The hype surrounding Social Media is dying down while the new shiny object everybody talks about is Social Business.
Just google the term and you get a million different definitions, descriptions and explanations. Add a layer of technology and you create massive confusion.
This is an attempt to make it very basic for anybody to understand, without acronyms or convoluted explanations.
1. Since brands were created, there were always two conversations: internal conversations (”I”) and external conversations (”E”). The internal conversation represents any form of communication that occurs within the company and the majority of the stakeholders (suppliers, dealers, vendors, etc.). The external conversation represents any conversation between customers, prospects and people that are tangentially interested in your brand.
2. What separates the external and internal conversation used to be a massive wall (”W”). Emerging and social technologies have poked holes in this wall. Some of the corporate walls have come down almost completely, others are still sturdy, constantly in repair. The state of the wall depends on cultural, technical and organizational factors.
3. In a perfect world, you want “I” and “E” to be as much in sync as possible. Nike is an example: The employees think their brand is cool, delivers awesome products, and so do their customers.
4. When “I” and “E” are not in sync, that’s when a brand is in deep trouble. When “I” says Product A is the best thing in the world, while “E” complains about the same product, you have a problem at hand. It’s hard to sell a bad product with good advertising. The same is true when the internal conversation (traditional US airlines are a good example) is full of negativity, the advertising is filled with unicorns and the plane occupied by extremely unhappy customers.
5. How can you sync up all these conversations? That’s where Social Business comes in.
6. Social Business pokes massive holes in the wall (”W”), with the ultimate goal to eliminate the wall altogether or provide as many openings as possible. When two unsynched conversations happen at the same, they are likely to get more out of sync over time. To adjust and sync both conversations, you have to make it easy for “I” to engage with “E”, and vice versa.
7. Ultimately, Social Business is about subverting and re-aligning hierarchies. We heard so many times that the customers are in control. To have a fruitful conversation, customers and companies have to be in control. Companies want to avoid a Twitterstorm or other social/main media/PR disasters and customers want to be able to have some control over the relationship. These control mechanisms are different for every company and service model.
8. Getting started in Social Business is not about technologies or social platforms. It’s about aligning conversations to help customers to get what they want and businesses to prosper in a social ecosystem.
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