I actually believe there are qualities or behaviors that are distinctly different from business-as-usual and that can help businesses extract value from social media behaviors and technology. To me, they are what define a social business (and, yes, I do mean a business aligned with social media-based behaviors not necessarily a more socially responsible company. This latter definition is important just not my particular focus for now.)
We are a social business. That means we practice what we preach to our clients. There are 5 key behaviors of a social business that we focus on. I would love to hear what others think:
Foster horizontal collaboration – hierarchies and departments matter less. The price of organizing around shared interests and needs has gone way down. Just look at the Middle East and the forces at work in the Arab Spring. That demonstration of power is unmistakable and it will change us. The departments inside many corporations were defined for efficiency back when manufacturing was at the heart of commerce. They become tribal and siloed. We need to formally push against these boundaries towards new collaborative relationships within our business.
Story: As we formed Social@Ogilvy, we did it as a pirate ship sailing horizontally across P&L and tribal boundaries. We initially just asked all of the social media handraisers to come to the clubhouse one afternoon. We are the poster children for collaboration.
Make clear commitments to innovation – We can’t innovate and optimize ROI at the same time. If we are not careful, we will let our natural impulses to define things like ROI dampen our spirit for innovation. Let’s face facts, we are designing while driving the car. We must make sure we have clear commitments to innovate. We have a global R&D budget. It sits inside the staff all around the world who are eager to pool their expertise and time around a small set of important priorities to create the next planning model, the next community management training program, the next marketing app store.
Story: 4 years ago or so, I attended a global CRM summit in Barcelona for a major CPG. I was there to share our view on social media as a marcom discipline. We had some great successes, activating Olympic athletes during the Beijing games and helping the federal government prep the country for pandemic flu. At the end of our presentation, a CRM marketer raised his hand and announced, “If what you do doesn’t deliver a better ROI than my email program, I am not doing it.” No one is more focused on effectiveness than we are but don’t let the blind pursuit of ROI stunt our efforts to innovate and invent.
Be adaptive and agile – become an athlete for change. Train on coping and harnessing never-ending change. Be adaptive to customers and circumstances. Move thoughtfully fast. You can always move again. We need to be pioneers in new ways to work and new team models that help us be quick.
Story: Brands are looking to Silicon Valley to understand how to be much more agile. The pilgrimages to Facebook HQ by major brands are as much to expose their senior leaders to the posters on the wall that essentially encourage employees to ‘fail faster’ and 'move fast and break things' as an expression of their iterative ‘risk-positive’ culture as anything.
Build Integrated customer relationships – the customer or buyer journey is more complex and starts earlier. It doesn’t follow the funnel but curves around, circling back on itself in a complex, context-specific path. People refer back out to their social graph at all points along the journey. It just doesn’t make sense to have a social media strategy that is separate from your overall marketing or CRM strategy. That goes for all of the disciplines that engage the same ecosystem of customers and stakeholders. They shouldn’t have separate, unconnected strategies.
Story: When I started our social business 7 years ago, I saw what we were doing as offering the alternative way to engage customers – we were the antidote to marketing. That doesn’t make sense. We need to be fully integrated in all aspects of the solutions Ogilvy & Mather Group delivers to clients. Along the way, we will invent some completely new solutions to deliver that go beyond how we build profitable relationships today.
Master an endless flow of data- we have so much data at our fingertips. Analyzing it to actionable insights is really no easier now than it ever was. Each part of a company has data needs or opportunities. Making sense of social data – and converting it into valuable and actionable information – remains a top priority for marketing and communication leaders and the C-suite. We have our own need for data. Valuable research from all types of sources transforms ‘hunches’ into great strategy. The same listening and analytics we sell to clients tell us if Social@Ogilvy is reaching key business goals. Sales and revenue data tell us if all our efforts are moving the business forward.
These behaviors may not each be new or unique but together, they do define a way of doing business and prioritizing effort that is fresh. What are you doing to seize opportunity and work differently?
more views on social business behavior:
IBM Social Business Behavior - "A social business optimizes the workforce–enable the right talent and content to come together at the right time"
Forbes: 4 Blinks on What is A Social Business? - "It’s not about social media, it is about identifying business processes that you can render faster, cheaper, better"
Social Business News: Is Social Business Just Knowledge Management 2.0? - "Social Business is about encouraging people to share what they know, to feel good about doing so, establish relationships with others in the organization which span the organization tree and genuinely do something extraordinary."