How BT saved 75% on their social listening tech spend
Disjointed social strategies can result in a huge amount of excess spending as they often involve multiple tech vendors and unnecessary duplication of efforts.
At Demo Day 2022, Adam Mills, Marketing Strategy and Central Planning Manager at BT, walked us through how the organisation managed to significantly reduce their social listening tech spend by centralising their efforts and streamlining their tech stack.
About BT Group
BT Group is one of the world’s largest communications companies, with 14 million UK household relationships and 1.2 million UK business customers. The organization also provides 50% of 5G coverage in the UK.
It consists of multiple sub-brands such as
- BT, the flagship business brand
- EE, the flagship consumer brand
- Plusnet, the core value brand
- Openreach, the infrastructure brand
In 2018 BT Group underwent a rebrand taking a digital-first approach - a monumental task given this included all the sub-brands too.
Auditing existing systems for the new BT
As part of this rebrand, Adam’s team needed to develop a social strategy for the new BT. This presented a challenge. “We knew where we wanted to be, but we didn’t really know where we were or what our existing social strategy looked like,” explained Adam.
So, the first step was to audit the current set-up to understand the full complexity of the social infrastructure and architecture within BT Group.
They worked with their existing tool sets, and social content, procurement, finance, brand and technology teams to better understand the lay of the land. They ran interviews and spoke with everyone that was involved in social within BT.
Breaking down the findings
The audit revealed the following:
- BT had 400+ branded social accounts. This poses a potential reputational risk as it is difficult to control 400 different narratives. It’s also important to question whether each of these accounts is distinct enough to warrant their existence.
- They had 30+ different ways of posting and publishing content. Again, this can pose a huge reputational risk as there is no control and no centralized approach to publishing.
- Across the organisation they had 25 social publishing contracts with multiple vendors. This meant that there was lots of duplication and spend, sometimes with the same vendor!
- There was no central team to manage all of it. Nobody knew what was being posted, where, and by who because this data had never been collected in one place.
- The strategy for social content sat within the teams themselves. There was no core, cohesive approach to all of this.
- They had no access to their own social data which meant they couldn’t see how their strategy was performing without paying for a report. More importantly, they didn’t have the data to inform and improve their existing strategy.
- Content and assets were essentially kept in locked boxes within teams, which meant that they didn’t share anything across the organisation. They didn’t have an asset management tool, which meant several accounts were posting the same thing but with a different look and feel.
- Because information and assets were siloed, there was significant duplication across the entire function: agencies were creating multiple assets, tool sets were duplicated, multiple announcements and press releases were going out at the same time. It all looked and felt disjointed.
The team came up with an action plan and a business case to tackle the challenges and create a long-term solution. These were the things they needed to consider for the new BT social strategy:
- Go from 400+ to 10-15 strategic social accounts
- Using a centralised publishing tool
- Building a future-ready tech stack
- Creating centralised governance with a group-wide social strategy
- Bringing expertise in-house
- Ensuring access to social data
- Building a central asset management system
- Minimising and managing duplication
- Reducing spend (Target reduction: 70%)
Developing a new tech stack
When building their new and improved tech stack, BT identified four areas to drive efficiencies: the tools needed to sit centrally; All strategic accounts should be able to access them regardless of their audience; they must meet business requirements; and it should reduce spend.
The team reviewed 50 vendors and shortlisted 10 across their requirements. From this, they built a new tech stack that was not only fit for the purpose but good value for money, and focused on tools that added value and integrated well with each other. Here’s what the tech stack looked like:
Social listening & intelligence – Brandwatch
BT needed to better understand how their brands were being spoken about online, and to identify future trends within their market. Brandwatch was already delivering consistently, so they continued to use the platform.
Organic publishing (with the potential for paid) – Spredfast
They needed a platform that was going to work seamlessly with their existing Adobe and Google stacks and that would integrate with the asset management system that was being developed. Plus, it needed to be simple and easy enough for anyone within the business to use it. So, they went with Spredfast.
Social lead gen & tracking – Google
It’s great to drive traffic to the website, but if you can’t prove that social adds value - by helping qualify a lead or influencing a sale - why would a business invest in it? The team decided to continue using Google to help them with their lead gen strategy and tracking as well as attribution modeling.
Reporting & analytics (with the ability to wrangle data and integrate into EDW) – Power BI
BT needed something that was going to plug directly into their existing data warehouse and allow them to play with that data in-platform. It also needed to be accessible to everyone, which made Power BI the ideal choice.
In total, it took the team 9 months to deliver and they ended up reducing their spend by 75%.