Social Media Becomes Social Business May 3, 2012

Written by: Larry Weintraub
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As social media matures, so too do its related expectations. We’re in the midst right now of a transition from social media to social business. Sure, we’ve all been searching for the ROI associated with our Facebook and Twitter endeavors for a few years now, but what we’re really starting to see is a fundamental shift in the way social media fits within a company.

Back in my music business days, the Internet guys (or should I say – guy) were the last ones consulted on what to do with a new artist. Today they lead the conversation. As do the respective leaders in film, television, and publishing.  Businesses outside of entertainment are quickly gaining traction in that area too as digital becomes core to the launch of any new product from all aspects including market research and product development. 

Digital and social media find themselves at the center of a business’ strategy and not the add-on. Thus the transition from social media to social business. These days, when we get called in to talk about social media with a brand, for the most part they already have a significant presence on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn, and even Pinterest. The conversations have become far less about how can we help you get to a million fans on Facebook and more about how can we turn those virtual fans into even bigger fans of the brand. And let’s cut to the chase – we want those fans to buy more and tell others to buy more.

A social business strategy is more complex than a social media strategy. It involves multiple divisions of a company and it involves buy-in from the senior level. All you have to do is look at what Walmart and American Express are doing to understand that social is quickly becoming a core part of some of the biggest companies in the world.

A social business strategy is essentially a collection of strategies that work together to ultimately drive loyalty and sales.  This includes:

  • Analytical Strategy – Analysis of action to date – a deep understanding of what is working and what hasn’t.  You’ve most likely spent at least a year trying things in the social space, what are the results?  What are the needs identified such as personnel, better reporting, data analysis, training, etc.?
  • Establish a Value Proposition – Have you identified what your customer wants in exchange for being part of your social presence? What’s in it for them?
  • Growth Strategy – You probably have a semi-arbitrary goal for the amount of fans you want following you on your various social properties. Do you have a legitimate reason for this number or does 1 million or 2 million Facebook fans just sound like a good number to report to the bosses? Have you studied the direct competition? Have you studied the quality of fan that you currently have and identified where they came from and how often they participate? We’ve all heard the quality vs. quantity argument, but have we really spent time determining if every new fan is as valuable as the ones that came before?  Have you used every asset you have at your fingertips such as email, in-store signage, better presence on your website, or integration with your advertising efforts? Before you start buying those fans with Facebook ads, have you tried to convert your actual customers?
  • Activation Strategy – What do you do with people when they become a fan?  This is also known as community management. You’ve got them there, now what do you do with them? Do you actually engage with them or do you just recite quotes from famous people and send out 25% discounts on things they don’t necessarily want?  Do you have the proper resources to manage your community? 
  • Content Strategy - One of the most important strategies in showcasing your company and your products. We’re a visual society and the smartphone revolution is making it easier to take photos and capture video at a quality previously owned by Nikon and Canon.  You need a definitive approach to not only capturing content but how you disseminate it.  Is your content compelling? Is it real? Is it sharable?  
  • Mobile Strategy - Everything we do on our desktops and laptops is headed into the palms of our hands. Every point made above should have mobile factored in as well. View this presentation to really get the point.

I could go on, but any more and you’ll start getting dizzy and ask yourself how on earth you could ever get all of that done. The point is that everything I stated above is meant to drive more business your way. It asks you to take a good look at what you are doing and whether you have the right process in place to make this work. Again, this is for your business, not for bragging rights.