Management April 9, 2013 Last updated September 18th, 2018 2,070 Reads share

Social Business, The Digital Business Model?

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Social Business is developing at a pace, due to the ongoing increase in digital technology. Business finds the “Tsunami” of digital information difficult to digest. Social Business allows a business to evaluate this digital technology and strategically plan to integrate a Social Business Strategy to deliver the company’s objectives.

Social Business has developed in tandem with the new online technologies. A business can leverage either Social Branding, which leads to increased sales/market share and is external; or Social Business to improve innovation, efficiency and collaboration which leads to increased profits and is internal.

There is a lot to embrace and not many companies can do both. Smaller companies are overwhelmed by the whole online space and decide, wrongly, to ignore it. Companies have to evaluate their own resources and strategically enter the space. Most companies can handle the Social Branding aspect initially however the Social Business aspect is more difficult to introduce and takes a major commitment to change from the CEO right down through the organisation.

Return on Investment (ROI)  should be the objective of any Social Business Strategy and this has to have a traditional business result. The result should always comes down to these three objectives:-

  1. increased sales
  2. increased efficiency
  3. increased profit

Business has only two functions

Peter Drucker

There are only two functions in business, they are Marketing and Innovation, so said Peter Drucker, one of the greatest business minds of the 20th Century.

 “Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two – and only two – basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”

Businesses or organisations are currently marketing themselves either online or through the “Legacy Channels” – TV, radio or the print media. Social Business allows the development of strategies for the digitizing of the marketing and innovation functions in any business or organisation.

What does that mean?

The legacy marketing channels are still important to the existing sales funnel. It is not recommended you tamper with what has being proven to work for your company. Social Business allows companies to bring sales, profit and efficiency from the digital channels in tandem with the existing traditional business methods. Every new strategy created has to deliver measurable results – see Niall Devitt’s 10 Steps in Developing a Strategic Social Media Plan for Your Business.

Companies have an inherent fear of change. They do not understand the digital space, so it is best to ignore it – wrong. Strong research by IBM, Deloitte and McKinsey proves ignoring the emerging digitization of business is a flawed strategy. Our fifth annual survey on the way organizations use social tools and technologies finds that they continue to seep into many organizations, transforming business processes and raising performance” says the McKinsey Report.

All business, large and small, can benefit from Social Business

This is where a debate rages, “it’s all well and good for big companies, they have the resources to cover all this. Only big companies have the wherewithal to take advantage or only multi-national businesses can use the digital space to gain an advantage over small business”.

This argument does not stack up when examined closely; all business can benefit, large and small. The mention of IBM or Deloitte does not lessen the argument for the SBM for small to medium business, it strengthens it! Why, because all large business had to start somewhere and grow. Small business becomes big business by leveraging the best marketing or innovation available in their time.

Most big businesses started small – McDonalds, Apple and DHL all started small but grew into the large corporations they are now. How?  They innovated and marketed their companies better than their competition at the time, and still do. This is also back to Peter Drucker’s two functions, marketing and innovation.

Social Branding & Social Business adoption

The holistic nature of Social Business means that it can be utilised throughout any company. Crucially, digital allows every tactic, campaign and strategy to be measured – see Christina Giliberti’s blog post, Google Analytics for Business: The Ultimate Guide.

Below are a list of departments and tactics that can be used to leverage both Social Branding and Social Management.

  • Email Marketing is still one of the most effective ways to deliver your marketing message. Each step in the process is trackable and measurable – delivery rates, open rates, response rates are all metrics to judge the success of your campaign.
  • Content Marketing is growing in importance with the evolution of social media platforms, again totally measurable – likes, shares, comments, expressions and clickthroughs via links to your website.
  • Community Building – by building an online community you are increasing the number of brand ambassadors that will contribute content and increase the number of expressions your brand receives.
  • Analytics – every online engagement has metrics and can be measured for their effectiveness.
  • Market Research – all businesses can carry out research among the online community about how their business is perceived in the marketplace. Create surveys and set up listening posts using web crawlers that allow you to track online mentions of your business or product.
  • Sales using your website, staff and online community as a sales people. Drive your online community to the website via your marketing strategies and tactics.
  • HR – recruitment of good staff always proves challenging. LinkedIn and other online platforms are being used by recruitment agencies and switched-on HR departments across the globe to locate good staff.
  • CRM – by using online technology, businesses can efficiently deal with both the sales process and customer interactions. Through the clever use of the online channels, customer feedback, support and technical support can all be handled efficiently and effectively.
  • R & D by crowdsourcing. Tapping into your willing online community you can test, research and develop products. This allows for the elimination of wasteful product launches and reduces costs.
  • Internal company collaboration using enterprise level social platforms such as Podio, Jive or Chatter allow companies to communicate in a very effective way. Allowing for the sharing of mission critical documents and data in real time, this efficiency helps to improve profit margins.
  • External collaboration allows companies to use their online community to help solve problems such as help desk type forums which allow the online community to help each other to solve technical issues with products.
  • Supply Chain Management – all aspects of the supply chain can be dealt with by online communications, be that email, voice through Skype calls, instant messaging via Google or Facebook or simply by using Twitter or texting. All these channels are free, thereby reducing communication costs.

Who are promoting the Social Business Model?

In Ireland The Ahain Group are the first Social Business Consultancy but we get our inspiration from the US and other International markets including the Far East and the UK. There are many respected advocates for the Social Business – here are my Top Ten:-

  • Sandy Carter of IBM,
  • Dion Hinchcliffe Chief Strategy Officer at The Dachis Group,
  • Brian Solis Chief Analyst at Altimeter Group,
  • Marc Benioff CEO of Sales Force,
  • Scott Monty Head of Social Media at Ford Motors,
  • Jonathan Mildenhall Vice President of Global Advertising Strategy and Creative Excellence, at Coca Cola
  • Richard Branson CEO of Virgin,
  • Angela Ahrendts CEO at Burberry
  • Luis Suarez of IBM
  • Jeremiah Owyang Analyst at Altimeter Group

All the people and companies named in my Top Ten walk the walk and talk the talk on Social Business. Branson and Ahrendts have fully digitialised their companies to take full advantage of it. As I mentioned earlier the research carried out into the business benefits of the Social Business are conclusive.

The Social Business Model when used strategically, will deliver Peter Drucker’s requirements – a customer, the sole reason for a businesses existence. Plus it can be used for his two functions, marketing and innovation.

Put all three together and you have your ROI – increased profit. How can you not be interested in Social Business Adoption?

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Images:  ”businessman drawing a social business network scheme on a whiteboard /

John Twohig

John Twohig

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