Benefits of Social Business More Obvious to Large Enterprises
Social Business Journey Not a Quick One
The journey from social media to social business is not easy or quick. I’ve often compared it to life’s journey which begins in infancy and proceeds through phases of childhood, adolescence and even through several phases of adulthood. A social business is social both externally and internally with measurable benefits. I marvel at how some organizations seem to be natural at it, while others struggle.
As I’ve been studying the social business trend I’ve observed carefully the difference between small, midsize and large organizations and their adoption of social business best practices. Since the benefits of being a social business are still being measured with limited data available, my observations are mostly anecdotal. Sure, I pour through reports as they become available from the likes of IBM, Altimeter, E-Marketer, HubSpot and others. While they are helpful, most are based on 2012 data. And, most study large organizations.
Agree or Disagree
I offer a different form of research to inspire the journey to become a social business. It’s based on my experience running a digital marketing agency whose clients are not large enterprises. My findings are not based on a large sample which would satisfy statisticians. And, they’re not based on formal surveys either. My findings are based on our client experiences and human conversations directly with brands and with my peers whose conversations with brands lead me to these conclusions.
Large Enterprises Are Better at Social Business
There, I said it….It is easier for a large company to become a social business than it is for a small or midsize business. My arguments to support this statement fall into three categories.
C Suite Empowerment
In large enterprises, the executives usually have a global perspective about their business. They are in a better position than smaller companies to access data about trends, insights and preferences about their customers and constituents simply because they have more resources than their smaller counterparts. Additionally they are surrounded by people who collect and interpret the data into trends. Their board members often bring a similar vantage point to the table. While c-suite executives in large enterprises do not have to participate themselves in the social culture, they are able to empower executives in their chain of command to transition the company into a social business by having an intelligent understanding of its benefits.
In smaller organizations, it is often necessary for c-suite executives to lead by example especially in the under 500 employee range. When c-suite executives in these smaller enterprises demonstrate their genuine understanding of social business through their own participation, the example can have a profound effect throughout the organization. This can be manifested in many ways including a CEO blog with thought leadership content, a video channel that communicates core values and shows a human touch, a robust company blog where the CEO and other executives actively participate, etc. In a larger enterprise, the c-suite can get away with not actively participating, not that I advocate that. In smaller companies, it’s darn hard to inspire the troops without leading by example.
More SME Talent
An inherent attribute of a social business is sharing the knowledge of its subject matter experts (SMEs) through online and physical community engagement. Companies like Kinaxis, Indium, LinkedIn, Google, GE Capital, Electrolux, H&R Block among many others empower their employees to share their expertise in the form of relevant content. The larger the organization, the more SME talent from which to choose. Not all SMEs may be willing to participate in the “marketing is not a department” mantra called for in a social business. The reasons for their lack of cooperation are not the subject of this blog post…My point is that it’s a numbers game. The more SME talent in an organization, the better the odds of implementing a successful plan that produces relevant and engaging content that contributes to desired business outcomes.
Investment in Social Technology
Gartner predicts the CMO will outspend the CIO in technology acquisition by 2017. It requires technology to be a successful social business. The technology needed ranges from monitoring, analysis, business intelligence, measuring outcomes, collaboration among employees and community members, scheduling and coordinating internal resources to make it all happen, etc. In the end, the social technology should support the business’ goals the same as any other technology infrastructure.
A larger enterprise is usually in a better position to budget for and implement social business technology initiatives. In smaller organizations budget allocation for social technology is often minuscule in comparison to their larger brethren. Of course, smaller businesses may not need the same social technology as a global enterprise with tens of thousands of employees. That said, the lack of c-suite budget approval for even the simplest of social tools is more common in smaller companies. For this reason alone, smaller businesses often linger in the “social media marketing” phase longer, rather than transition to becoming a social business.
I’m covering the transformation to social business in my new digital TV show appropriately titled The Social Business Engine. On each episode I feature someone at a social business sharing their journey so that others can learn and benefit from it. You can watch episode 1 below. Subscribe to our YouTube channel so you don’t miss future episodes.