The only way to succeed in social media is to be a social business

Social media has well and truly moved out of the marketing arena. Plugging in social media as a part of your marketing/ad campaign is one thing, but to really succeed in social media, you must establish yourself as a social business. This means embracing social media or social technologies across every level of the business, allowing it to infiltrate established structures and processes. At least, you have to do this if you want your customers to believe what you’re selling or in any way stay ahead of the pack.

The need for open knowledge

Social media is a fiercely competitive space. With so many public campaigns (and often public results), there is an untold amount of pressure on organisations to offer innovative social campaigns, utilise the latest technology and constantly stay ahead of the competition. And the need is so high because social media has knocked down the walls around companies. You now have an indicator of success, however arbitrary, through public figures on social platforms, whether it’s Twitter followers, video views, Facebook Likes etc.. To have less ‘Likes’ than your competitor on Facebook is now a cardinal sin. So campaigns are becoming more and more creative, expensive and experimental.

And the fact is that companies that restrict these campaigns, or this entire approach to social media, to the marketing department, are not only limiting the amount of innovation that is possible within your brand, but also the extent to which you can realistically succeed. If you come up with a great idea for a campaign but it involves collaboration with another department who are unconvinced of social media, or who simply don’t have the time to facilitate it, then you have a wasted opportunity. Companies must allow social media to operate at every level, within reason, to ensure that you are not only developing a social media campaign that paints a pretty picture with no real substance, but that is a genuine business approach with the aim of offering the best for the end user.

Efficiency

By establishing yourself as a social business you will also increase efficiency of key business processes, from brainstorms, to product development to internal comms. Your customers are living and breathing social media not only as a way to interact with brands but as a way of living their lives. So as a business, if you want to succeed in social, you have to be able to operate in the same way. By opening up and looking at social tools that can improve your business on every level, you will become more productive and importantly, more able to give your customers what they want. It will also allow your employees to develop an innate understanding of social media for business.

Combine this with openly encouraging them to use social media personally, and you will have a team full of people with unique insights into the benefits of social technologies : knowing both what they want as a consumer and what they can offer as the brand.

Losing Control

Being a social business is about doing things differently to before. It’s about being reactive, open, collaborative and accepting the fact that you will have to relinquish control. Crucially, it’s also about realising that the best things happen when you do lose control and embrace social media to the highest.

There’s no better living, breathing example of this than Ramon de Leon. Ramon started out as a delivery driver for Dominos in 1986 and has since progressed within the company to run a franchise of 6 restaurants in Chicago. And he has achieved this largely, by his own admission, through social media. He frequently speaks at conferences to teach people how social media has worked for him, but he doesn’t even need to. He is a living embodiment of being a social business, as his approach to social flows throughout his business. It is not about simply following a strategy but actually living what you’re selling to your customers.

To let social media in at this level is daunting for brands. But the fact is that this social media thing isn’t going anywhere but up. Whether you call it Facebook, big data, mobile, tablets, social commerce, it is diversifying and growing ; to the point where it’s no longer enough to ‘do’ social media. You have to be it.

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