This is not a book about social media marketing. Within these pages, you’ll find no hidden formula that will teach a business how to increase friends, fans, and followers. It’s not a book about viral marketing, and it doesn’t condone using social media to broadcast one-way messages to the masses. This book is different.
Many organizations today spend a lot of time, resources, and money trying to understand the social landscape and engaging externally with their customers and prospects. They’re on a quest to become a social brand. They’re investing in Facebook applications, branded communities, and blogs; many also are using online monitoring solutions to listen and see what people are saying about the brand. From this perspective, many companies today are doing a decent job.
Friends, fans, and followers are important, yes. And brands increase their social equity by engaging in two-way dialogue with their constituency, yes. And transparency is key to these external engagements, yes. But while many organizations are trying desperately to humanize their brand, they are failing to understand that they need to humanize their business first.
Therein lies the business challenge. As social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter gained popularity and social customers became more influential, companies of all sizes and from all industries began to join the conversation. Customers learned to expect companies to be part of the social web. And social influencers started criticizing brands for every action—or inaction—they took online.
Companies listened. Organizations are now aggressively hiring community managers and social strategists, allocating budgets to social media, hiring agencies, and creating engagement strategies. They are doing everything a “good” social brand should be doing.
But this book is not about social brands. It’s about an organization’s natural (sometimes forced) evolution into a social business. A social business deals with the internal transformation of an organization and addresses key factors such as organizational models, culture, internal communications, collaboration, governance, training, employee activation, global and technology expansion, team dynamics, and measurement philosophy.
To do this effectively, companies have to get smarter; acquire new technologies, intelligence, and talent; and become more open and transparent. They have to establish business processes, governance models and rules of engaging on the social web that protect the organization yet empower their employees. They have to change the way they do business—and that starts with the people of the organization.
An organization that uses social media to engage externally with customers is a social brand but not necessarily a social business. There’s a huge difference between the two.
From the outside looking in, most people wouldn’t recognize or understand the challenges that social media has created in an enterprise. The anarchy, conflict, confusion, lack of communication and collaboration, and organizational silos that exist behind the firewall are not visible. These challenges make the process of becoming an effective social brand much more difficult and less effective. For some organizations, this quest to become a social brand and a social business is done simultaneously.
The premise of this book is that organizations cannot and will not have effective external conversations with consumers unless they can have effective internal conversations first. This involves much more than internal conversations, conference calls, and a collaboration forum. For this evolution to take place, organizations need to adopt social behaviors in every aspect of their business.