Social Media and the Need for New Business Models

Who owns social media? Is it marketing, customer service, public relations?

Looking at a recent study conducted by the Pivot Conference, the top four departments where social media is currently run are as follows:

1. Marketing
2. Public Relations
3. Sales
4. Customer Service

Perhaps, it’s the wrong question to ask however. It’s not unlike asking who owns email. But, here’s another question and as we think about it, let’s broaden our perspective as the answer may not appear immediately.

Who owns the customer relationship?

The short answer is everyone.

If that is the case, then examining how social media is run today is not at all how businesses should think about it tomorrow. A not so long answer to the original question is “any person or department affected by outside activity where public interaction impacts decisions.”

Businesses tend to have a single or narrow view of the customer and as we’re learning, they’re connecting with one another and sharing experiences that transform their roles from prospect to advocate to adversary to influencer and everything in between.

Social media is not about conversations on Twitter and Facebook nor check-ins on Foursquare or Places, or flipped videos on YouTube. It’s about using this opportunity to build bridges to a new genre of customers and the people who influence their decisions. Our mission now is to pave paths to future relevance. The reality is that we are as much competing for the future as we are for the moment. And as a result, we are perpetually competing for relevance.

We can blame it on process, hierarchy, ignorance, lack of budget and anything and everything standing in our way. Or, we can own the acts of socializing the company using social media as a banner for customer centricity across the organization. Maybe we could all follow the advice from my dear friend Hugh MacLeod (@GapingVoid) and create our own #Evilplan for change. Then grab a pair of self-sharpening industrial scissors and run through the hallways to begin the long and arduous process of cutting red tape to free people to collaborate internally and externally.

Someone has to do it.

Without you, even though we’re operating with the best of intentions in social media, we are still operating from silos. The customer however, does not see silos, they sees the company as one. It’s time for an integrated approach to create an adaptive business, a collaborative business, an aspirational business….a business of one.

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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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