Are You Building a Social Brand or a Social Business? by briansolis


While businesses are building an infrastructure to support social media, governance, policies, and strategies are only as strong as the experiences they’re designed to create, the problems they’re intended to solve, and the ability to adapt to and lead consumer experiences because you can see what others don’t.

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									Are You Building a Social Brand or a Social
By Brian Solis, industry-leading blogger at and principal of research firm
Altimeter Group, Author of the highly acclaimed books on social business The End of Business
as Usual and Engage!

Part 8 in a series introducing my new book, The End of Business as Usual…this series serves as the
book’s prequel.

Social media says so much and so very little at the same time. First, social media implies that media
is just that, social. But when you study many of the best practices or test the advice dispensed
through popular “top 10″ posts, you find that at the heart of notable social media successes is simply
brilliant creativity and desirable incentives, not necessary authentic or genuine value or
engagement. With every Tweet or Like to win campaign, hilarious viral video, and user-generated
promotional series, businesses make social media more of an oxymoron than a movement to
transform two-way conversations into improved customer relationships.

According to an annual IBM study, getting closer to customers is the overwhelming top priority for
CEOs. And, social media is lauded as the great facilitator for engagement and renewed business
relevance. What we tend to forget however, is that social networks are merely platforms for people
to connect with friends, family and peers. Businesses are not the primary beneficiary of connections,
but they can certainly benefit once they realize that a Like or follow does not equate to an opt-in for
marketing communiqué.

If CEOs are placing increasing importance on customer relationships, why is it that we are less
aligned with the “R” in social CRM and closer in alignment to the “M,” where M stands for marketing
and not management. That’s because of where social media lives within the organization today.

In IBM’s recent “From Social Media to Social CRM” report, it was revealed that social media is
already siloed within marketing, marketing communication, or public relations, accounting for 52%,
45%, and 42% ownership respectively. When we think about the primary function of each of those

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functions, it’s clear to see why the premise of many of today’s top social media best practices are
marketing driven rather than market driven.

The difference between a social brand and a social business is internal connectedness,
preparedness, and collaborative approach to customer and employee engagement.

A Social Media and Social CRM Strategy are Different

As good friend Paul Greenberg noted in his book CRM at the Speed of Light, “The underlying
principle for Social CRM’s success is very different from its predecessor….traditional CRM is based
on an internal operational approach to manage customer relationships effectively. But Social CRM is
based on the ability of a company to meet the personal agendas of [its] customers while, at the
same time, meeting the objectives of [its] own business plan. It is aimed at customer engagement
rather than customer management.”

At stake here is relevance among the growing base of a more connected consumer landscape.
Engaging consumers from a marketing-driven approach may work for the short term, but
engagement requires a holistic approach. Consumers see one brand, one company, one experience
and not a series of disconnected silos experimenting in social media without a common vision,
mission, or process. While businesses are building an infrastructure to support social media,
governance, policies, and strategies are only as strong as the experiences they’re designed to
create, the problems they’re intended to solve, and the ability to adapt to and lead consumer
experiences because you can see what others don’t.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis
IBM studied how businesses view their foundation for social media and found that many times, the
prevailing corporate culture impeded innovation and collaboration, not just with consumers, but also
within. And for any change agent, that will come as no surprise. Whether they know it or not, change
agents are becoming hybrid cultural anthropologists and politicians learning how to adapt the culture
while rallying internal champions to bring about real change.

Here you can see the number of businesses that have defined KPIs, flexible business models,
established policies, adaptive approaches to incorporating social media into business strategies, and
defined governance. The blue shades on the left equates to those that strongly agree while toward
the right, companies start to show that they’re not where they would like to be. According to the IBM
report, only 38% are confident in the support of their company in innovation and creativity. Just 30%
can comfortably say that they have strong executive sponsorship for social media. And, a measly
27% say they share insights across functions.

Once you see these numbers, it’s clear that businesses are on the right path, but we’re really just at
the beginning. More importantly, one could argue that the direction of the path is questionable. Even
though the businesses on the far left are established and confident, they might be operating without
a holistic strategy that spans across lines of business, products, functions or across the globe.

And what of a centralized or holistic approach, defined by a common goal and reinforced through not
only governance, but compliance?The effects of connected consumerism require nothing less than
internal transformation and in many ways, a new outlook.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis
The challenges that businesses face are still relatively immature as IBM discovered. ROI, employee
use of social media, and negative brand exposure lead the top three challenges companies face
today. In the number four and seven spots however, we see the true threat to progress, lack of
strategy and lack of support. We can not march into new territory without a unified vision. We can
not lead consumer experiences if those experiences are either undefined or unsupported by the
leadership organization we’re to stand behind.

When’s the last time you looked at your mission and vision statement? Can you Tweet it? Does it
speak to you? The truth is that in addition to processes, businesses must rethink who or what it is to
a different breed of consumer. This consumer is not just social, they’re connected across networks,
devices, and they influence and are influenced differently than traditional consumers.

Mo Data, Mo Problems

What we need to do, where we need to be, how, why and to what extent is available to us today. We
won’t discover these answers in the form of brand or competitive monitoring using social tools. We
must capture data, interpret it, and also act upon it, now and over time, to learn and pursue
relevance without forgetting our core markets and competencies.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis
Companies are clearly capturing data as IBM found. But as you can see, how data is analyzed,
interpreted, and in turn shared across the organization is scattered. And, what happens to
information (or insights) once its distributed is unclear in this study, but we can assume that it isn’t
embraced and acted upon across the board.

Businesses are experimenting. Businesses are learning and adapting. But this can’t just be about
social media. This must be about using disruptive technology to improve customer experiences and
relationships. We can’t find comfort until we’re clearly operating outside of our comfort zones. And
even then, we can’t rest until we are meeting the needs of connected consumers, where they are,
how they connect, and reinforce the values, products, and services that are important to them.

Times are a changing and as a result, the foundation of business must also change. It’s a new era of
business and consumerism and you play a role in defining it.

Order The End of Business as Usual today…

Part 1 – Digital Darwinism, Who’s Next
Part 2 – Social Media’s Impending Flood of Customer Unlikes and Unfollows
Part 3 – Social Media Customer Service is a Failure!
Part 4 – I think we need some time apart, it’s not me, it’s you
Part 5 – We are the 5th P: People
Part 6 – The State of Social Media 2011: Social is the new normal
Part 7 – I like you, but not in that way

Image Source: Shutterstock

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis
Brian Solis is principal at Altimeter Group, a research-based advisory firm. Solis is
globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders and published
authors in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Solis has studied and
influenced the effects of emerging media on business, marketing, publishing, and
culture. His current book, The End of Business as Usual helps companies rethink
business strategies to lead, not react to, the new consumer revolution. His previous
book Engage, is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to build and
measure success in the social web.

Connect with Brian Solis on Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook | Google+ | Youtube
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