Social Business Takes a Human Touch, No Really

Served as inspiration for The End of Business as Usual

The socialization of media is the undercurrent for the Industrial Revolution of our time. Yet, here we are today, forcing social media into the aging paradigms that the social revolution set out to upset in the first place.

Businesses still weigh the ROI of participation. Teams debate over who owns the company’s social presences. The parochial in middle and upper management see it as either a playground or an extension of existing broadcast channels. Champions believe it is a time to engage and improve experiences. Visionaries recognize its ability to socialize the entire business. Yet, almost every example we see today of successful social media endeavors is in reality, siloed and disconnected from the rest of the organization.

Marketing runs a creative contest on Facebook, but the rest of the business is unaware of the campaign.

Customer service reacts to customer problems, yet product development is unaware of the recurring problems and themes.

Representatives are unwittingly diluting the brand they represent with unguided tweets, updates, posts, comments, and videos.

HR monitors the mistakes made by employees, but no one guides them through training, guidelines, or branding.

Customers ask questions about products and services and while these updates show up on the monitoring reports of community managers, they do not receive a response from the sales team.

The list goes on and on with little resolution as we are focused on real-time vs. real world. We need not only champions, but we now need leaders to help us cut through the red tape and unite the organization behind a flag of relevance and evolution.

Everything starts with recognizing that we must cater to an audience where its parts are in fact, greater than its sum. We must partition our social strategy to engage the diversity of the social consumer and address the unique requirements and attention of each.

This is about humanizing not only the brand, but also the methodologies that govern customer relations and adapting the systems that support it.

Socializing CRM

sCRM is the hot ticket in enterprise 2.0 at the moment, yet its champions are mired in technology as are the champions for social media in general. In many ways we’re blinded by the networks and our need to listen, respond, and update. But, we miss the intimacy necessary to learn, adapt, and earn relevance. And now, we’re consumed with wiring Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Yelp into our existing CRM infrastructure to help us automate enlightenment and engagement. While we close gaps caused by the distribution and scale of social web and the people who define it, we fail to see the human touchpoints to connect with the right people in the right places at the right time. That is, after all, where scalability resides; the ability to engage influential consumers in a one-to-one-to-many practice to amplify intention, purpose, and value.

1+1 = Many

Essentially, we’re practically fooled into a belief that we should not over think social, but not doing so, we trivialize the opportunity, ultimately investing in a program that at the end of the day, falls short of meeting the needs of the social consumer.

What’s the value of a Like?

What is a Twitter Follower worth?

What is the significance of a Tweet, check-in, or comment?

How do we reduce the costs of support through social?

To answer these questions, we must have a vision of the experience and actions we wish to introduce into these rich and active social ecosystems. Yes, this is a “click to action” and in order for businesses to socialize CRM, they must socialize the entire business. Not all of the 3F’s (friends, fans, followers) are created equally. Individually, rarely collectively, they are looking for substance, direction, recognition and even empowerment. In order to activate the social web and unlock meaningful conversations, we must look beyond customers. We must officially recognize all those who influence their actions and introduce a conversational workflow that traverses the business chasms to learn and lead – in public.

Social Science is the Center of Social Business

Customer Relationship Management > Social CRM > SRM >Relationships > Relevance

One of the celebrated companies renown for its innovation in social customer service is actually a lesson in how social “anything” becomes great PR. When you look behind the scenes, you actually see more duct tape and rubber bands than fluidity and polish. Business units are still siloed and even the chief executives have gone on record saying that the acts of engagement do more for the company’s PR than it does for the improvement of products and services. Just look at your favorite social media source and you’ll see an endless array of examples of how brands are succeeding in social media. Again, most of them are basking in the brilliance of individual victories, some are actually breaking through the internal barriers that prevent collaboration, and others are simply stunts designed to spike conversations, sales, and PR. Nothing wrong with it…especially if it work as intended.

You and I are here together, right now, to do something greater. It’s up to us to lead the way for the socialization of business, understanding that it’s an uphill journey for the foreseeable future. But in the end, our experience and triumphs are unparalleled.

Social media are the goldmines of anthropology, sociology and ethnography.  To excel here, we must embrace social science to create and earn relevance. Some businesses already get this. For example, Intel employs anthropologists such as Genevieve Bell to understand how certain cultures adopt technology and also how products should be designed with humans represented in every step of the process. I challenge businesses seeking to socialize their business to hire social scientists to not only understand culture and its role in consumerism, but also to humanize the processes and systems erecting to facilitate engagement and social CRM. It takes a human touch to embrace and inspire the social consumer, build communities, and activate advocacy. If we can hear, see, and feel the customer and all those who influence them, then why would we think social is where we can excel. Surely, it’s not because we show up. It’s only because we earn and deserve our place within each network.

We must humanize our brand, our products, and our processes to improve and influence experiences. Doing so will help us find our voice, our mission, and our purpose…our cadence. Give people a reason to connect with us, trust us, and represent us.

Now, once more…this time with feeling.

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Please consider reading, Engage!: It will help you find answers to your questions…

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ABOUT ME

Brian Solis is a digital analyst, anthropologist, and also a futurist. In his work at Altimeter Group, Solis studies the effects of disruptive technology on business and society. He is an avid keynote speaker and award-winning author who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation.

His most recent book, What's the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences (WTF), explores the landscape of connected consumerism and how business and customer relationships unfold in four distinct moments of truth. His previous book, The End of Business as Usual, explores the emergence of Generation-C, a new generation of customers and employees and how businesses must adapt to reach them. In 2009, Solis released Engage, which is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to market, sell and service in the social web.

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