Studying the impact of innovation on business and society

With Social Media Comes Great Opportunity

I believe that Social Media represents in two words and five syllables, nothing short of a revolution within any business or any industry for that matter. And, for individuals, it represents the democratization of media and equalization of influence. It presents an equal opportunity platform to broadcast and publish at will, earning audiences and prominence that directly align with the level of individual participation and investment in engagement. The socialization of media affects and empowers more than personal brands however.

Essentially all brands are entitled to become media, earn audiences and build online communities, and that is powerful as well as emancipating.

The Socialization of Business

Within every organization, Social Media is championed from within, sparked by external influences that awaken a new sense of awareness and inspire a genuine ambition to bring about change.

At some point however, social media permeates the fabric of every business until it reaches the very essence that defines the spirit, persona, and intention of the brand. It’s natural of course, for new media’s promise and opportunity to escalate within the organization once its potential is unlocked and revealed.

As such, the inevitable question emerges, “who owns social media.”

What if we asked the question another way….Who owns email?

The answer is that email, even though it is among the most social of all channels we use today, is not owned by any one department. Email is simply a tool to communicate.

Once we let go of the rope in this veritable tug of war of who owns social media and realize that no one necessarily owns this diverse medium, we can then concentrate our efforts on shaping the perception of our brand and contribute to its sense of value and purpose within the influential communities that define our markets.

Social Media, at the very least, galvanizes the socialization of businesses, down to departmental and individual roles. Service, marketing, PR, HR, sales, finance, product, will maintain a social presence as dictated and demanded by their communities, thus evoking the movement from social CRM (sCRM) to SRM.

eMarketer recently shared a study published by Mzinga and Babson Executive Research that examined how each business area embraced social media…

As expected, marketing earned the top spot with 57% using social media as part of the overall program. Internal collaboration and learning followed with 39% and as the implications and unseen potential for new media unfolds, digital literacy becomes paramount for the future success of any business. Customer service ranked third with 29% and sales, human resources and strategy trailed at 25%, 21%, and 16% respectively.

Everything Begins with Listening and Research

While these numbers differ from business to business, one of the most interesting revelations for those brand managers and champions who proactively listen and study material activity online prior to engagement is that conversations tend to map perfectly to the infrastructure of any organization. Basically, the location, volume, topic, influential voices as well as the reach of conversations are not only discoverable, they align with the corresponding divisions of most organizations…

Marketing
Service
Sales
Product Development/Engineering
HR
et al.

As eMarketer observed…

More and more opportunities will present themselves for companies to use social channels to increase their business. The landscape will change rapidly, so tactics that might have seemed irrelevant in 2009 might be on the table in 2010 or 2011.

The point is this, social media is owned by its participants and steered by the voices who invest its direction. In order to compete for attention, mind share, and ultimately the future, businesses must now engage in the very online societies in which our audiences seek, share, and discover guidance and information.We must step outside of our domain and come to terms with the reality that relevance and trust, moving forward, is now earned and not simply achieved.

Social Media is shared and it’s a privilege.

When we pay attention to relevant conversations and in turn, organize them by the roles within our organization that are specifically impacted or affected, we remove the guesswork for how to build a social strategy and ascertain exactly how we can activate the social Web.

With the permeation of Social Media, the company matures, adapting and improving the culture, behavior, and overall mission of the business. Without evolution, the stature of what our brand was, slowly erodes as other socially-savvy competitors create awareness and connections.

Social Media forces us to find comfort outside of our comfort zones by listening, learning, and collaborating with peers, prospects and influencers engage today. As such, with social media comes great opportunity for those ready to embrace change from the inside out.

Connect with Brian Solis on Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Google Buzz, Facebook

Please consider reading my brand new book, Engage!


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Image Credit: Shutterstock, edited

76 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “With Social Media Comes Great Opportunity”

  1. Great post! Your articles always leave me with a lot to think about. I'm curious about the statement you made that conversations map out infrastructure of organizations. . .

    • briansolis says:

      Hi Juliana, thank you. It's based on the preface that the entire organization needs to socialize as there are conversational opportunities beyond the role of community manager. When we listen, we see engagement for service, product, finance, HR, marketing, PR, etc.

  2. Brian, the 39% for internal collaboration and learning really surprised me. That means that cross-functional activities already play a big role, whereas we might have thought that social media was slower to move out of marketing/PR if we go by the number of articles suggesting that it needs to.

    This is a brilliant line which I will use, with thanks: “The point is this, social media is owned by its participants and steered by the voices who invest its direction”.

    You also said “At some point however, social media permeates the fabric of every business until it reaches the very essence that defines the spirit, persona, and intention of the brand” and I agree.

    With respect to Microsoft, it was recently found to be the #1 social media savvy company in the US, based on penetration of social media throughout the firm if I understood the criteria correctly. Most commentators, and the press release itself, said that “it was to be expected” that tech-savvy companies would top the list, even though IBM equaled last position in the top 50.

    I beg to disagree and would have thought that brand-savvy consumer marketing savvy companies might have been expected to be the “natural high achievers”. I wrote about it here, and wondered what your opinion is of Microsoft's achievement, I rate it highly: http://www.walteradamson.com/2010/05/social-med

    In fact I think it gives them a very significant edge which your post here helps explain, as to change the fabric of an organisation in this way is no trivial task. While it's competitors are seeking to do so, Microsoft is ahead and has a significant competitive advantage. Would you agree?

    Walter Adamson @g2m
    http://xeesm.com/walter

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