Social media and marketing have become synonymous over the years. At the same time, social media is placing the customer back in customer service. Each movement represents important and overdue (r)evolutions within business, but this is just the beginning. With every step toward progress we make in social media, we uncover what’s necessary to make real headway in the progress of progress.
The future of business is social and as such, every aspect of business affected by outside activity will require a social extension. Businesses must shift from reacting to the outside in, bottom up groundswell to also leading a top down, inside out program to earn relevance, community, and authority. In order to do so, the social business will take a human touch…and internal transformation.
At the moment, it is the champion who ignites change from within. They understand how social affects business dynamics and builds support among key players to engage. Typically marketing and/or customer service run pilot programs to prove the merit of new media. From there, trials graduate to ongoing initiatives dedicated to social marketing, service or both. It starts with listening and monitoring and evolves to reactive engagement. Through strategy and creative processes, social programs eventually mature into proactive participation over time.
Everything starts with defining the voice and the persona of the brand as well as its mission and purpose for engagement. While intention counts, it is our actions and words that define outcomes. In the last mile of engagement, consumers must see beyond the personal brand tied to the representative to see the brand the individual represents. The elements of traditional branding still apply, they’re just humanized now.
When we shift from monitoring to hearing what people are saying and the context of their conversations, we discover that reactive and proactive engagement spans across the entire business. And even in the cases where participation isn’t required, there is still much opportunity to adapt products and processes based on insights gleaned from concentrations of meaningful dialogue.
Many of the social media cases that I review today and even those that I have worked on in the past, reach one audience…an audience of existing and potential customers. So, when we run a creative campaign or a personalized social customer program, we quickly realize that our audience is actually an audience with audiences who also have audiences. And, within each, are subsets of people with distinctive needs and also those who represent real world opportunities.
At any one moment, they are…
We are on the right path. We just have much to learn. In 2011 and for the next several years, social businesses will transform the organization from within. For those ready to lead tomorrow’s businesses today, we are indeed talking about organizational transformation and change management. Starting with the philosophy, culture, and reverberating throughout systems, processes, workflow, business units and the people at every step of the way, the business of business will evolve…it already is.