Everyone’s talking about integrating social media into our everyday business. Whether you have a small local business or are a global enterprise, everyone is interested in the best way to incorporate social media practices in some way to solve their business challenges. As with any disruptive technology there are no shortages of short-sighted integration strategies. Initially we all focus around the new shiny toys/technology then we focus on the people side and the individuals who are using the shiny new toys are how great they are for it. Eventually we need to evolve, to discover the best ways to integrate into our management and business practices.
Over the last couple of years, we have seen many attempts at defining the RIGHT approach. First, it was Forrester with the POST methodology where the People, Objectives, Strategy then Technology were the core focus. This approach turned everyone into strategists, albeit for the betterment of campaigns. Campaigns are how agencies are oriented, client teams organized by geography then charged with the next big idea to WOW consumers. Therefore, this is how many large companies who outsource their creative and marketing duties with agencies started “trying out” social media, through a number of well-thought out , one off campaigns. The problem with the campaign approach is that everyone figured out that if social media is about developing relationships then a series of unique campaigns could not possibly deliver on the expectations that social media marketing promises.
On the other side of the spectrum, the Dachis Group recently rolled out their methodology around Social Business Design. This approach says that the only way to compete in the future is re-organize the entire enterprise from the ground up with a framework to be a social business by design. There is some good thought here around culture, business process and technology however no company wants to be the first one to scrap decades of legacy to “try” a new way to build a company. Even if the management agrees to it, the shareholders will demand proven solutions.
So where does that leave companies? Right now it depends on their leaders. If you break out small businesses, it comes down to the type of leader that runs the company. Some individuals “get” Twitter or other tools and will figure out how to make them work best to solve their unique business challenges. Other small business leaders still need to be convinced this new “fad” will last before they invest any of their time into it. For each respective small business competing in a local market, it will come down to whomever continues to build better relationships with their consumers whether online or off. If customers feel a connection, they will patronize that local company whether they follow them on Twitter or not. It’s still that simple. Want proof? Look at how many small businesses still do not have a true website…and they have made it this far. Focus on a great product and over-the-top service and people will continue to purchase from you and spread the good word.
For larger business competing in multiple markets or globally, social business will play a larger part of their business success. The speed by which information travels socially is simply overwhelming, good or bad. Consumers have a new expectation for engagement, service and transacting. Companies who succeed will be the ones who are able to embrace this new consumer, employee, partner or shareholder and manage appropriately to those expectations. Note of caution: Simply communicating quickly does not equate to a new, successful social business. So what else is there?
Social business transformation is happening from many fronts and is yet to be perfected. But one thing is for certain, you do need to understand more than just technology and culture to truly apply social to your business. While every business is different from it’s management, employees, culture, focus, expectations, etc your consumers are still the same as your competitors. The big question then is how to win. In my opinion, those who consider the underpinnings of prior corporate revolutions will be better suited to transcend into this new age than those who continue to stay shallow in their thoughts. Consider such areas of practice such as:
- Psychology: Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs which refers to 5 basic needs including: physiological, safety, social, self-esteem and self actualization
- Sociology: which is often referred to as the Social Science, is the study of human societies.
- Network Sciences: LikeMetcalfe’s Law – which conspires that networks (of faxes, phones, computers, people, or anything else) dramatically increase in value with each additional node or user
These sciences have influenced business revolutions including the information, management and globalization business revolutions that have helped shape the pace by which we operate today. The question is how the new Social revolution will re-shape traditional business practices today and in the future. Less discussed movements like social production, cognitive outliers, the wisdom of crowds and distributed transparency will certainly help shape this business revolution and the companies who embrace these learnings will emerge as leaders in the future. The only way to get your businesses out front will be to look beyond the shallow dialogue like openness, authenticity, transparency and building relationships that is prevalent today and start understanding how the sciences will continue to influence business and consumer expectations.
Social, Managerial and Organizational Dimensions will all have an impact on both intra-organizational and inter-organizational aspects in social business integration. To take us through this week’s conversation will be a true change agent in her own right, Kristi Colvin. Kristi has a tremendous amount of experience leading corporate integration of disruptive technologies. She will lead us through a series of questions to help challenge us to think deeper in managing our organizations through this monumental, customer led sea-change that is upon us. The topic and questions follow:
Topic: Socializing My Business – What Comes After the Chit-Chat?
Q1: Why do we even need to integrate social into our businesses?
Q2: How should you begin to socialize your business and what should you expect?
Q3: What does social business integration look like for employees & the company?