Many organizations today spend a lot of time, resources and financial investment trying to understand the social landscape and engaging externally with customers and prospects.
They are hiring community managers, strategists, agencies, and technology vendors. They are joining councils, sharing best practices with other companies and even sending their teams to get certified in social media in order to increase their intelligence of the space.
They are on a quest to become a social brand because they realize the importance and influence of the social customer.
We Get The Basics
Friends, fans and followers are important, yes. And companies increase their influence, trust and credibility by engaging in two-way dialogue with their customers, yes. Transparency is key to these external engagements, yes.
Many organizations are trying desperately to humanize their brand, they are failing to understand that they need to humanize their business first.
The social customer is not a new concept
Since the beginning of the modern business era, consumers have been sharing their thoughts, opinions, joy, fears and criticisms with their friends, family, community groups, even strangers about the products they love and the products they hate.
The difference today is that these opinions now travel well beyond the family room; and are amplified on the social web and making their way into the search engine results. Every consumer has some level of influence over others.
We Are Missing A Crucial First Step
The social customer is forcing business to implement social media internally in an effort to be more human externally. A social business deals with the internal transformation of an organization and addresses key characteristics such as:
1. Organizational models
3. Internal communications
6. Employee activation
7. Global and technology expansion
8. Team dynamics
9. Establishing a measurement philosophy
A social business can be classified in three different functions within an organization – people, process and technology.
1. Look at your people first
The first and perhaps the most important function is wrapped around the human capital of the organization, its people and culture.
It addresses the need to drive organizational change from the top down in an effort to be open and transparent, break down silos and get internal teams to collaborate. It involves the importance of achieving executive support; either by the CEO or someone close to him that will champion social media adoption from the top down.
2. Build a framework
The second function involves the creation of process. This simply means that organizations need to put processes and frameworks in place to operationalize social media internally. Employee training and empowerment, social media guidelines, moderation policies and global expansion must be wrapped in various governance models that not only protect the organization but also empower their employees.
This function requires air tight collaboration with legal teams, customer support, IT, marketing and communications, and various business units in the U.S. and abroad.
3. Employ technology solutions
The third function deals with technology. Organizations have to invest in platforms that facilitate internal collaboration, community engagement, social listening, measurement and social relationship management. Social CRM also plays a very significant role within this function.
One of the challenges within this function is that there are several technology vendors in the market place today so companies need to think strategically before making any financial investments. Ensuring that whatever technology vendor is chosen can scale and integrate with existing applications that already exist in the enterprise is imperative.
Putting it all together
Once a company has successfully operationalized their people, process and technology capabilities, they will then show characteristics of a social brand. That is, they will more effectively engage with external audiences in the channels where they have a presence.
I am a firm believer that a company cannot have effective conversations with their customers unless they can have effective conversations internally first.