Social to the Core: Why Business Socialization Is All or Nothing


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The more I read about business diving into social media for 2011, the more sure I am that there’s going to be a lot of money lost. Not because social media isn’t a valuable tool, but because tacking it on to an anti-social company structure fools as many people as lipstick on a pig.

I don’t mean to be discouraging for folks dipping their toes in. But the fact is that you don’t make a company 2.0 — or maybe even 3.0 now — by setting up a Facebook page and a Twitter account. Those are two of the current hot tools, but the chief reason they “work” for some and not for others has less to do with the audience or the specific campaign and more to do with the company’s identity and culture. Unless you believe firmly that your profit stems from your ongoing customer relationships, the real benefits of social business — in whatever sense — are going to pass you by.

Current examples are instructive. Groupon, poised to hit $1 billion in revenue faster than any company in history, isn’t just interactive in social media accounts; its entire business model is premised on collective consumer action. ModCloth (my perennial example) is built on the concept of democratizing fashion, engaging across platforms and choosing inventory based on customer voting. For a less obvious choice, look at Apple, which actually posts almost nothing on Facebook and isn’t on Twitter, but has spent a decade now riding a wave of extreme customer consciousness. As Steve Jobs said back in July, “We want to make all our users happy. If you don’t know that, you don’t know Apple.”

What we’re talking about here is brand character, corporate persona — which you’d better hope includes a deep desire to serve the people who give you their money. Ten years ago, “consistent messaging” meant keeping your ads and marketing in line; today it means reaching deep into the heart of your organization, and injecting a sense of that core motivation into everything your business does, from advertising to packaging. Some companies are driven by the personality of the CEO; some by a shared philosophical vision for their industry. The point is that there is meaning in there, and meaning is what turns a transaction into a relationship. The people who know that today are the Apples of tomorrow.

So what if you open the vault of your corporate soul and find nothing but a vacuum? Trust me, the first step is not to get on Foursquare. Before stepping into the whirlwind of the social economy, businesses old and new must sit down and consider what they can offer their customers; what character pervades their company; and how that character can relate to the public. In some ways, it’s a traditional PR strategy assessment, but with a new flavor added: an emphasis on truth. You don’t hide deficits, you fix them, and become the company you want to be. That alone is a story worth telling.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Kate Schackai
Kate combines a technical understanding of web 2.0 with classic PR savvy, resulting in online communications that both humans and Google love. She joins Crawford from WordPress development firm TCWebsite, where she worked in online marketing and search engine optimization.


  1. I couldn’t agree with you more Kate. We see the same results in Enterprise 2.0 initiatives which by the way is a fancy way of saying like facebook… but private, secure and within the enterprise. If your company isn’t full of knowledge workers needing and wanting to share already than adding a social layer to your existing structure will just be an added cost and headache.

  2. Thanks for commenting, Lauren! It took me a little while to really see this — or rather, to see why my best advice sometimes couldn’t nudge a company toward social media success. But an entity that can’t empower its people internally isn’t going to make any headway on empowering its customers.

    Kate Schackai is the Social Media Director at Crawford PR.


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