Social Business

Where Most Got Social Business All Wrong, Including Me

badge-guest-post-FLATTERRegardless of how you define social business; it’s hard to argue that organizations today must change if they want to stay relevant and competitive. I have seen business change and lived through many of its ups and downs for many years. My first book, Smart Business, Social Business was my eyewitness account of living through this organizational change while working for large brands in Silicon Valley. In the book, I plead the case that all business, large and small, must evolve into a social business just for the sake of being a social business.

That’s where I got it wrong.  I didn’t continue the story.

Companies that want to become a social business for the sake of “becoming a social business” doesn’t make sense. Enterprise collaboration for the sake of enterprise collaboration is silly. Deploying internal communities using software platforms like IBM or Jive just because your competitors are doing so is a complete waste a time, money and resources.

There must be positive business outcomes.

There needs to be reason “why”.

There has to be a strategic initiative as to why you want to change your business.

Even before the book, I talked about the need for companies to start thinking about socializing their business. But the question I often get is “why?” Why is it important for my business to deploy internal communities, tear down silos, coordinate go-to-market plans or get my butt out of my cubicle and have a conversation with my colleagues down the hall? These are all good questions. Becoming a social business without a vision for where it’s going to take you is like investing thousands of dollars building your first home from the ground up and never moving in to live in it and enjoy it.  It’s a waste of time otherwise.

I look at social business strategy as an enabler. Let me explain.

I am a marketing guy by trade so many of the challenges I help my clients with are the ones that help them improve the way they communicate externally and internally. Sometimes it’s about operationalizing their content marketing strategy. Other times, it’s about building processes and workflows that can help scale social media globally. And many times, it’s fixing disjointed content and community management practices.

In other words, in order to fix many of these challenges, you need a social business strategy that can stand the test of time and change organizational behaviors.  Doing so, will enable better content, smarter marketing, integrated communities and more effective customer relationships. And that’s exactly what my next book is all about – enablement.  It’s about tackling a real-world marketing problem (and opportunity) and using a social business strategy to capitalize on it.

So what is this real-world business problem?

It’s actually pretty simple. Your brand needs to start thinking, acting and operating like a media company. And the reason why is right in plain sight. There is a content surplus in the marketplace today and consumers have an attention deficit. In order for you to reach consumers with your value message, you need to manufacture an environment where you are creating, curating and aggregating relevant content – at the right time, in the right channel and to the right customer. And your brand story must be consistent everywhere. Unfortunately, it’s not like we can turn on the “media company” button and change operations and behavior overnight. It requires a change in attitude, behavior, thinking coupled with processes and governance models; as well as technology that can facilitate the transformation.

Tom Foremski, publisher of tech blog Silicon Valley Watcher has said for several years now that “every company is a media company.” Sadly, some companies don’t know it, resist the change or have no clue on how to fully transform their businesses into media companies.  My book, Your Brand: The Next Media Company will help enable your brand, whether large or small, to leverage the frameworks, practices and strategies of social business to fully transform your brand into an operational content marketing machine. Or better yet, a media company.


To learn more about the book and of each chapter, here are some quick slides that outline the narrative of what you can expect.

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  1. says

    Hi Michael,

    In my small business world I look at it this way: The client is on a happy little trek and you’re helping them find their way through. You stand the test of time because your useful, engaging content/storyline creates a bond, keeps you top of mind, and earns you the right to sell. I guess that is thinking like a media company, even for the small players 😉

  2. PeterJ42 says

    Sorry, but I think you’re still behind the curve.

    Customers and prospects can now see a multi-channel view of your company, your sector and your competitors. They have multiple streams of information from friends, colleagues, reviews, blogs, tweets – you name it.

    No matter how good your media company, you will only ever be one of those streams. And not the most important one – your information will always be seen as self-serving and biased so it will be downgraded next to friend, even next to guy I met on facebook.

    All a strong media presence will do is increase the noise. Especially when it is added to by the competitor streams. You can’t blame the prospect if they run away altogether.

    • says

      Appreciate your comment @PeterJ42:disqus. The essence of thinking like a media company is delivering a content narrative that cuts through noise and that’s recent, relevant and ubiquitous. And that also involves mobilizing advocates – employees and customers – (i.e. content contributors) to help tell the brand story, which we all know is more trusted.

  3. says

    Hi Michael Brito,

    You really got my attention and I just ordered a copy of your new book. I’m very curious to read about your vision on socializing brands. I just Read @PeterJ42:disqus’s comment and I do think he has a point. The “social noise” is increasing, just like ads outdoors did in the past century. Banner-, Tweet- and Facebook-blindness increases just like the complexity of understanding community creation, management and branding.

    • says

      @gijsmolsbergen:disqus thank you so much. The whole point of being a media company is to “break through noise” and essentially become a content organization to @PeterJ42:disqus point. Media companies do this. How many times have you logged into your feed and saw someone sharing content from Buzzfeed, Huffpo or Mashable? And, how many times have you searched Google for something you are interested in and came across a piece of content from the same source? The truth is, consumers need to see/hear or interact with a piece of content 3 – 5 times before they start to believe. This means they they must tell a very consistent brand story across all media – paid, earned and owned.

      • says

        Love this answer Michael:

        How many times have you logged into your feed and saw someone sharing content from Buzzfeed, Huffpo or Mashable? And, how many times have you searched Google for something you are interested in and came across a piece of content from the same source?
        Can I borrow it? With attribution of course. Dead-on.

      • says

        Thanks for your reply Michael! I agree totally. When a brand has a consistent communication strategy, it will always be able to communicate with one “voice”, so to say. And that means that when someone is confronted with this consistent message repetitively, the chance of embracing the brand grows. And let’s be honest, many companies still don’t embrace this way of implementing social branding strategies and business.

  4. clintonbon says

    I dig, but think it should be pushed further still… push it straight passed marketing in fact. Micro-social networks gathered around content of consequence. Tomorrow’s piece on the TopCoder Blog is focused on what social becomes in the 3.0.

    Having quality content is the railroad tracks, creating the opportunity for – to borrow a term from Jay we’ve seen a lot lately – extraordinarily useful user experiences for members within (and yes I mean literally intra-content communities) what are quite niche social communities.

    Our writings focus a good deal on Open Innovation, and social in the 3.0 is a huge cog on the road to continuous innovation cycles. Definitely welcome all to check out the post tomorrow AM on it because it pairs nicely with your article Michael.

    To @PeterJ42:disqus’s point – and it has merit – brands have an exceptional chance to drive hyper-specific conversations that users/members won’t find anywhere else. Look at the NIKE+ platform and their recent social enhancements and addition of social challenges (peer to peer challenges you can set up with many folks involved). Brands that can evolve social “that way” are set up for tremendous success ahead.

  5. says

    As always, Michael, good stuff. The sheer scope and range of how various companies are approaching the use of social channels and technologies, and how this is presented and discussed among marketers, can be daunting. Ask ten people to define social business, and you’ll get at least five different answers. It is more than simply folding social capabilities into existing processes defined within CRM or ERP applications. It is more than simply adding a social overseer to accommodate exception s. It is more than using social channels as a new marketing pathway, or worse yet, as a simple adjunct to marketing. It is more than tapping into the ecosystem of customers, the marketplace, or the connected world, to help guide everything from product design to customer service. It is inclusive of all these functions, but not defined by them. Business as we know it is changing, and “social” just happens to be one of the factors that is driving change. In ten years, why wouldn’t we expect to see our notion of what constitutes social business means change as well? We can be fairly confident that with the explosion of content production, those companies that view it as a core asset, and not fodder, will win. This facet of social business in essence transforms content production into a highly collaborative effort.

    • says

      completely agree mr @MartyThompsonDK:disqus : ) The book is really geared toward marketing and communications. Certainly a business that wants to evolve and be more social with the end result of delivering more robust CRM and/or customer support capabilities is certainly another reason to do so.

    • says

      Hi Marty Thompson, love the reply. “We can be fairly confident that with the
      explosion of content production, those companies that view it as a core asset, and not fodder, will win.” Nailed it 😉

      I believe social media is part of my DNA and identity. Ever since I got that mindset/ perspective, I approached social media from a complete different perspective in comparison to many other companies. A branding manager of quiet a big company here in The Netherlands told me that this mindset helps a business to becoming a social business and that he wished his company approached social media like this from the start, because it gives a sustainable direction to all external and internal online (and even offline) communications.

  6. says

    Great post, Michael. There definitely is an attention deficit among audiences of any brand. The answer is not over-saturation, but rather nimble content and posts. This takes a lot of research and listening – as well as the change in attitude, etc. as you described – to do this in the most effective way possible.

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