Social Business Trends Reflect Changing Landscape

I believe a social business strategy is an effective way to gain an advantage in today’s rapidly changing landscape;this is particularly true when thinking about social media for small business.

In a recent study by Fed Ex and Ketchum the results indicated that large organizationssocial_business_shift are now beginning to evolve from social marketing to social business. Now I know you are probably thinking all business is social. While that is true, what this study reveals is a fundamental change in the way companies use social tools to engage all stakeholders.

Benefits of Social Media and Business

51% of those surveyed felt that social media is helping to strengthen client relationships.

A majority of those responding to the survey said their social media objectives enhanced their brand’s reputation with clients (69%) and the general public (68%).

A great deal of social media presence has been dedicated to reputation so in a way these stats suggest that those efforts have at least to some extent been successful. Trends now reflect a change in focus, from focusing on brand awareness to relationship.

Business social media objectives are changing

In 2010 objectives were primarily designed to promote word of mouth advocacy behaviors. While this is still an important aspect of any marketing effort, it does reflect some of the traditional push marketing culture.

Fast forward to 2012 and now objectives are aimed at fostering collaboration and dialogue. The rapidly changing marketing landscape requires that brands adapt to a new kind of consumer, one that is often more informed than the representative they are interacting with.

Implications of Social Business

The new consumer expects a different kind of consumer experience. In this new marketing landscape, providing a superior consumer experience can be a competitive advantage. However, consistently delivering this kind of experience has significant implications for most businesses.

Consumers now expect a consistent experience across all touch points. So, for example, when a consumer is in a store they are likely to be on the company’s web site or checking out a competitor’s site. In fact, researching product information and comparing prices are among the more popular shopping activities of technology enabled shoppers.

Businesses must ensure there is internal alignment, especially between colleagues who interact with consumers. Corporate cultures have to engage colleagues, encouraging cross functional collaboration. One of my previous posts, How Do Your Rate Your Business on Customer Experience Differentiation?, takes a deeper look at customer experience competencies.

Ownership and management of social media is evolving from a central function to a matrix approach reflecting this change. According to the survey 64% of communications, HR, and marketing teams changed as a result of social media.

Social Business isn’t Optional

Change is seldom easy; the more disruptive the change, the more difficult it can be. With the rapid proliferation of smart devices globally driving many of these changes, the days of traditional broadcast marketing are numbered. Companies must realize there is a connection between engaged stakeholders and innovation. Customer experience and innovation are keys to business survival.

Organizations that equip, train, engage and listen to stakeholders will be in a much better position to gain a competitive advantage. The benefits extend beyond marketing. Engaged employees will attract others who have similar values; they will be more productive and will be far more likely to connect with consumers.

What do you think? Have you dealt with companies that practice social business? If so, I would love to hear about your experience.

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