Post by Adi Englander
Brands believe social channels are only to create engagement. That’s not true, the channels can do much more than that. In this article, I’ll discuss how social media can assist brands in managing projects.
Alternative B2B channels
Some studies have found social media is not as effective in garnering B2B leads as are time-tested lead-gen methods like business events, trade summits, and telemarketing.
Such studies, however, are inconclusive.
B2B content marketing has lately been centering around social media. See the graph below:
Social media’s competitive edge has its roots in alternative B2B channels, which at times supplement inside sales or conferences (e.g. Google Hangout), increase the number of client referrals via video marketing (e.g. YouTube), and directly connect the recruiter with the employee (e.g. LinkedIn).
Such channels are accessible 24/7, have built-in tools to help marketers track the progress. Premium versions come with a slew of features such as networking with potential leads, analytics monitoring dashboard and many more. Social platforms allow lead nurturing alongside lead generation.
Most B2B managers can’t fathom social media’s importance for project management, and that’s chiefly because their understanding of the industry is archaic, so to speak. Social media can allow for innovation, save project management costs, and facilitate communication.
A project lifecycle is complicated. Problems might show up any time. Below, you can see a visual representation of the lifecycle:
An early diagnosis can save plenty of money and time. It’s possible only when inter-team communication and client communication bottlenecks are gotten rid of.
How can social media be of help in this?
Social channels can offer shared spaces like online communities, which employees can use for project information inflow and outflow. The channels can also ease communication, and give workers access to an array of tools.
Social media can save project management cost. Imagine a project requires the involvement of 20 employees, split in 4 teams, each team consisting of 5 members. The teams need to communicate with each other. They need sharing and collaboration tools, they might also need virtual workspaces that can accommodate real-time interaction.
Hiring a team of developers to build an internal project management environment is costly. Virtual workspaces, on the other hand, connect employees and increase their productivity at a relatively low cost.
One such tool is Producteev. It makes task management simple. Another one is Yammer. A product of Microsoft, Yammer is a social network for employees, assigned a project. The shortcoming of both these tools is they cover individual aspects of managing a project. Modern integrated project management tools engulf all aspects including document management, raising the invoice, reporting, etc.
Project managers, especially those who work in IT domain cannot risk keeping social analytics and project management separate. They may have to pay a hefty price if they do so.
A competitive edge for project management lies in deriving information from data. Today’s cutting-edge analytics tools can offer project managers information instead of data. Data visualization, which increases the efficiency of social campaigns, is the latest fad in analytics. See below an example of this:
Figure 2 shows mapping data using geographic coordinates can be presented in a visual form. The information such visualizations yield, can uncomplicate the project management work. Fellow writer John Dietrich did an excellent analysis of how data visualization can benefit social media professionals.
You can doubt his analysis, but you can’t doubt numbers, provided by the US-based management consulting firm Mckinsey & Company. According to McKinsey, social analytics tools can reduce the project management cost by nearly 15-20%. All project managers should know this.
Stefan Ahrens correctly compared analytic consultants to doctors and IT projects to patients. Patients need doctor’s advice, IT projects require insights that only analytics reports can supply. An analytics-driven approach can help managers lower cost, save time and have a better grasp over information.
KPI and outcomes
KPI is an acronym for Key Performance Indicators. Of late, it has become a crucial factor in a project lifecycle. Below is an infographic detailing the importance of SMART KPI for projects:
Project managers can use KPIs to create a benchmark, which can give performance related updates on projects. Such updates predict outcomes related to the delivery of the project. The predictions are mostly accurate.
Brightpod is a web-based project management software that delivers managers information regarding project performance.
Useful but expensive, Brightpod has cheaper alternatives. One such alternative is KissFlow. It costs only $3 a month. Its built-in KPI can dynamically generate a process report, making it easy for managers to gauge outcomes. It also allows for the integration of cloud-based applications.
You might want to call these tools web applications instead of social media. That hardly matters because social media is an all-encompassing term, and all the web and cloud-based tools mentioned above offer a social framework, so workers can interact.
Hence, let’s put aside terminological dissonance, for good.
Social media 2.0?
The cross between social media and project management introduces brands to a hybrid interface – a productive social environment, where people don’t waste time chatting but collaborate with each other to get the job done.
Can we call it social media 2.0? You be the judge.Adi Englander is a freelance writer and social media expert who writes for Gerris digital, a full-service digital strategy firm in the Washington, DC, area.