People are at the centre of almost every business. Customers, shareholders, staff and other stakeholders are increasingly having conversations online via social media platforms. So whether you like it or not you are in a social media business. To avoid the risk of not knowing what is being said about your brand, developing a ‘social business’ strategy is vital. Let’s explore some of the elements of what social businesses are doing.

One thing that separates a good company from a great company is how much they focus on the customer. Great companies are relentless in their quest to give the customer what they want. If ‘the customer is always right’ then the fact that 65% of the Australian population is on Facebook might tell you something about what the customer wants. The innovative brands know this and are rethinking how they communicate with their customers. It’s not just about doing media differently – it’s about being social and open.

These businesses are thinking carefully about building ‘sharing’ into every communication their brand has. They see their role now as being part of a conversation, enabling an eco-system of communication around their brand. They are thinking carefully about how to build ‘social design’ into their digital assets to ensure these conversations have the best chance for viral spread.

Social businesses are also embedding social media tools inside the business. Communication platforms like Yammer are enabling teams and individuals business-wide to communicate and collaborate. This is driving innovation by breaking down the traditional approach to internal communications. It allows innovative businesses to develop new KPIs and rewards for highly active and engaged staff members. Having an internal social strategy is not so much about changing the way your staff work, but using technology to increase productivity.

The next frontier in businesses going social is how they communicate with shareholders. This is more relevant for listed companies, but private companies would do well to think through the issues. Shareholders are increasingly communicating online about the strategy of the companies they have invested in. Social businesses are not only encouraging this but trying to enable it. The logic to this is if you can’t stop conversations, which no business can do, then you can participate to reduce risk or even better create the platform for the conversations to extract even more intelligence.

The concept of the social business is now mature enough to draw from the successes and failures of other businesses when developing your strategy. The tools and techniques are now well tested and developed. Creating measurable return on investment models is easily manageable. ‘Going social’ is now less about experimentation and more about developing a competitive advantage. We have seen what happens when industries are slow to respond to the developing digital market. Make sure your business is not struggling to catch up by starting your social business plan now.

 

Mark Cameron
BY Mark Cameron ON 29 May 2012
Mark Cameron is CEO of customer experience innovation agency Working Three and a world renowned digital strategy commentator with well over 400 published articles.

Specialties: Digital innovation, Digital customer experience strategy, Social media strategy, Digital strategy, Online Marketing strategy.
He blogs at markrcameron.com and tweets from @MarkRCameron.