Management Tools

Social Media Programs

Social Media Programs

Social Media Programs allow individuals and organizations to interact with their employees, friends, customers and partners electronically across a range of devices.

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Social Media Programs

Social Media Programs allow individuals and organizations to interact with their employees, friends, customers and partners electronically across a range of devices. Social Media is rapidly changing and is used for four primary purposes: communication (driving awareness, sharing content and providing customer service), commerce (selling products directly and getting referrals), collaboration (sharing ideas and getting feedback) and communities (fostering connection with the company and within customer and employee groups). Social Media options include everything from online community pages and micro-blogging platforms to company-operated websites and forums to social gaming.

Usage and effectiveness among survey respondents


  • Note, usage of social media varies by region; higher incidence in North America balanced by Europe and rest of world.
  • Discussions with executives suggest that business units are launching social media experiments, which may not be reflected in this survey as they are not corporate efforts.
  • If these experiments are successful, Social Media usage is expected to rise as more companies move out of "testing" or "trial" phases.

How Social Media Programs work:

To use Social Media effectively, managers need to take the following steps:

  • Understand what Social Media tools your customers are using. Determine what they are saying about you.
  • Decide which additional tools are most valuable. Prioritize the four primary purposes and determine which Social Media tools to apply to which purposes in collaboration with which partners.
  • Deploy Social Media tools across all aspects of the customer experience. Attract and retain customers by allowing them to share and rate new products, make purchases or receive advice from the company about using the product.
  • Develop testing and learning capabilities. Use customer feedback to improve services and increase loyalty. Develop insights into customer behaviors and needs with research and analytics.
  • Integrate targeted messages. Ensure that Social Media methods and messages are consistent with the company's brand positioning and other marketing campaigns;
  • Promote the new tools. Raise awareness of new tools with customers, employees and other targeted audiences.
Related topics Bain capabilities

Companies use Social Media Programs to:

  • Strengthen branding
  • Communicate with customers and employees
  • Generate product awareness
  • Sell products
  • Obtain referrals
  • Share ideas
  • Solicit feedback
  • Build communities
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Selected references

Bernoff, Josh, and Ted Schadler. "Empowered." Harvard Business Review, July/August 2010, pp. 94-101.

Brogan, Chris and Julien Smith. Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust. Wiley, 2010.

Gossieaux, Francois, and Ed Moran. The Hyper-Social Organization: Eclipse Your Competition by Leveraging Social Media. McGraw-Hill, 2010.

Israel, Shel. Twitterville: How Businesses Can Thrive in the New Global Neighborhoods. Portfolio, 2009.

Li, Charlene, and Josh Bernoff. Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies. Harvard Business Press, 2008.

Scoble, Robert, and Shel Israel. Naked Conversations: How Blogs Are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers. Wiley, 2006.

Solis, Brian. Engage: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web. Wiley, 2010.

Sterne, Jim. Social Media Metrics: How to Measure and Optimize Your Marketing Investment. Wiley, 2010.

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