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  • Writer's pictureHugo Pinto

Social business will soon be just business – but it will still change everything

Systems and people are the two most important pieces of a business, but there is a third piece that brings these two together – culture – and culture is changing the way we work.

Most of the  large corporates are still reproducing the post-industrial revolution assembly lines, using e-mail as the conveyor belt, and that’s just like trying to reproduce the TV ads on digital videos, or playing Radio jingles over the phone. Receive, transform, send – this is not enough to keep up with lean and quick structures that make better data-driven decisions.

Systems are key in running businesses, but they are still programmed by people, so culturally there is a gap in making the best use of today’s systems, and Social is increasing this gap as you read this post.

The like and/or follower conundrum

Everyone wants to have millions of followers and ensure their posts are the ones with the biggest amount of likes but is that what your business needs? There’s a reason why these are called vanity metrics. The key question that must be asked is why do your clients have a relationship with you? What do you give them no one else does? After you answer this you’ll figure out how social fits in the strategy of all the teams in your company – not just marketing or PR.

Business is about ROI, and so is social business. It’s difficult to change the notion of social at C-level, but it helps if you talk about the right things.

Be on all social media and with a bang

Many companies – and especially FMCG – feel the need to be present in all relevant social media networks, and they need to have a bespoke profile, because they want to be different. Afterwards, comes the content they need to feed that profile, so each team goes out and spends fortunes on creating campaigns, video content and more systems to run these. And when someone asks why isn’t the information collected being injected back into the Sales, Product and Strategy teams, everyone goes nuts trying to find 10% of what they spend yearly on fireworks, just to integrate social activity data into CRM systems.

Social is plagued with the same disease Big Data has – Analysis / paralysis.

Maybe just integrating a social influencer analysis tool is good enough to identify the right targets for our sales teams pipeline? Once you figure this one out, start the next challenge, but use it for a purpose, not just for using it.

Remember business is a not a one way street anymore – it’s an exchange, and especially social business.

This is true internally.

Inside every organization there is someone – you probably don’t know – that can give you information that improves the output of your work or saves you time, or stops you from duplicating yet another process. Searching for information and people represents about 10% of the time you spend in a large corporation – so if you reduce that to a search on a good social enterprise platform, there’s either more time or less cost for you to do what you were really hired for.

Social is the way to broadcast and engage, and the new employees will have grown with google, twitter and facebook, so allow them to use the tools they use everyday while they’re working. Allow them to import information they broadcast externally through social media profiles, and allow peers to evaluate each other and validate/improve the quality of that information.

Example: Import linkedin profile info to your social enterprise, as recommendations and skills. Integrate HR gamification systems that reflect productivity and maybe employees will work more than they play Candy Crush.

The real change is mentality. Employees already use foreign tools to enterprise solutions to do their job easier, so instead of closing down the set of tools with restricted BYOD policies, understand how the business-makers of the future conduct business – I’m pretty sure social has a role to play in it, and the systems have to be more flexible.

Change & transformation are quickly changing from a role into a basic skill for every employee.

But it’s also true externally.

One of the most exclusive areas of starting a new business – getting funded – is being changed by social media, and by the principle of sharing. I know of companies that had to first develop the IT service capability reputation to then go and build a digital marketing business – I was in one!

Nowadays you are no longer solely rewarded by secrecy and good connections, and crowd funding has taken the startup world by storm. Stories like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are now general knowledge, but last week a new one came out: Linkedin had worked as a funding platform, even without having the proper tools! New business opportunity?

Read more here: Goshido raised 230.000$ in 8 daysin business insider.

Think about the reasons why you invest in a business – credibility, opportunity, potential, need – you can measure these in some way using the information available or attainable via Linkedin. Your linkedin profile is your most valuable professional asset because of the social information, because other people contributed to qualifying you as professional – it’s a two-way professional profile, and it’s crowd-sourced as well.

The evidence is social

KLM used one of the biggest aviation crisis to set themselves apart (Read this piece by Jeffrey Mann from Gartner) from the rest of the industry. But it wasn’t all about integrating social information in different relevant parts of the business, it’s about improving customer satisfaction and delivering more value – this is a C-level KPI – Reducing Churn!

The Meet & Seat is one of my favorites: share your linkedin or facebook profiles to see who’s on that flight and where they’re seated. This might not mean a lot to a frequent flyer in their 50’s, but it’s probably very important to an early 20’s RTW (round the world) traveler – and they will make sure to spread the news of something valuable everywhere, including where your other customers are.

It’s not always easy so be prepared

It’s not all smiles and kisses, and there are a few things to bare in mind. With social everything becomes transparent – the good and the bad, the personal or company level mistakes – mind your data, terms & conditions and privacy policies. With social everything also becomes personal – an advertisement, an opinion article or a product decision, so make sure you’re listening, and respond when necessary.

Either we change or our jobs will

The biggest question with the rise of technology and with the exponential increase of data and artificial intelligence is what will happen to jobs and experts. The key skillset of a salesman 15 years ago was totally different from today’s – or is it?

A sales person was given a product to sell. He had to find potential buyers, contact them, convince them to buy the product, and cash in a commission. Nowadays, they have to worry with things like targeting the decision maker, shortening the sales funnel, customer satisfaction and upselling or cross selling.

It’s gotten tremendously complex, but technology has also evolved, and the environment where you can now find clients has changed, because suddenly there is data about things that could not be quantified 15 years ago. You couldn’t know what the most popular searches online were, nor the competitor product with best online reviews – now you can.

Job descriptions are changing, and the jobs market has become it’s own, crowd sourced A/B testing exercise. We’ll soon see freelance social professions competing with current full-time jobs.

Some come to mind.

Linkedin sales professionals – expert salesman that can jump through contiguous markets because of the contact network built over linkedin, and can pro-actively find providers for customers’ problems, create the solution and make the sale.

Industry influencer managers – people that analyze social information, blogs and news to understand who are the tops influencers in a specific topic, or the key business enablers of a market, or who are the most important thought leaders in dealing with a challenge. These experts manage their contact list and support PR, Marketing, Talent and Sales teams in putting together strategies that get the key stakeholders of your business delivering your messages for you.

Professional digital marketer – web experts that use memes and other current affairs to create merchandising and use e-commerce platforms to sell items related to that meme or topic – a t-shirt, a mug, etc. – campaign them through social-media and make money out of it. This one is a reality already, even though it’s hidden behind a lot of dubious advertising. A good example of such an e-commerce service is

Are these just example of a whole new set of roles, or are Sales, PR, HR and all other teams going to have to embrace social and learn how to transform their professions?

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