(This article was first published in Marketing Magazine’s blog on 13th September 2013)
If you’re going to be a comedian you have to be funny (or, social media vs social business)
Nearly a year ago I wrote about a client asking if we could use another term other than social media. She wanted to convince her CEO of the need to pursue a social business strategy but realised that ‘social‘ in his mind meant the ‘Likes’ of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest et al.
Many executives still haven’t realised the impact of social networks because they either don’t have time or find it difficult to keep up with all of the networks. In many cases they just can’t see the value of social media.
To convince the C-suite of social’s merits the focus needs to stem from the very heart of the business and the business’ objectives, creating opportunities and solving problems, not making decisions based on technology and trends.
It’s understandable that the social media space can cause debate or even confusion at the top end of management. Communication options may have exploded, but business fundamentals haven’t changed.
Your CEO: “If you come to me with a request for budget and resources for social media, to make it a priority for our business, you will lose every time. If, however, you link social media to our business priorities and objectives demonstrating how content and engagement will empower the business, you will win every time. Social media must be an enabler to our business, just show me how.”
We recently ran another ‘Where are you at with social?’ survey with our data/Twitter base and here are the top five findings:
- 80% use social media for their business,
- 53% do not integrate with other marketing initiatives,
- 79% manage their social internally (unchanged from last time),
- 50% either don’t have clear social KPIs or don’t know how to measure them, and
- only 30% say that top management is aligned with their social media strategy.
The overall takeout for me is that social is not sufficiently integrated, accountable or aligned with business top management. It’s a timely moment to differentiate between a social business strategy and a social media strategy.
Social business strategy versus social media strategy
Adopting a social business approach is so much more than deploying social media tools. There’s an important difference between a social business strategy and a social media strategy.
A social business strategy starts with a vision for how social media will improve customer and employee experiences and relationships and therefore aligns social media initiatives with business goals and opportunities. This is an approach and a philosophy.
A social media strategy outlines how a business will employ social networks to engage customers or employees. This is a conversation enabler.
For a social media strategy to work (externally) you need to be a social business (internally) or… if you’re going to be a comedian you need to be funny.
CEOs and senior management are measured on business performance, so the place to start is to understand their priorities and align social with their business objectives. From here a groundswell is created that will require internal collaboration, resources, policies and guidelines, training and budget.
Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO, salesforce.com has said: “In the future, successful businesses will be ‘Customer Companies’ – companies that connect with their customers, partners, employees, and products in entirely new ways.”
This requires vision and leadership towards an open and collaborative company culture. Here’s a good example from Zappos.com. If we couple our (internal) business objectives with better understanding our (external) customer expectations, preferences, opportunities and challenges then we have a perfect social storm.
From here you can begin to deliver a consistent, connected and customer-centric experience online, through mobile and in the real world by modernising and improving the complete customer and employee lifecycle.
Initially there will be small steps to demonstrate the premise for delivering on KPIs. Once this stage has been crossed then there will be buy-in, involvement and understanding from the CEO and throughout the business.
The biggest challenge that we see is that businesses perpetuate a mode of management which cultivates silos and this is causing them to lose market momentum. Many of today’s leading companies are in danger of becoming obsolete and they just won’t know until it’s too late. Ignorance is bliss until it isn’t.