Social Business: Is Your Company Ready to Commit?

Last Thursday, Sharam and I had the pleasure of participating in Dell’s Social Business Think Tank, a roundtable discussion that looked at the challenges and opportunities of social media’s evolution within enterprise organizations.

#DellVenue Social Business Think TankCharlene Li, Altimeter Group’s CEO, moderated the panel, which included insightful contributions from a stellar panel of business leaders. A comprehensive list of participants can be found below and a full recording of the conversation can be found here (for those of you with 2 hours to kill).

In case you’ve got other things to do, allow me to synthesize.The discussion centered on the maturation of social business and how brands and businesses need to think about the evolving social landscape.

Social media is extending deeper into organizations and as strategies mature, there are molds to break and mindsets to shift. Social is revealing entirely new ways of doing business and that means shaking up the status quo.

Are you ready to embrace all that it means to be truly social?

Below are 3 challenges to think about and 3 (golden) opportunities to capitalize on as social business continues to blossom:

#SocBiz Challenge 1: The Buyer Rules

How, when, and why people buy has shifted dramatically. Consumers today are armed with more information than ever before. From search tools and reviews, to comparison pricing, buyers are in control of nearly the entire purchasing process leaving sales with very few tried a true tactics left in their arsenal.

#SocBiz Opportunity 1: Learn To Listen

Businesses must become trusted sources of information while creating perpetual value. Everything must be looked at through the eyes of the customer. Understanding the customer journey means internalizing what the buyer arc looks like, identifying unique needs, and then being where the customers are. Companies should focus on research and relevancy in order to build relationships that drive not just value, but advocacy.

#SocBiz Challenge 2: Mo’ Data, Mo’ Problems

Social technologies, platforms, and methodologies are prolific to the point of overload. If behavior is communication, and people behave differently in various social contexts, business must get better at interpreting and internalizing what customer behavior means in all the places consumers exist.

#SocBiz Opportunity 2: Focus On Relationships

Great salespeople have always focused on cultivating relationships and relationships are the driving force on social. Exo facto, business must turn their attention to nurturing relationships via social. Social listening reveals behaviors, trends, and influencers. Social engagement provides communication opportunities to nurture and build connection/brand preference. To truly understand how social business is moving the needle, brands need to measure the change from “ignore to awareness” and from “consideration to decision making.”

#SocBiz Challenge 3: Everybody’s Social

Social allows for new forms of collaboration, education, and innovation. But it also opens to door to information fatigue, distraction, and people claiming expertise they don’t actually possess. Positioning your company as social requires walking a fine line between cultural empowerment and best business practices. There has to be a balance between encouraging a social environment and ensuring your employees stay focused on the true aim at hand.

#SocBiz Opportunity 3: Think Laterally

Enabling your organization with core tenants and belief systems can mean breaking with traditional hierarchies. Don’t be afraid to dismantle the traditional power pyramid through internal social practices, but also be prepared to instill new structures that serve a more horizontal integration. As your company embraces social, take feedback, incorporate ideas, and show proof points. Culture starts at the top. Instill an open door policy and make it point to credit social sharing as it reveals new business opportunities.

Social business is still in its infancy, but what it really boils down to is people. People are inherently social by nature and therefore are the driving force of social business.

As businesses deepen their social roots, keep in mind that at the end of the day, social business is not about tech it’s about relationships. Being thoughtful, helpful, and present will not only endear your brand to customers, but will place your company squarely on the path to success.

What are some unique ways you’ve integrated social into your company? We’d love to know → @AirPR

Dell #SocBiz Think Tank Participants