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Webinar: Leveraging Social Media Into Your Business Strategy

by Joe Loong on February 10, 2009

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Social media guy and Forrester Research analyst Jeremiah Owyang just moderated a webinar on social media and business strategy — since I’ve both evangelized social media from inside a big company, and am currently working with companies to develop their social media strategies, this was of course a topic relevant to my interests [optional, related funny photo]. Here, I’ll do a quick overview of the session, and mix in my own thoughts on social media and the enterprise.

The webinar, “Leveraging Social Media Into Your Business Strategy“, was broadcast live on February 5 — I watched the archived version a day after (which is the nice thing about webinars — it’ll be available through August 7 if you want to check it out), and featured Jeremiah moderating, with Michael Sippey of SixApart and Sam Lawrence of Jive Software participating.

Jeremiah set the stage by defining 6 categories of “social technographics” that Forrester uses to define social media users: Creators, Critics, Collectors, Joiners, Spectators, and Inactives. The categories are pretty straightforward (you can see a breakdown presentation here), and a person can move between and through the categories as they use social media (with the exception, of course, of Inactives, though of the people surveyed, the percentage of Inactives dropped from 44% in 2007, to 25% in 2008).

Using these 6 classifications seems to make sense, and you can also map it against the continuum of participation inequality — some people may never contribute their own original blog entry or post a video, but they might still comment, for example.

He also ran through the external, consumer-facing uses of enterprise social media: listening to consumers, talking to the marketplace, energizing sales through word-of-mouth, supporting users, and identifying ideas for development; as well as internal uses: knowledge management, collaboration, community, education from thought leaders, and alerting people to information.

That’s enough of the laundry list. Generally, I advocate that companies (primarily bigger companies, where people can’t know everybody else) use social media tools to unlock institutional knowledge that’s typically stored in your head. Just like publicly sharing your bookmarks can be useful to others, so can keeping an internally-available record of what you’re working on.

And not to get all Cluetrain Manifesto here, but the ability to flatten out the organizational pyramid when it comes to feedback, knowledge sharing and communication can really help get things done.

Plus, internal social media, properly implemented, can be a great test bed to identify voices that will be good for external-facing social media.

Anyway, a few other bits from the rest of the session and the Q&A:

* Michael Sippey, on how to get companies started in social media: Start simple, with a small project with discernible business goals; get used to how things work with commenting and public conversation, and find what works and doesn’t work.

He later added, on the best way to get a corporate culture to embrace social media: Get workgroups to a series of small risks and small wins that lead to visible rewards.

* Sam Lawrence, on trends in social business software: It’s a huge growth category, because it’s an overall low-cost solution, especially for managing prospects and turning them into advocates.  Implementation is simple, yet complex. Users think in terms of tasks, not tools; 4 main buckets to focus on are employee engagement, connecting sales & marketing with the marketplace, supporting users, and R&D/innovation.

* On social business tool adoption on the intranet: The toolset is getting better in complexity and cost, and people are already using social tools outside the workplace — Twitter, IM, Facebook, and LinkedIn, so are more willing to try it internally.

* Getting executive buy-in: Focus on addressing real business issues, that have clear measures of success and measurable business objectives — like, reduced costs, or decreased time to market; even lower Search Engine Marketing costs (since social media content has natural SEM/SEO benefits).

Anyway, there’s a lot more in the Webinar, so check it out. And if you’ve got your own experience with trying to implement social media in the business setting, please leave a comment below.

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    • Tobias_B

      Reputation Management sets customer expectations from the end of the buyer supply-chain toward initial prospect engagement. Once a business engages the customer using social media, that customer will expect the same level of service and transparency from other segments of the business.

      Most SocMed efforts begin in support where a support team looking to improve its reputation engages a SocMed marketer. Once the program is implemented, the business gets a big surprise when customers start using the same open system to bash sales and marketing. As Owyang points out, SocMed can be implemented across the enterprise to great benefit. But it must be managed the the CEO. Companies are full of Stovepipe thinking and a CIO who is pushing SocMed does not have the juice to get waring departments to play nice in the sandbox. Those deep-seated issues are associated with compensation and other personnel challenges. A business needs to look at Social Media from an enterprise operations perspective and prepare for it. Failing to do so may undermine what little strategic planning the economy will allow these days and lead to one department altering the forecast of another.

      Imagine an outsourced offshore sales center trying to live up to the expectation set by an onshore support team using social media. The cost to close the customer expectation gap will put pressure on the bottom line of any business. In other words, as a business owner you or your consultant needs a complete understanding of the complexities surrounding cost containment and cost to capture customers at an enterprise level and the interpersonal issues of aligning an enterprise. If you lack those skills, put down the device and back away slowly until you have what you need to implement the breadth of change required to launch a real SocMed strategy.

    • Tobias_B

      Reputation Management sets customer expectations from the end of the buyer supply-chain toward initial prospect engagement. Once a business engages the customer using social media, that customer will expect the same level of service and transparency from other segments of the business.

      Most SocMed efforts begin in support where a support team looking to improve its reputation engages a SocMed marketer. Once the program is implemented, the business gets a big surprise when customers start using the same open system to bash sales and marketing. As Owyang points out, SocMed can be implemented across the enterprise to great benefit. But it must be managed the the CEO. Companies are full of Stovepipe thinking and a CIO who is pushing SocMed does not have the juice to get waring departments to play nice in the sandbox. Those deep-seated issues are associated with compensation and other personnel challenges. A business needs to look at Social Media from an enterprise operations perspective and prepare for it. Failing to do so may undermine what little strategic planning the economy will allow these days and lead to one department altering the forecast of another.

      Imagine an outsourced offshore sales center trying to live up to the expectation set by an onshore support team using social media. The cost to close the customer expectation gap will put pressure on the bottom line of any business. In other words, as a business owner you or your consultant needs a complete understanding of the complexities surrounding cost containment and cost to capture customers at an enterprise level and the interpersonal issues of aligning an enterprise. If you lack those skills, put down the device and back away slowly until you have what you need to implement the breadth of change required to launch a real SocMed strategy.

    • Brian

      Dear Joe Loong,
      My name is Brian and I am a senior in the Mike Cottrell school of business at North Georgia College & State University. I am working on a research paper about the effects of social media on small business marketing etc. Can you suggest a sources for statistics about social media effect on sales? The statistics be a stretch, but any helpful resources about social media used in business strategy would be great. Thanks in advance, the outline for my paper is below for reference, Brian

      Social Media Research Paper outline
      1.) Intro
      2.) Brief description of Social Media tools
      A. Types of social media
      1. Blogging
      2. Social Networks
      3. Video Streaming
      B. Uses of social media
      1. Marketing
      2. HR
      3. PR
      3.) Effects of Social Media on Small Business
      A. Examples
      B. Results
      4.) Opportunities for Small Businesses using Social Media
      A. Increase Market Share
      B. Increase Customer Awareness
      C. Better Product Information
      D. Customer Service
      5.) Conclusion