Going Social

Going Social

By Jed Hallam

Jed Hallam is social director of the brand-marketing consultancy VCCP Share. From The Social Media Manifesto (Palgrave Macmillan). ©2013

Building a social business is not about having a Twitter or Facebook strategy—it is about stitching back together the constituent parts of your business that have become silo’d and disparate over the course of its history to create a fluid entity that allows data and insights to flow freely across every department of your business. Social business is about relinquishing corporate control, and building an open culture, where anyone within your organization can make suggestions and improve the performance of your business. It is about actually listening to and understanding your market, not from behind a camera listening to twelve people discuss what they do and don’t like about your products or services, but about being present at 4 a.m. when a mother is asking a forum of her peers what to do because her washing machine has broken and it is leaking water throughout her home.

Social business is about getting so close to your market that they feel like a part of your business, because they are. Your market is your business. Without them, all you have is a building full of people in starchy suits showing presentations filled with graphs pointing optimistically upward and making predictions about “what our core demographic” wants. These presentations are unnecessary, because your “core demographic” is telling you what they want, what they need, what they hate, and why they hate it. It is just that your organization is not listening to them.

Becoming a social business is about stepping back out from behind your desk and engaging with your employees, trusting them, encouraging them, and making them feel like they are part of something much bigger than a 9-to-5.

The world has fundamentally changed over the last twenty years—we are in a time of economic uncertainty when people cannot afford to take risks on products or services that might not work, but fortunately for consumers, technology came to the rescue, giving them access to their peers like they had never known before. Those peers are leaving reviews of your business on TripAdvisor and pointing out that “while the description said it was in the middle of the city, it was actually a thirty-minute walk.” They are tweeting about your rude customer-service team. They are “Liking” your Facebook page to get the discount voucher and then immediately “Unliking” your page because they do not want their two thousand friends to think that they were endorsing your brand. The world has changed, and it is time for your business to change too.

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