The meaning of social business has evolved quite a bit. The term social business used to be defined as a “non-loss, non-dividend company with the intent of solving…social or environmental problems.” However, that definition is changing. What used to refer to companies with an altruistic or philanthropic goal, now refers to those who have embraced social media as an essential component of running a business. The new social business is one that utilizes the social media landscape for connecting with customers and engaging in social selling.
Embracing the New Social Business
Businesses are under increasing pressure to change and adapt to new media. It’s not enough to simply talk at customers anymore; you need to talk with them. Businesses have to engage in conversations with customers, not just spout sales spiels. Those who adopt this new approach for their companies will be at the forefront of the social business evolution. However, implementing any major change can be difficult, and introducing social media into an organization is no different.
Many companies are afraid of approaching social media incorrectly so they just avoid it altogether. What these companies fail to realize is everyone just embarking on this social business journey has to learn as they go. According to Cheryl and Mark Burgess, authors of The Social Employee: How Great Companies Make Social Media Work, “It’s better to jump in now and learn through trial and error with everyone else than to try to wait it out.” Yes, it’s scary to try something new and unfamiliar but jumping in head first is the only way to learn. You might make mistakes along the way, but you’ll be able to learn from those errors and improve your overall social media strategy. Plus, companies stand to get head and shoulders above the competition in terms of social visibility. And when it comes to social business, it all comes down to visibility, responsiveness, and engagement.
Another common fear has to do with measuring ROI. The concern is that becoming a social business means you just tweet and post on Facebook and hope something sticks. And even then you can’t be sure if an uptick in sales is due to your social selling efforts or just a case of happenstance. This line of thinking is just plain wrong and only applied to the very earliest days of business social media engagement.
Now, there are tools aplenty to measure, measure, measure! It’s even possible to track results from individual employees. Measuring ROI is now possible and necessary for a business’s social media strategy. Especially with tools like Conversion Measurement and OptimzedCPM, it’s easier than ever to measure the effectiveness of a company’s social media reach.
Taking a New Approach
So once these fears have been allayed, it’s important to fully engage with social media because it’s the best way to move outdated marketing and sales tactics into the 21st century. But it’s not about completely abandoning all things traditional. Becoming a social business works best if you combine traditional tactics with new tools and methodologies.
For example, it’s completely traditional for a company’s top executives to send out notices to shareholders and customers. They might send out emails or newsletters talking about the status of the company, discuss new product releases, or share important customers wins. In this digital age however, these things can also be shared on social media. Executives shouldn’t shy away from social media in order to reach out to their customers – they should embrace it.
In fact, 82% of consumers place more trust in companies with a CEO who has well-established social media accounts. Top-level executives who are active on social media and harness it to engage and build relationships with customers are truly ahead of the curve. And when management sets the precedent for engaging on social, then employees should feel motivated to get on social media as well to reach out to new and potential customers.
While you can still win a client or two by going to networking events or talking over a deal during a round of golf, you can’t expect to schmooze your way to record-breaking sales figures anymore. Especially in this day and age when social media allows people to network 24/7, any place at any time. To find and convert sales, people have to go where their customers are. And that’s on social media.
Turning your business into a social business starts with management and engaged employees. Employees at every level of your company can represent you on social media and actively participate in social selling. While you don’t necessarily need to get everyone on the payroll to sign up for Twitter, the most actively engaged employees can go a long way in selling your company/product. How? Because they truly believe in the company/product. That genuine love comes through when they advocate for your company on social media and makes your company a true social business.