‘We’re going through a revolution in the way people communicate. I think it’s the most significant revolution in communications since the invention of the printing press.’ David Meerman Scott – The New Rules of Marketing & PR
What is this revolution and where is it happening? The revolution is the hyper connectivity that surrounds you, your colleagues, your friends and your family – and which is infiltrating your company from the inside out. The revolution is also the humanising pressure social technologies are having on organisations.
The humanisation of the organisation is the key concept in relation to the future of its internal and external social ecosystem. It will be the decade’s key business battle ground – ‘become human and connect at every level with both employees and consumers or die’ will be the rallying cry. In fact, the ability to be human and on brand in B2C, B2B and B2E relationships will be the differentiator as consumer power and employee flux increase – and what is now termed the Social Business (or Enterprise 2.0) is one model of how to meet this brave new social world.
The Social Business is a socialised organisation, which becomes an effective social brand capable of addressing the social employee and social customer at every level.
But in order to be a social brand an organisation must be capable of translating their mission, values and goals into the interactive social medium through a consistent brand personality i.e. a human translation of the brand.
How does a business ‘be human’ in social networks? A business can be defined as human in its unique social ecosystem when it is able to consistently deliver Transparency, Authenticity, Collaboration and Trust (TACT) in all of its social relationships – from employees and suppliers to competitors and customers.
Why would an organisation want to become ‘human’ and be capable of displaying TACT in everything they do? The answer to this question is short and succinct: social media.
Social media is the truth serum that is making its way around the business networks of large organisations and slowly seeping into their operations and communications. It is changing the business landscape and revolutionising the way organisations interact with their customers, suppliers, competitors and employees. It is opening up organisations’ dark corners to the bright daylight and creating all kinds of opportunities for engagement across the whole org chart.
But how should organisations react? Will change only come through crisis management, or will they move to meet the future as it comes up behind them?
Whether organisations choose to step out of the old world and embark on a digital transformation, or wait until they are surrounded to act will depend on the vision of their CEOs. Digital transformation must be pulled through from the bottom and showcased from the top – it does not spawn well from the middle ranks. Half-baked digital transformations are soft in the middle, and lead to fakery.
Social media cannot be faked on any grand scale, and those who try will be found out and fail. The road behind is littered with examples. Engagement through social media requires human to human relationships, not human to Marcomms, or human to PR Agency. It requires getting your hands dirty on the shop floor, and the ability to tolerate uncertainty and change on a grand scale. Engagement, the golden egg of social media, can only happen through transparent, authentic and collaborative trustworthy relationships created between real humans. No old style ‘them and us’ corporate attitudes here.
This need to humanise in order to connect and understand employees and customers isn’t all about consumer coercion.
It is in fact about competitive edge through market knowledge. Integrating social media with the organisation leads to this century’s business holy grail – innovation. Companies with large and well managed internal and external social ecosystems are able to micro-listen to their customer’s wants and needs and have the internal capabilities to maximise employee knowledge and talent in order to anticipate and create what the customer will want next in the market. They are able to know up to the minute feedback on everything they do in the market – the ultimate feedback loop.
The social business is a new type of constantly evolving organisation with its ear to the ground that effectively and quickly generates internal change in response to external stimuli.
Those that embrace the brave new social world completely will develop the ability to preempt markets through full constant listening of their ecosystems, which will lead the organisation to a state of total social knowledge – a place of perfect equilibrium between the employee, the brand, the product/service, the customer’s ecosystem (society) and the customer – creating a loyal and long-lasting connection between the organisation and its life-giving ecosystem.
Through social media the 21st century organisation will be able to be present everywhere its customers are, and will have the systems, processes and people in place to react quickly and appropriately to protect their brand in the present and prepare it for the future through market-led innovation via a new human-centred business model.
The whole of every business needs to be social now. When will you begin? And where?