on online platforms in order to understand how to better connect to their audience.
Microsoft Social Engagement is a part of Dynamics 365, which is a comprehensive CRM and is packed with plenty of other features that help businesses improve overall operations and management.
Let’s go over the specific modules inside this MSE to get a better idea of how it works.
Modules within Microsoft Social Engagement
Microsoft Social Engagement has changed a lot over time. A handful of years ago, around 2017, the platform had six modules:
- Search Setup
- Social Center
- Activity Maps
- Social Selling
- Message Center
These modules did different things with the same unified goal of helping businesses engage with and pay attention to customer sentiment. As the platform evolved, its main modules changed as well!
Here are the main functions you can perform on Microsoft Social Engagement:
Social insights, from the name itself, allows you to view interactive analytics for social media conversations—giving you insight into what potential customers think about your business and what the general sentiment is across different sources.
With Social Insights, you can even utilize sentiment tags and intent identification software to get a better “feel” of what your customers need and how you can service them appropriately.
The ability to track customer sentiment is a powerful tool to help you and your business react appropriately to situations as they arise. Because the information is updated in near real-time, you’re assured that you have the best information possible to act on and base your decisions upon.
Reputation is everything. During a time when customers and the general public can hear about bad news the moment it hits social media, staying up-to-date with your brand’s reputation has never been more critical.
Although challenging to manage, paying attention to brand reputation is made easier with Microsoft’s Social Engagement platform, which allows PR and marketing professionals to get a better grasp of social media conversations surrounding certain products and services.
In effect, public relations professionals can then tailor-suit their brand approach based on industry sentiment.
If you work in this field, you have the option to get notified about the following:
- Any PR crisis in your industry;
- Recent significant changes to the social media in your industry;
- Potential PR events;
And so much more using intelligent analytics to serve your brand’s needs.
The key benefit of Brand Reputation is the idea that your PR or marketing team will not miss out on important, industry-related developments because they will be alerted if any major changes occur.
This is especially valuable in a high-speed field like marketing, where time is always of the essence.
Social Care is all about engagement. This portion of the platform allows community managers or CSRs to engage with customers in a meaningful, intelligent way. We’ll see later on why customer engagement is so important and why you absolutely need it in any business.
With Social Care, you can even use automation to automatically (and intelligently) designate social posts to key individuals so your team can follow up on customers when applicable.
Social Selling is all about building credibility and helping your sales team gather and convert more qualified leads.
This module will allow you to collect information about your customers and how they interact with your business and products. In effect, you can generate trends and time-compounded insights about how best to convert warm leads and increase conversions across the board.
With Social Selling, you can leverage your social media presence to improve engagement with your customers and generate more valuable lead lists.
How Can Microsoft Social Engagement Improve Your Business Processes?
Enhancing Customer Engagement
Regardless of industry, one thing businesses have to do is pay attention to their customers. A business needs to understand the following:
- What customers are saying;
- What customers need;
- Industry sentiment on specific products or services;
- What customers feel like current products or services lack;
- How businesses can better serve their customers by responding to pain points.
Enhanced customer engagement is an excellent way to improve business processes because it allows your business to move in the right direction. Without assessing customer feedback, even the best brands would not be able to make the right strategic choices.
Often, many founders make the mistake of thinking that they are the end consumer when that isn’t usually the case! All business owners have to remember that end consumers typically do not have the context behind what they’re selling and may have a completely different perception of your product or service.
Before starting a business, this can mean conducting market research or a feasibility analysis of a product or service. However, the need to understand customer sentiment doesn’t disappear when you’re already running a business.
Organically adding Microsoft consulting services to your DDDM approach can help you gain better insights into your customer’s sentiments and enhance your decision-making process. By leveraging Microsoft’s Social Engagement platform, you can collect valuable data about your customers and use it to improve your customer engagement strategies.
The more you engage with your customers, the better you will be able to understand their needs and how your business can service them.
Creating Connections With Customers
In a survey of more than 1000 people, Sprout Social found that nearly 60% of consumers are willing to increase spending for a brand they feel connected to. And if you pay attention to influencer marketing, you will quickly see proof of how valuable genuine connection is to customers.
After all, a content creator you follow recommending and vetting a product is much more likely to convert potential customers than a random ad placement online! The reason for this is the increased connection customers have with the people recommending your product or service.
Connection-based marketing leverages:
While Microsoft Social Engagement does not automatically empower your business with those values, it is an excellent way to begin the journey of connection with your customers or audience.
Because the platform is designed to listen to customer sentiment, you have the opportunity to pay attention to what customers really want and how you can use those needs to guide your connections.
If a customer feels seen, they are much more likely to buy from and patronize a specific brand.
Of course, it’s essential to be genuine about this whole process. Listening to your customers with the sole intention of selling them something isn’t a great precedent for an excellent business-customer relationship.
Developing Action Plans
Any insight, no matter how powerful, is of little value unless actually put to use through a concrete action plan. To maximize your utilization of Microsoft Social Engagement, it’s crucial to take the data and actually act on it.
By using information from MSE and Avenga.com, you and your team can:
- Listen to customer sentiment;
- Engage with customers;
- Determine how best to respond to customer needs;
- Use user-derived data to create a solid action plan;
- Implement action plan using near real-time insights from MSE.
It’s crucial to remember that each step of that process is integral to achieving success with your action plan. You can’t stop at #2 and expect excellent business results—it simply doesn’t work that way.
If you create a plan and actually follow through with it, you are giving your business a much higher chance of success because you’re already doing two things many companies fail to do, and that is listening to your customers and acting on what you learn from them.
Always let your action plan be a reflection of what you can do for your customers and not just what you think is best for them. The latter is the pitfall of many new founders and business owners, so make sure to keep a close eye on how you respond to feedback.
Perhaps one of the more underrated perks of Microsoft Social Engagement is the benefit of centralized operations. When all your social media engagement data and insights are on one dashboard, it’s so much easier for employees to reach for that data.
This is especially useful for large businesses that operate across different departments and need help with organizing operations. The value addition of centralized operations may be less visible in smaller, tight-knit organizations.
Nevertheless, it’s incredibly valuable for companies to have a centralized repository of data. It reduces work time and increases efficiency because employees don’t need to pull information from various insight sources because they’re all in one dashboard.
Is Microsoft Social Engagement Worth It?
At this point, you might be asking yourself if Microsoft Social Engagement is worth your coin and if your business *really* needs it.
Based on an objective analysis of the platform’s features, we definitely think it’s worth your money! While your business may not need this specific software to thrive, it is an incredibly nice platform to have in your software stack.
It’s Free with Dynamics 365
One of the most admirable selling points about Microsoft Social Engagement is that it comes free with a Dynamics 365 subscription with at least ten professional users. So if you fit within that criteria, then you can get access to the platform at virtually no cost!
Do note that the regulations for this may change at any point, so just make sure to stay posted about recent developments.
It’s Easy to Use
Another of the perks of Microsoft Social Engagement is that it’s easy to use. Other software similar to Microsoft Social Engagement has quite a steep learning curve and may take some getting used to.
While the platform isn’t intuitive to anybody who doesn’t work in the marketing and PR space, it’s still pretty easy to use if you have experience with social media insights.
Nevertheless, the platform has a pretty neat user interface, and even beginners should have no issue learning the ins and outs of the software.
It’s a Powerful Platform
If nothing we said above has managed to convince you of how Microsoft Social Engagement can improve your business, just keep in mind that it’s a powerful platform. MSE can do things most software cannot, and just that fact alone is already a good indicator of how it can help your operations.
Wrapping Up Microsoft Social Engagement
The social media space has now evolved into a behemoth. Heritage brands use it, small startups use it, and even small B2B (business-to-business) companies leverage social media.
In this day and age, the simple truth is that social media rules many aspects of operations. Businesses can use it for lead generation, the sales cycle, and so much more. With proper utilization, customer engagement on social media platforms can be a true game-changer for any business.
But implementation isn’t always easy, and having the right tools in your arsenal can drastically increase your chances of success. Microsoft Social Engagement is one of the ways brands can improve business processes and streamline engagement for the better.