How do we measure our success in business development? It might be the knowledge that we are the go-to firm for our area of expertise. It might be publication in a national press. It might be invitations to speak to key client audiences. It might even be an increase in new enquiries from outside our existing client base.
How do we measure our success in social media? It might be the share our organisation has of the conversations about topics for which we want to be considered thought leaders. It might be downloads of our whitepapers on key topics. It might be invitations to speak to key client audiences. It might even be an increase in new enquiries from outside our existing physical network. All these things are achievable with social tools. But if we want to get the most from them, we need to be in a social business.
A social business:
- Listens – because no-one likes a bore
- Has a Customer Focus – because they pay your bills
- Is Ready for Dialogue – you want people to reply
- Is in the Real World – not some other non-existent world
- Doesn’t go it Alone – because we are stronger collaborating
- Forms a Strategy – to focus on its objectives
A Social Business Listens
Social is about people having conversations online, and we all know how boring one sided conversations are. If you are to be successful using social tools you must first listen, to your clients, your consultant colleagues, to your employees, to your market, to the thought leaders in your industry. What is happening?
Listening. This can be done with simple tools like google alerts, RSS feeds and free tools like Social Mention, or more broad ranging platforms like Radian6. Search for mentions of your brand, but also how your brand is mentioned, and your competitors. What is your share of the conversation?
I recommend that you invest in Social Listening before anything else. It will tell you whether there is a conversation going on, of which you should be a part.
A Social Business has a Customer Focus
Social media helps us understand the customer better, helps them understand us, and helps uskeep in touch.
We can find out where our customers are and what they are doing, what they are talking about. We can use traditional word of mouth or we can search for them online by name. When we find out where they are, we need to go there. What platforms are they using? What places do they go to network? Be it the golf course or a Linkedin group, it doesn’t matter, we must be where they are, listening and engaging.
A social business isn’t just about selling. A social business seeks to enable learning in our clients. By creating and encouraging dialogue we can support their development, make them better clients for us, help them do what they want more effectively. We can learn from them and innovate with them.
A Social Business is Ready for Dialogue
Social tools are interactive, and we want people to reply. Get the business ready for a two-way conversation before you start creating content.
What happens when there is a crisis now? Are we ready? Don’t want to wait for a crisis to occur online where it can be more damaging.
What sort of business structure do you have? A very hierarchical structure can mean top-down control, and it can be difficult to implement social tools because there is a need to control all communications. Passing tweets through the legal team doesn’t work. Better to set ground rules and delegate. Groups can then evolve the right techniques for the right communication on a lower level within these ground rules. This approach also leads to greater authenticity and personality to communications. A human face to our business.
Set up social media procedures and policies, and empower employees to act responsibly within their own sphere. Don’t be afraid to give staff responsibility to be sensible.
Take an holistic approach to communications, look for tools that help us assign tasks and set priorities. Prepare for dialogue in all its forms.
A Social Business Lives in the Real World
Don’t make the distinction between the conversations you hear going online and those you hear in meetings with people elsewhere, ‘In Real Life’. They are all conversations. The ones online have different characteristics; they can be more powerful, or more dangerous. Remember always that these are people making decisions.
Make continual connections between your ‘Real Life’ activity and ‘Social Media’ activity. Talk about what we’re doing. Share our blogposts via email to people who ask questions. Meet the key decision makers online and do things with them in real life. Introduce the real to the virtual and vice versa.
The virtual/real world concept is outdated – don’t discriminate.
A Social Business Doesn’t go it Alone
Social doesn’t mean isolated, quite the opposite. It is about extending our network, not replacing it.
Create an advocacy programme – a way in which our genuine advocates can come together to advocate us online. Find credible people who already know and love our work. People who work with us will be our best advocates. Give them the tools to be your advocates online and reward them with early access or other intangibles, but don’t pay them and don’t manipulate their message. Look for genuine advocacy freely given.
Enable Social Engagement in these collaborators. Help them learn how to use social tools with us as we learn. Set up a private Linkedin group for clients or consultants. Organise joint workshops on Web 2.0. Host or participate in our advocates’ social campaigns, in their consultations. Do things together.
A Social Business has a Strategy
To make this happen we must plan ahead. Where do you want to go? What are your wideranging goals and your key objectives? How will you measure success?
Plan out your next year as a social business. What do we need to change?
Su, another great article to further the use of social media in the built environment.
From recent experience in assisting a range of organisations take their first steps to become a social business, I would add the need for clear guidelines and policy on use of social media, that gives confidence to both staff and employers alike.
Thanks for the addition Martin.
Guidelines, if not developed firstly by the legal department (!) can really help get things moving.
Often when you start looking online you find that your employees are already using these tools; that makes them experts, a useful resource.
Open minded guidelines built around the practice philosophy are essential.
Anne Patrick says
The true social business always listens and that’s definitely true. Because when they listen, they will know their audience’s needs and wants. As well as own marketplace. Businesses should see this post to gain additional information for their social media marketing. Thanks for sharing, this is also helpful to me.
Thanks for the contribution Anne, and for dropping by 🙂