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From Social Brand to Social Business Part One

|Aug 26|magazine12 min read

By Michael Brito

Many organizations today spend a lot of time, resources and financial investment trying to understand the social landscape and engaging externally their customers and prospects. They are on a quest to become a social brand.  They are investing in Facebook applications, branded communities and blogs; and many are using online monitoring solutions to listen and see what people are saying about the brand.  And, from this perspective, many companies today are doing a decent job. 

Friends, fans and followers are important, yes. And brands increase their social equity by engaging in two-way dialogue with their constituency, yes. And transparency is key to these external engagements, yes. And while many organizations are trying desperately to humanize their brand, they are failing to understand that they need to humanize their business first.

And thereby lies the business challenge for many organizations today. Years ago with the expansion of Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks; and as the influence of the social customer became apparent to everyone, companies of all sizes and in every vertical began to “join the conversation”. It was not only an expectation from customers that companies engaged with them but also from social influencers who enjoyed playing Monday morning quarterback and often criticized brands for every customer action/inaction.

And companies listened. In response to the social customer and the growing criticism from the masses, organizations today are now aggressively hiring community managers and social strategists, allocating budgets to social media, hiring social media agencies, integrating social media into other areas of paid media and doing their best at community engagement. They are doing everything a "good" social brand should be doing.

But a good social brand causes problems behind the firewall.  

From the outside looking in, most wouldn’t recognize and understand the challenges that social media has created in the enterprise. The anarchy, conflict, confusion of roles and responsibilities, lack of communication and collaboration; and organizational silos that exist behind the firewall is not visible.  These challenges make the process of becoming an effective social brand much more difficult and less effective. So for many organizations, this quest to becoming a social brand and a social business is one of a simultaneous effort.

Social business is an organization’s natural (sometimes forced) evolution to humanize its business operations It deals with the internal transformation of an organization and addresses key factors such as change management, organizational models, culture, internal communications, collaboration, governance, training, employee activation, global and technology expansion, team dynamics and the establishment of a measurement philosophy.

In order for companies to do this effectively, they will have to get smarter, acquire new technologies, intelligence, talent and become more open and transparent. The will have to actually communicate with each other, share knowledge, tear down silos and essentially change the way they work day to day. They will have to establish processes and governance models that protect the organization yet empower their employees.  They have to change the way they do business, from the way they develop new products to the way they write a press release, and that starts with the people of the organization. 

A tech veteran, Michael Brito is Senior Vice President of Social Business Planning at Edelman Digital, the interactive arm of the world's largest independently owned public relations firm. He is a much sought after speaker, advisor and community activist on issues ranging from social business, fund raising, digital marketing, community engagement, customer advocacy and integrated brand marketing communications.  

Check back on Sunday for Part Two