The 5 Pillars of a Social Business
Integration of Culture and Technology
In the digital age, there is a lot of conversation among marketers using buzzwords such as inbound marketing, content marketing, social business, etc. Depending on context, each phrase has its place. In this context, I wish to offer a framework for any organization of any size to consider for becoming a social business. Of course, I welcome comments.
Social is in the C-Suite’s DNA
In a social business the executives either have the social gene, or they acquire it. It’s not enough for the executives to say “sure, we should use social media” without truly understanding the value to the business and at some level participating in it themselves. In a social business, it’s not all about how they use social media. It’s about why they use it. It boils down to engaging with people. Business is about people. At some point the how comes into play. But, the how is addressed after the why is embraced by the C-Suite. The organization has to have a culture that encourages employees to be social. There is a difference between executives supporting a social strategy and being a social company. The latter has social in their DNA whether natively or by acquisition. If by acquisition, that’s okay provided it’s authentic. The C-Suite often acquires the social gene when digital natives get partnered with execs to mentor them, resulting in a social DNA transfusion.
Marketing is Not a Department
No matter how many staff members you have in marketing, it’s not enough in the digital age. The reason has little to do with workload. It has more to do with the changed behavior of your buyer. Today’s buyer is not easy to reach through traditional marketing tactics. The modern buyer wants to be engaged with value through relevant content and person-to-person engagement. Consider that in most businesses, the domain experts of the business are not in the marketing department. No offense meant. But, it’s obvious. The knowledge workers such as nurses, lawyers, engineers, developers, customer service staff, etc., are the ones who deliver their employees product or service everyday in their respective organizations. The role of the modern marketing department is to identify the key message points tied to target personas and then harness the story-telling from the best story tellers in the organization in a community-style manner that catches fire because it’s so valuable and authentic.
Employees Are the New Marketing Department
As stated above, the domain experts are the new marketing department for two key reasons. First, buyers want to engage with people, not canned marketing messages. When employees share their expertise and engage with buyers, authentic conversations happen, which can lead to sales conversations buyers actually welcome. Additionally, democratization of content production has been enabled by social media. Anyone with access to the Internet can produce content. Marketers who embrace the employee’s brand potential gain benefit to the corporate brand when the two are converged purposefully.
Social Business Technology
It’s well documented in studies by published IBM and Deloitte,/Sloan Management among others that CMOs across the globe are struggling with the explosion of data. Additionally, they’re struggling with successful implementation of social media. The availability of social business tools and technologies is both a blessing a curse to the modern CMO. The blessing stems from the power of scheduling, analyzing, monitoring and measuring social media activities made available to marketers from social business providers such as Crimson Hexagon, HubSpot, IBM, Jive Software, Marketo, Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce Marketing Cloud and others. The curse is the complexity of the decision process to select one of these technology platforms, not to mention the day to day implementation. The onboard process can be daunting for marketing teams with an overwhelming workload. However, the pros by far outweigh any challenges. With good planning and the proper resources, social business technology can transform an organization’s ability to reach its goals.
Data Driven Mindset
Successful use of social business technology requires a data driven mindset. A social business is focused on KPIs and metrics that align with the organization’s business goals. Every business (even non-profs) exists to get and keep customers. The data driven mindset starts with this mantra. Using data to measure contribution to getting and keeping customers is the start. As a social business matures, it learns ways to measure its activities in ways that support the business revenue goals, along with other key business goals as defined by the C-Suite. The most successful social businesses have figured out that when CMOs and CIOs collaborate well, the overall business performance improves.
In the modern marketing era, culture and technology integrate in successful organizations. These integrations marry the human element, which has always been important in business, with social technologies for improved business outcomes. The social business journey is one that requires collaboration among a diverse mix of human talent. The right culture without technology, or the right technology without the right culture doesn’t cut it. The modern business understands this. The modern business is a social business.