Experience Management Blog

Scaling Social Business Starts with Building Belief

Note: Sprinklr engaged some of the most innovative social practitioners at the world’s largest, most social brands to help you understand best practices in enterprise social media management. We also threw in some great bonus material from top thinkers. You can download the full PDF here. Today’s excerpt is from John Bell. You can follow him @jbell99.

John Bell on TwitterWhile IBM may be able to champion the use of social media across its business without hesitation, many businesses struggle with the mix of attitudes in middle management towards what is seen as anywhere from a “frothy” fad to a revolutionary change.

Trying to build belief that social media will change business may not be necessary.

After all, “social media” means so much to so many. While it certainly fueled public protests to overthrow governments during the Arab Spring, helped reconnect Japanese people thrown apart during the 2011 earthquake/tsunami and grew the Zappos ecommerce business, it also drives countless trivial conversations online that were of questionable value to even those doing the talking.

On top of it all, many people feel that ‘social media’ as a topic has garnered an outsized attention for what it truly can deliver. The recent stock price “recalibrations” for Zynga, Groupon, and even Facebook, seem to play into the doubters’ positions. We need to take the long view. People’s behaviors are fundamentally changing. No one platform – not even Facebook – is a bellwether of this shift.

We don’t need to build belief in social media to lead business towards a productive and profitable social business strategy. We simply need to build belief around some enduring fundamentals:

  • Closer listening to customers will help us understand their needs and behaviors better.
  • Earning people’s attention and advocacy (and their business) will increase the value of our customers and our business.
  • A new set of influencers may impact our business in significant ways and we had best know who they are and how to engage productively.
  • The customer journey is complex and requires all the data – including social data – and understanding of human behaviors to affect.
  • Marketing agility increasingly hits the bottom line as crises and issues rapidly accelerate across the social Web.
  • Social tools can improve how we produce value and innovation from collaboration with employees, partners and customers.
  • Driving up customer satisfaction and intervening earlier when problems arise can improve reputation and the bottom line.

 

All of these are made newly possible through social practices and technologies. Each builds on established sources of value for companies. Leaders can create alignment internally by building belief in these core fundamentals.

Three suggestions for building belief (and therefore support for social-centered initiatives):

Always frame initiatives against established business metrics

Choose KPIs that already have ‘buy-in’ in the organization. If communications benchmarks against ‘favorability’ then show how social can improve favorability. You can practice this by never using the word “engagement” in a report on program efficacy.

Show by example

The best ‘proof’ often comes from a “bright spot” example inside your organization. Where was social used best and what does that look like? External examples can help as well since they can motivate a competitive impulse.

Share an insightful knowledge of customer behaviors

People are changing how they choose products, services and candidates all across the world. By paying attention to how your customers or prospects actually behave in their ‘journey,’ you can justify almost anything.

John heads up Social@Ogilvy – Ogilvy’s global, social media marketing and communications practice and the world’s largest network of social media strategists. He has developed and executed enterprise social media strategy for Nestle, the Ford Motor Company, Caterpillar, IBM, Coca Cola, and DuPont. John is a Web 1.0 graduate. As Creative Director at Discovery Communications, he transformed a single web site into 14 Web communities and services from DiscoveryKids.com to Animalplanet.com and more. He publishes a popular social media business blog, The Digital Influence Mapping Project. He contributes to many more. His Twitter handle is: @jbell99.